Portrait of PhD candidate Sümer Şen
Portrait of PhD candidate Sümer Şen

Sümer Şen wins Jan Brouwer Thesis Award in Philosophy

On Friday 9 February, Sümer Şen was awarded the annual Jan Brouwer Thesis Award. Şen, PhD student at the Center for the History of Philosophy and Science, was awarded the prize in the category of philosophy for his master's thesis Solutions to the problem of evil across Muslim and Christian occasionalists. A comparison of the theodicies of the Ash'arites and Malebranche, which he wrote as part of his Research Master's in Philosophy at Radboud University.

Award ceremony (from 1:11:28 onward)

Watch the full award ceremony 

The Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen annually awards the Jan Brouwers Thesis Awards for the best theses in ten fields within the humanities and social sciences. The jury judges the theses on readability, research quality, originality, social relevance and degree of independent research. The laureates receive a sum of three thousand euros, to be used for their research.

In his thesis, Sümer compares solutions Christian and Muslim occasionalists offer to the problem why evil exists. Occasionalism holds that every occurrence is solely and immediately caused by God. However, from this it would then also follow that God is the cause of all suffering and evil in the world, which opponents of occasionalism used as a criticism. Both Muslim and also Christian occasionalists tried to counter this criticism by explaining how God remained just or all-good despite his creation of suffering and evil, by, for example, putting God above morality, or arguing that evil is necessary for a simple and uniform world.

The similarities and differences between Islamic and Christian occasionalism are currently being further mapped by Sümer in his doctoral research. He will use the prize money from the thesis prize for a research stay in Morocco.

During the award ceremony this Friday 9 February, jury member and professor of philosophy of science James McAllister (Leiden University) will deliver a laudatio and Sümer will receive his prize.

For more information on the award ceremony, visit: https://khmw.nl/events/prijsuitreiking-jan-brouwer-scriptieprijzen/ (in Dutch)

For more information on Sümer's research, see: https://www.ru.nl/en/research/research-projects/why-the-world-has-only-one-agent-a-philosophical-comparison-of-muslim-and-christian-occasionalism 

Contact information

S. Şen (Sümer)
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S. Şen (Sümer)