May 4, 2020

Brandon Beasley wins 2020 Graduate Essay Prize

Awarded for his essay "Pragmatism About Content Through Pluralism About Intentionality"

Brandon Beasley (PhD Candidate, Philosophy) is the winner of this year’s Department of Philosophy Graduate Essay Competition, and recipient of a $2,500 award for his essay “Pragmatism About Content Through Pluralism About Intentionality.”

The Department of Philosophy annually invites graduate students to enter an essay on any topic in philosophy. Essay submissions are judged (anonymously) by the Graduate Program Committee, and evaluated in part on originality, as well as the quality of argumentation and writing in the paper.

Brandon’s essay is a proposal for a new way of developing a pragmatist theory of conceptual content. Pragmatism about content is the view that the use of language in social practices constitutes the content of mental states—beliefs, desires, and intentions. Brandon proposes a new way of developing the pragmatist theory, by expanding on the idea that the phenomena which make cognition possible are diverse and distinct. Rather than trying to create a ‘monolithic’ account in which they are all embraced, he propose we should opt for a ‘pluralistic’ account in which each is given distinct treatment.

This topic comes directly out of the work Brandon is doing in his dissertation, and can be traced to the time he spent at the University of Pittsburgh as a visiting scholar, working with Professor Robert Brandom, a leading exponent of pragmatism about conceptual content.

Read the full essay, and past Graduate Essay Prize recipients.