Friday, December 18, 2015

APO 2016 High School Essay Contest Brochure, Topics, and Due Date

The due date is February 15, 2016.

Here are the two question choices or topics for the 2016 APO. You may choose either one -- there is no preference or advantage to choosing one over the other -- and write an essay about it in French, German, or Spanish. Then carefully follow the directions in the brochure (the images of which you will see as screanshots, below, in this blog). If you'd like me to send you an original brochure, email me [] or call me [201-227-3265] and leave your name and address. 

Topic I.

Are the recent advances in digital technology that give individuals and groups the ability to communicate near-instantaneously worldwide through social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Whatsapp, Skype, etc.) altering, aiding, or hampering humanity’s ethical progress? How does technological progress relate to ethical progress?

 Topic II.

Here are some idioms that are commonly heard. “It is what it is.” “What goes around comes around.” “It was destined to happen that way.” “He’s in a better place now.” “Maybe it’s all for the best.” “Life’s not fair.” “It’s just fate.” “That’s just how it goes.” “He’ll get his.” “That’s the way the ball bounces.” “You can’t make this stuff up.” These sentences all seem to imply some sort of philosophical meaning. In your philosophical analysis of them, what implications or worldviews do you read in them?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Mordkovich & Poomkudy Win APO 2015 H.S. Philosophy Essay Writing Contest

Congratulations to First Place Writers Elizabeth (Lisa) Mordkovich from Dwight-Englewood School in NJ, and to Jeffrey Poomkudy from The Wheatley School in NY. In May, these two young philosophers will travel with the USA Delegation to Tartu, Estonia for the International Philosophy Olympiad (IPO) 2015.

Lisa wrote her winning essay in Spanish. Jeffrey wrote his in French. The 9th annual American Philosophy Olympiad, APO IX 2015, will now be represented internationally by Lisa and Jeffrey in Tartu, Estonia along with national essay winners from 40 other countries. All representatives are Secondary School students in their respective countries. They come together for five days in May 2015 to meet, talk, share, sight see, and write philosophical essays for four hours all together at the essay writing venue at the Tartu Vocational Education Centre.

We, the committee members of the APO, want to extend our sincere thanks to all students who have submitted essays in French or Spanish -- there were no APO essays written in German this year.* Thank you for participating in the 2015 APO H.S. Philosophy Essay Writing Contest. There have been so many interesting essays to read and evaluate this year that it has been a very difficult task for our committee to make our final decision on the top two essays. Nevertheless, a panel of teachers and professors from two different institutions have made their decisions.

The results of the APO IX 2015 are two GOLD, one SILVER, and one BRONZE level winners. In addition   there were seven Honorable Mention writers. Both the Honorable Mention and Participant certificates will be sent to all young philosophers who have submitted their essays to the APO this year.

          GOLD                       SILVER                     BRONZE                      Honorable Mention

Elizabeth Mordkovich            Ethan Czerniecki           Joon Ho Kim                      Michelle Cirillo          
Jeffrey Poomkudy                                                                                           Paulo Frazao
                                                                                                                    Madhumitha Krishnan
                                                                                                                    Kesavan Kushalnagar
                                                                                                                    Sharon Lin
                                                                                                                    James Liu
                                                                                                                    Anthony Tokarz

The USA participated in the IPO for four non-continuous years between 1999 and 2003. After a hiatus of almost ten years, this is the fifth year of continuous participation. The American Philosophical Association is the sponsor of APO IX. The IPO, of which APO is a part, is sponsored by both UNESCO and FISP (The International Federation of Philosophical Societies).

For a good idea of what the IPO is and how it works, I offer you two links to search. 

The first link includes the topics from past competitions. This will give you a good idea of the types of questions students will be asked to write about in Tartu this year. Also, in this website, you can find the winning essays from IPO 2014. Read one of them to see the type of writing that is highly valued in this competition. The second link is for this year's event. Have fun with them and watch for news and photos from Tartu coming up at the end of May. By the way, our winning papers are to be published here in upcoming blog posts.

We look forward to your comments! 


*The official languages of the IPO are English, French, German, and Spanish. One may not write an essay in one's own native or national language at the IPO competition. Therefore, the official languages of the APO are French, German, and Spanish.

Friday, January 2, 2015

APO 2015 High School Essay Contest Brochure, New Due Date & Topics

The new due date is February 15, 2015.

This due date supercedes the one published in the APO 2015 brochure.

Here are the two question choices or topics for the 2015 APO. You may choose either one -- there is no preference or advantage to choosing one over the other -- and write an essay about it in French, German or Spanish. Then carefully follow the directions in the brochure (the images of which you will see, below, in this blog).

Topic I.

In ancient Greece, the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus, concluded that fundamental reality is never constant and always in a state of flux. To illustrate this point, he was famously quoted as saying “no man ever steps in the same river twice.” Another pre-Socratic philosopher, Parmenides, concluded the opposite, namely that ultimate reality was changeless and indivisible. This became known as the Atomistic (from the Greek word “atomos” or not sliceable) view of the world in which there are unchanging, perfect Forms that comprise reality. In your view, is the fundamental nature of reality in a state of flux (changeable) or is it atomistic (changeless)? Explain and defend your view.

 Topic II.

Assume either that God exists or does not exist, then write about the ethical or moral decision-making process that one would use in either case to make good moral judgments. Assume that the social context of the decision required is religiously pluralistic. Make sure to discuss how one would justify the decision to all involved in such a pluralistic social context in either case. You may use any examples you need to clarify your ideas whether real or invented.