The Philosophy Essay Prize

Each year the Royal Institute holds an essay prize competition. The winner will receive £2,500 and their essay will be published in Philosophy




2021 Topic: Self and Society

The topic for this year’s prize is ‘Self and Society’. We intend this topic to be understood very broadly, so as to include related issues in any area of philosophy. The following are illustrative examples:


Peer disagreement and epistemic partiality; judgement aggregation and social choice; the relations between group knowledge, individual knowledge and action. Self-knowledge and other minds. The importance of second-person judgement and knowledge. The role of intersubjectivity in language acquisition, communication, and shared linguistic understanding. How to understand first-person plural judgement and its significance. How to construe individual liberty within the social order. Our conception of ourselves and our ethical responsibilities and their relation to recognition of and by others in society. The balance between enforced restrictions to prevent the spread of disease in society and individual sacrifice; prioritizing treatment and vaccination locally and globally. The relation between society and its interests, and the collection of its individual members and their interests. The right to privacy and the use of data for social benefits. The impact of social media on individuals’ self-image. Individual identity and multiculturalism. The possibility or desirability of transcending the self. No-self metaphysics.


The winner will receive £2,500 and their essay will be published in Philosophy.


The submission deadline has been extended to 20 December 2021. Entries will be considered by a panel of judges and the winner announced in Spring 2022. In assessing entries priority will be given to originality, clarity of expression, breadth of interest, and potential for advancing discussion. All entries will be deemed to be submissions to Philosophy


In exceptional circumstances, the prize may be awarded jointly, in which case the financial component will be divided. The winning entry/entries will be published in the July 2022 issue of Philosophy.


Please submit entries by email to, with the subject line 'Prize Essay'. The word-limit for the Essay Competition is 8,000 words. Instructions for contributors can be found here. Entries should be anonymised and suitable for blind review. (Please note that Essay Prize submissions should be sent to the email address above and should not submitted through the ScholarOne system.).