Spencer Albert Wins the 2022 Martha Lile Love Essay Award

Published: December 15, 2022

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It is our pleasure to announce Spencer Albert as the winner of this year’s Martha Lile Love Essay Award. The prize committee described his essay, “How Commodity Fetishism Undermines Desert-Based Arguments against Redistribution and Reparations,” in the following manner: “Spencer argues that a significant barrier to shifting public opinion on redistributive policy, particularly in the form of reparations, is the idea (held by conservatives and liberals alike) that we are entitled to the wealth we earn. He aims to show how Marx’s notion of commodity fetishism undermines this view. He argues that once we move away from seeing economic relations as exchanges of money for commodities or services and instead focus on the social relations between individuals whose labor collectively makes our form of life possible, the norms that justify being entitled to the ‘wealth we earn’ fall apart.  Spencer’s essay is an exceptional piece of work and stood out from the (extremely strong) competition for its originality and sheer verve.  It was a delight to read.” Congratulations, Spencer!We would also like to commend Patrick Fraser for his essay, “Violations of Causal Faithfulness Are Not Measure Zero.” The committee wrote, “Causal faithfulness is an integral assumption of the Directed Acyclical Graphs approach to modelling causal relations. Its proponents argue that the range of cases in which the assumption is violated are negligible (Lebesgue Measure zero). Patrick’s essay offers three compelling arguments against this claim. This is a technically demanding, wholly convincing piece of work. It deserves to be recognised as an important contribution to the current causation literature.”

Many thanks to Shruta Swarup and Denis Walsh for serving as the adjudication committee for the award.

This award was founded over forty years ago to honour the memory of a Toronto graduate student, Martha Lile Love, who had herself won an essay prize at Smith College, where she did her undergraduate degree in philosophy. Past winners of the Martha Lile Love Essay Award include Dennis Klimchuk, Joanna Thoma, and Evan Thompson, as well as our current graduate students Eliran Haziza, Liang Zhou Koh, and Henry Krahn.