Tom Stoneham



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

Departmental roles

  • Research Leave 2014-1
  • Department Research Committee

University roles

  • Chair of Graduate Research School Board and all its sub-commitees
  • University Research Committee
  • Special Cases Committee
  • Standing Committee on Assessment
  • Employability Strategy Group
  • International Committee



Research interests

17th century British philosophy (Herbert to Berkeley)

Methodology in metaphysics (e.g. recombination, ontological commitment, truthmaking)

Perceptual consciousness, imagination, and dreaming.

Current projects

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)


Selected publications

Please see my profile in the York Research Database for a full list of publications.



  • Early Modern Philosophy
  • Intermediate Logic
  • Epistemology
  • Twin Earth
  • Atheism and Scepticism


External activities


  • AHRC Peer Review College (Strategic)
  • British Philosophical Association (Executive Committee from 2013)
  • Royal Society of Arts (Fellow from 2013)
  • Mind Association
  • Aristotelian Society
  • International Berkeley Society
  • British Society for the History of Philosophy

Editorial duties

Tom Stoneham

Contact details

Prof. Tom Stoneham
Dean of Graduate Research School
Vice-Chancellor's Department
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904-32-2035