Philosophy Student Wins $1000

By Staci Wilson, CHASS Dean’s Office Student Intern
April 14, 2011

Philosophy graduate student, Patrick Todd, recently won first prize in a paper competition between participants in the 2010 St. Thomas Summer Seminar. The seminar is an annual event in which twenty graduate level students are invited to interact with leading scholars and discuss current areas of debate regarding the philosophy of religion and philosophical theology. Participants are chosen based on academic merit, future research potential, and demonstrated interest in the topics to be addressed during the particular seminar at hand. Both the seminar and the awards it offers are funded by the John Templeton Foundation, which has been dedicated to aiding research and exploring, “the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality,”  since its foundation in 1987.

Todd’s paper, entitled “Soft Facts and Ontological Dependence,” tries to clarify the Ockhamist's distinction between hard and soft facts in order to assess the claim that divine foreknowledge and human freedom are, necessarily, mutually exclusive. According to the director of the St. Thomas Seminar, the paper competition was extremely stiff this year and a number of impressive papers were submitted for review. Todd’s achievement did not seem to come as any surprise at all, however, to department chair John Fischer who said of Todd’s work, “this is not the first, nor will it be the last, occasion for expressing our pride in your superb achievements.”

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