2012-2013 Winners


Ryan Lake (Philosophy)

Ryan LakeRyan Lake’s dissertation, No Fate But What We Make—A Defense of the Compatibility of Freedom and Causal Determinism, is a significant contribution to one of the most contested issues in the history of philosophy. In lucid and jargon-free prose, Lake develops a novel account of the compatibility of freedom and determinism and defends it against the recent resurgence of incompatibilist views. His position is built on an innovative account of moral responsibility in terms of practical reason and susceptibility to reactive moral emotions. He uses this account, together with carefully crafted examples, to combat a wide variety of recent arguments that causal determinism eliminates moral responsibility. He develops an insightful and nuanced account of the significance of moral emotions in human lives and loving relationships, arguing that only a compatibilist viewpoint can do justice to the complex interplay of cause and emotion in moral evaluation. Overall, the dissertation exhibits an impressive synthesis of careful analytic argumentation and broad humanistic relevance.


Silvia Mitchell (History)

Silvia MitchellSilvia Mitchell’s dissertation, Mariana of Austria and Imperial Spain: Court, Dynastic, and International Politics in Seventeenth-Century Europe, is the first in-depth study of a crucial period in Spanish and indeed European history, unjustly neglected as it hinged upon the polarizing figure of a female regent for the Spanish Habsburg, Mariana of Austria (1634-96). Rich in archival documents and elegantly written, Mitchell’s dissertation expands our understanding of the legal and political workings of the court and affords us novel insights on the politics of motherhood and regency, gender-specific categories that are usually relegated to a status of lesser importance. Mitchell engages multiple facets of her topic, involving politics, diplomacy, gender and family studies, in a pan-European view that is both necessary and largely ignored. She builds on recent scholarship and originally contributes to the theoretical underpinnings of early modern scholarship, for example through her analysis of the unique prerogatives of motherhood. By utilizing Mariana of Austria as an exceptional example within Spanish and European history as well as a productive instance of what the culture and legal system in Spain allowed, Mitchell affords us a fruitful entry point to expand our understanding of early modern courts, politics, diplomacy, and gender.