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UTSC philosophy professor wins prestigious award

Jessica Wilson, winner of the 2014 Martin R. Lebowitz and Eve Lewellis Lebowitz award.

Jessica Wilson, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto Scarborough, has received the 2014 Martin R. Lebowitz and Eve Lewellis Lebowitz Prize, an honour recognizing her philosophical achievement and contribution.

The $30,000 award is given by the Phi Beta Kappa Society together with the American Philosophical Association, and is unique in being given to two philosophers who hold contrasting views on a given topic.  Together with Wilson, the prize this year was given to Jonathan Schaffer, a professor at Rutgers University.

Wilson and Schaffer will present their views at the Lebowitz symposium in Philadelphia later this year. Schaffer will defend a distinctive posit of ‘grounding’ as needed to characterize metaphysical dependence, while Wilson will argue that ordinary metaphysical relations (such as identity, or the part-whole relation) are better suited for this work.

“I am honoured and happy to have this opportunity to engage with Jonathan on such an important topic,” says Wilson. “What’s at issue here is how best to understand metaphysical dependence, a notion that shows up in almost every area of philosophy: how does the mind depend on the body? How do ethical facts depend on real-life facts?”

This is the second year the award is given. It was made possible by a bequest from Eve Lewellis Lebowitz in honour of her late husband, Dr. Martin R. Lebowitz, one of the 20th century’s most distinguished philosophical critics. Throughout his long career, Lebowitz sought order in society and in intellectual activity.  His interests in a rapidly changing world provided insights extending to all areas of philosophy, ethics and aesthetics, art and literature, physics and psychiatry, sociology and psychology.

Wilson’s research interests centre on the metaphysics of science and general metaphysics, and most importantly on how to characterize relations between entities and properties treated by different sciences.

© University of Toronto Scarborough