The Du Châtelet Prize in Philosophy of Physics is awarded annually for previously unpublished work in philosophy of physics by a graduate student or junior scholar. The prize celebrates excellence in philosophy of physics, and promotes breadth across the field both historically and philosophically.
2023 Du Châtelet Prize in Philosophy of Physics:
The winners are Marta Bielinska and Caspar Jacobs for their paper “A Philosophical Introduction to Hidden Symmetries in Physics.”
Marta’s and Caspar’s paper investigates examples of so-called “hidden symmetries”, widely used in physics, arguing that such symmetries pose new challenges for philosophical accounts of symmetries and for “symmetry-to-reality” inferences.
Topic: Laws and symmetries in the practice of physics
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Nancy Cartwright’s highly influential book, How the Laws of Physics Lie. In honor of this, we invite submissions addressing the ways laws and symmetries are deployed in the practice of doing physics: in experiment, in theory, and in the interplay between them. The scope is intended to be broad, encompassing the variety of theoretical, practical, and explanatory roles that laws and symmetries play in physics.
The winner will receive $1000, an invitation to participate in a workshop on the topic of this year’s prize, and an invitation to have their paper considered for publication in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science. The prize is open to graduate students and to scholars within 5 years of PhD as of the submission deadline. Submissions should not exceed 10,000 words.
The workshop will be held at Duke University on November 30th – December 1st, at which we will congratulate our prize-winners and honor Nancy Cartwright. We will also celebrate several decades of wide-ranging and varied philosophical work on laws and symmetries in physics, including work by members of the committee. Bas van Fraassen’s Laws and Symmetry was first published over 30 years ago. Nina Emery’s work examines laws of nature at the intersection of metaphysics and physics. Marc Lange has been publishing on laws throughout this century, including his Laws and Lawmakers. The collection of papers Symmetries in Physics: Philosophical Reflections edited by Katherine Brading and Elena Castellani was published 20 years ago.
Members of This Year’s Prize Committee
- Elena Castellani, Professor in Philosophy of Science, University of Florence
- Nina Emery, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Mount Holyoke College
- Bas van Fraassen, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, San Francisco State University, and McCosh Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus, Princeton University
- Marc Lange, Theda Perdue Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Du Châtelet Prize in Philosophy of Physics is supported by Duke University in collaboration with Studies in History and Philosophy of Science.
- Submissions must be in English
- Submissions should be prepared for blind review
- Submissions should be no longer than 10,000 words in length, including footnotes and references
- Submitted work should be unpublished and should not be under consideration for publication
For details of the submission process, and for any other questions, please contact Katherine Brading (email@example.com).
Additional Information & Past Winners
The Du Châtelet Prize in Philosophy of Physics celebrates excellence in philosophy of physics and promotes breadth across the field both historically and philosophically. Each year, a prize committee of senior scholars in the field invites submissions on a particular topic. The prize winner receives feedback and support from the committee, and the paper is considered for publication in Studies. The goals of the prize are to support young scholars working in philosophy of physics, to strengthen the historical and philosophical breadth of the field, and to promote some of the very best work being done by students and junior scholars.
Submissions are considered under blind review. Whenever a possible conflict of interest is recognized, committee members are recused accordingly.
2022 Winner: Ovidiu Babeș
“Mixed Mathematics and Metaphysical Physics: Descartes and the Mechanics of the Flow of Water."
- Topic: The complex interplay between physics and mechanics in Descartes’ quantitative explanation of the flow of water
- Committee: Roger Ariew, Dan Garber, Dana Jalobeanu, Alison Peterman, and Sophie Roux
2021 Winners: Miguel Ohnesorge: “Pluralizing Measurement: Physical Geodesy's Measurement Problem and its Resolution”
and Jamee Elder: “The ‘Direct Detection’ of Gravitational Waves”
- Topic: Measurement practices in the physical sciences: correlation, calibration and stabilization
- Committee: Alisa Bokulich, Hasok Chang, Daniel Mitchell, and Wendy Parker
2020 Winner: Joshua Eisenthal
“Hertz’s Mechanics and a unitary notion of force”, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 90 226-234. 2021.
- Topic: Mathematics as a tool of conceptual innovation in physical theory and/or experiment, 1780-1890.
- Committee: Katherine Brading, Janet Folina, Doreen Fraser, Lydia Patton and Sheldon Smith
2019 Winner: Adwait Parker
“Newton on Active and Passive Quantities of Matter”, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 84 1-11. 2020.
- Topic: “How the parts of matter act on one another, as that issue stood at any time in the period 1680-1780”
- Committee: Katherine Brading, Mary Domski, Andrew Janiak, Chris Smeenk, George Smith