Monday, January 14, 2019

APO 2019 English Language Essay Topics

Here are the topics for Stage 1 of the 2019 essay contest. The two topics are published here and nowhere else, as it says in the 2019 brochure. For Stage 1, a student contestant must submit an English essay of no more than 800 words via email that responds to one of the two philosophy topics below.

Topic 1:

"The dreams we imagine when we are asleep should not in any way make us doubt the truth of the thoughts we have when we are awake."
René Descartes, Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy

Guiding Question: Discuss the relationship between knowing for certain and the value of doubt.

Topic 2:

“Assuming that it is possible for humans to one day build a replica of ourselves and make all the necessary neural connections into which we can upload all the “data” that makes us conscious, and that this replicant would then be considered conscious, it should be considered murder to delete that replicant’s data.”
David Chalmers, 2018

Guiding Question: Is it morally permissible to terminate (kill?) a manufactured form of consciousness?


You may respond to either one of these topics in the most philosophical way you can. We will judge the essays and choose a number of finalists who will proceed to Stage 2. The instructions for Stage 2 will be given to the finalists at the appropriate time.

You may want to consult our guide to writing philosophy essays called, How To Write a Philosophy Essay, A Guide for IPO Contestants that you can find at the following URL:

If you don't have an APO 2019 brochure to read all about our contest, take a look at it in the previous post in this blog.

The address to which you will send your essay is on the brochure, but for your convenience I will include it here as well. You may send in your essay using one of three methods: Send it to our US mail address to Joseph A. Murphy, American Philosophy Olympiad, Ethics and Philosophy Chair, Dwight-Englewood School, 315 East Palisade Avenue, Englewood, NJ 07631 Or send it by email to (preferred address even though it – mistakenly – does not appear on the brochure). Or to If you email it, please write "APO and IPO" in the subject line. If you want or need to fax it, the number is 201-569-0047.

The Stage 1 Deadline for the English Essay Submission is February 4, 2019.

We'll notify finalists by February 11, 2019. Then finalists must submit a letter of recommendation from a teacher and a letter from their school administration that grants time away from school to participate in the IPO 2019 contest. The Deadline for the submission of these letters is February 20, 2019.

The Primary Online Contest Date (Stage 2 of the contest) for finalists is February 23, 2019. The Alternate Contest Date is February 24, 2019.

All contact info is the same for all stages and for the letters.

Good luck!

2019 APO -- National HS Philosophy Essay Contest

Here are photos of the brochure for the 2019 American Philosophy Olympiad's National HS Philosophy Olympiad. You have probably been directed to this blog by either reading the brochure directly or by some other means -- it may have been mailed to you or to your school, you may have seen it on our Facebook page, or it may have been shared with you. These are not very clear photos of the brochure. We might be able to upload new images soon. In any case, the topics, which you can only read in this blog will appear in the next blog post, coming immediately after this one is posted.