Conference History and Hutchins Prize Winners


Directors: Elizabeth Hill and Sam Underwood

Graduate Assistant: Annalee Ring

Undergraduate Interns: Christopher Chapin and Austin Caswell

Keynotes: Richard Kearney and Sheila Gallagher, Boston College

Hutchins Prize Winner: Kathryn Lawson, Centre for Theory and Criticism at Western University

Runner Up: Alexandra Grundler, University of California, Santa Cruz


Director: Andrew Towers

Communications Director: Rachel Flores

Assistant: Sam Underwood

Keynotes: Elizabeth Murray, Loyola University Marymount; Alphonso Lingis, Pennsylvania State University

Hutchins Prize Winner: Elizabeth Bell, University of Wisconsin-Madison, “How Special Relations Give Rise to Agent-Neutral Reasons: a Defense of the Special Relation Account of Moral Status”

Runner Up: Udoka Okafor, McMaster University, “The Ethics Of Transracial Adoption In The United States of America”

2016 Conference Program



Director: Tyler Wasson

Assistant: Rob McDonald

Plenary: Erik Schmidt, Gonzaga University

Keynote: Kym McLaren, Ryerson University

Hutchins Prize Winner: Julianne Chung, Yale University, “Skepticism & Metaphor”

Runner Up: T. Raja Rosenhagen, University of Pittsburgh, “Friendship for the Less Virtuous”

2015 Conference Program



Director: Maja Rodell

Assistants: Tyler Wasson, Andrew Towers, and A. J. Harmond

Plenary: Kirk Besmer, Gonzaga University

Keynote: Don Ihde, State University of New York at Stony Brook (Emeritus)

Hutchins Prize Winner: Heather Wallace, “The Truth about Others: Epistemic Authority and Relativism in Theaetetus 170e-171c”

Runner Up: Victor Bruzzone, “Linguistic Habit as Perceptual Habit: Examining Recent Research in Color Perception”

2014 Conference Program


Director: Mitchell Palmquist

Plenary: Richard McClelland, Gonzaga University

Keynote: Daniel Dombrowski, Seattle University

Hutchins Prize Co-Winners: Ben Hole, University of Washington, “Elitism in Two Approaches to Virtue Ethical Theory: Aristotelian and Stoic” and Noel Saenz, University of Colorado at Boulder “Composition and Facts”

Workshop: Marketing Yourself as a Philosopher



Director: Melissa Thiringer

Plenary: Dan Bradley, Gonzaga University

Keynote: Jonathan Kvanvig, Baylor University

Hutchins Prize Winner: Matthew Braich, University of California San Diego, “Responsibility, Luck, and Rationality”

Workshop: Teaching a Successful Philosophy Class



Director: Lukas Sauer

Plenary: Tom Jeannot, Gonzaga University

Keynote: Christopher Menzel, Texas A&M

Hutchins Prize Winner: Matthew Jacobs, University of Oregon “James, Haraway, and Vision: Finitude and the Optics of Knowledge”

Workshop: Applying for a Philosophy Position


Director: Lukas Sauer

Plenary: Wayne Pomerleau, Gonzaga University

Keynote: Ronald Tacelli, S.J., Boston College

Hutchins Prize Winner: Guy Elgat, Northwestern University, “A Reading of Amor Fati—Nietzsche’s Love of Fate”

Workshop: Choosing Philosophy Textbooks



Director: Adriana Kowal

Plenary: David Calhoun, Gonzaga University

Keynote: Andrew Cutrofello, Loyola University

Hutchins Prize Winner: Joshua Hall, Vanderbilt University, “Reattaching Shadows: Dancing with Schopenhauer”



Directors: Daniel Wagner / Adriana Kowal

Plenary: Rose Mary Volbrecht, Gonzaga University

Keynote: Pol Vandevelde, Marquette University

Hutchins Prize Winner: Daniel Wagner, Gonzaga University, “Contra Al-Ghazali: St. Thomas’ Account of Secondary Cause & God’s Omnipotence”



Director: Daniel Wagner

Keynote: Keith Wyma, Whitworth University

Hutchins Prize Winner: Mason Cole, Texas A&M University “Don’t Play with Matches”



Directors: John van Houdt / Garrin Hertel

Keynote: Forrest Baird, Whitworth University

Hutchins Prize Winner: Todd Trembley, Washington State University “Between Man and Nature: An Environmental Ethic of Encounter”



Directors: Brad Thompson / Brent Diebel

Keynote: Richard McClelland, Gonzaga University


In 2005, a group of Gonzaga graduate students in Dr Michael Tkacz’s Medieval Philosophy course, including Brent Diebel, Brad Thompson, and John van Houdt explored with their professor the idea of a conference at which graduate students could share scholarly work with their peers. After consulting with Gonzaga Philosophy faculty member Erik Schmidt, who served as the first faculty advisor to the conference, the first Gonzaga Graduate Philosophy Conference took place on April 2, 2005, and featured a keynote address by Gonzaga philosopher Richard McClelland. Each year thereafter improvements were made to the conference. Many such improvements came after Debby Hutchins took the role of faculty advisor in 2007, including increasing participation in the conference by graduate students from programs across the U.S. and even abroad, a more formal structure to the conference planning and events, a conference workshop on a topic of professional interest to philosophy graduate students, and a conference-ending banquet for the participants.

A prize for the best paper of the conference, which includes a cash award, was introduced in 2006. In 2013, in honor and recognition of the seven-year advisor term that Gonzaga philosopher Debby Hutchins had served, and the leadership she had offered in helping the graduate students build the professionalism and national reach of the conference, the annual paper prize was formally named the Hutchins Prize.

Gonzaga philosophy professor Dan Bradley became the faculty advisor of the conference in 2013, due to Debby Hutchins’ move from Gonzaga to South Texas College.

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