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|2015 -||Dean of Graduate Research School||University of York|
|2008 -||Professor of Philosophy||University of York|
|2006 - 2014||Head of Department||University of York|
|2004 - 2008||Reader in Philosophy||University of York|
|2000 - 2004||Lecturer in Philosophy||University of York|
|1996 - 2000||Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy||Merton College Oxford|
|1994 - 1996||Junior Lecturer||Oxford|
|1995||PhD||Birkbeck College, London|
|1991||MPhil||Birkbeck College, London|
|1989||BA (MA) in PPE||Oriel College, Oxford|
17th century British philosophy (Herbert to Berkeley)
Methodology in metaphysics (e.g. recombination, ontological commitment, truthmaking)
Perceptual consciousness, imagination, and dreaming.
I am in the early stages of writing a book about consciousness. My view is that perception is the paradigm case of consciousness, but that perceiving does not involve a mental state. So the phenomenal character of consciousness in perception is not determined by phenomenal or representational properties of some mental state but the properties of the 'external' objects of perception. But in imaginings and dreamings there are no such objects, so I deny that these are conscious experiences: rather they are a special kind of thought about possible conscious experiences. What about illusions and hallucinations? Well, I an unconvinced that phenomena philosophers allude to really exist in the forms which might create problems for my view.
I am still writing quite a lot about Berkeley. I have been working on Alciphron for a while – inspired by teaching it to 3rd year undergraduates – exploring the dialectic, the argument for Divine Language and the ‘non-cognitivism’ in a series of papers. I am also writing on his account of universal knowledge for a major historical project on universals sponsored by the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, and going back to the Three Dialogues and the role of immediate perception in Berkeley's arguments.
I am interested in some more minor British philosophers of the early modern period, especially Arthur Collier (Clavis Universalis, 1713), Richard Burthogge (Organum Vetus et Novum, 1678) and Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury (De Veritate, 1624). Not only do these philosophers provide useful historical context to the canonical figures, but also they have intriguing ideas which have been all but washed away in the sea of history.
Stemming in part from various curious passages I have come across in early modern philosophical texts, passages which made me realize that mirrors can be and have been conceived of rather differently from how we think of them now, I am planning an inter-disciplinary research project on 'Mirrors: Materials, Metaphors and Models' with colleagues from English, History of Art, Archaeology and Psychology. If you think you could contribute, let me know!
Current Ph.D. Students: Ro Smith (Transcendental Anti-sceptical Arguments), Louise Moody (Disjunctivism and Naïve Realism), Tae Kim (Perceptual Content), Rob Davies (Self-knowledge), Sam Thornton (Evolution, language and cognition)
Recent Ph.D. Students: Richard Flockemann (Self-knowledge and the a priori), Michael Wilby (Intentionality and shared cognition), Han-Kyul Kim (Locke on substance)
Please see my profile in the York Research Database for a full list of publications.