Current and previous PhD research

Current PhD Research

Carlos Acosta Gastélum

  • The Philosophical Theology of the XVIII C. Reverend Charles Chauncy of Boston
  • To give an account on the philosophical dimension in the theology of the Reverend Charles Chauncy, particularly with regard to his notion of the nature of Justification –its causes, evidences of it, etc.; but also his notion of the role played by divine grace in it (both operative and co-operative grace) and of the concept of conversion as a transformative experience in the spiritual growth of the individual.
  • Supervisor: David Efird

David Austin

  • The nature of assertion and its place within the wider field of communication
  • Supervisors: Tom Stoneham and Greg Currie

John Blechl

  • Missing Pieces: Locating Berkeley’s Apparently Abandoned Parts of the Principles”
  • Missing Pieces investigates George Berkeley’s design to refute sceptical and atheistic thinkers during his time by questioning the dogmatic assumption Berkeley abandoned his intended scheme. In 1710, the Principles was first published as ‘Part 1.’ However, the intended Part 2 and possible Part 3 never appeared and the descriptor ‘Part 1’ was removed from later editions of the Principles. To date, no systematic examination has considered this program in its own right or its importance to Berkeley’s system as a whole. Drawing on explicit, implicit, and reasonably inferred objectives of this plan, the study probes Berkeley’s corpus for its execution and completion. The outcomes will either support the traditional assertion of abandonment or provide evidence for the fulfilment of the project, and they will bear significance on the continuity of Berkeley’s thought and his relation and influence on other Early Modern philosophers.
  • Supervisor: Tom Stoneham

Martin Bloomfield

  • A Faith Without Foundation
  • I'm interested in how we can start from a broadly anti-foundationalist, anti-realist, non-absolutist position (such as, for instance, that espoused by Rorty) yet at the same time hold religious beliefs. My research has led me to explore the philosophical work of Cornel West, who professes both a form of neopragmatism articulated in the terms we have just laid out and re-packaged as historicism, and a strong Christian faith. But West's historicism leads him into epistemic relativism, from where it appears very difficult to make any satisfactory claims about God at all, let alone one's relationship with him. My job is to follow him down the rabbit hole without getting lost, and come out of the other side with a coherent understanding of what such a faith, as well as the moral and epistemic claims that go alongside it, might look like.
  • Supervisor: David Efird

Eleanor Byrne

  • My research explores how adopting a phenomenological perspective towards chronic fatigue, and unfortunate and poorly understood condition, provides a uniquely rich understanding of its experience, specifically regarding its relationship to experiences of depression. I offer a philosophical examination of the two phenomena, and explore the idea chronic fatigue is generally meaningfully similar to, and perhaps sometimes indistinguishable from, depression. I also explore some of the practical considerations that follow from this analysis, engaging with material from social epistemology in order to demonstrate that better understanding the relationship between chronic fatigue and depression can help to tackle certain injustices experienced by patients.

  • Supervisor: Matthew Ratcliffe and Stephen Holland

Jamie Cawthra

  • Impossible Fictions
  • Stories frequently depict impossible circumstances. In fictions from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to The Shining, a range of different impossibilities are used. Previous research on this topic has looked at the metaphysics and logic of these depictions, but I propose an aesthetic evaluation of these fictions, understanding them first and foremost as artistic endeavours. My work explores the aesthetic effects of these impossibilities, as well as their influence on the way we imagine and interpret fictions.
  • Supervisor: Greg Currie

Celia Coll

  • Supervisors: Owen Hulatt and Peter Lamarque

Chris Complin

  • Supervisor: Greg Currie

Nick Courtney

  • Perception as the source of all knowledge: intrinsic properties and mind-independence
  • I argue that perceptual experience is what explains our acquisition of our basic concepts, such as our concepts of spatial properties. It does this by providing the subject with knowledge of what those properties are like. Perceptual experience has two distinct dimensions - a subjective dimension and an objective dimension. I argue that both dimensions of perceptual experience are necessary components of its aforementioned epistemic function. I argue that only when perception is thought of on the Naive realist model can we see how the objective and subjective dimensions of perceptual  experience can co-exist without interfering with one another. Moreover, this duality of dimensions may also provide the subject with one basis for the conceptual distinction between subject (i.e. herself) and object.
  • Supervisors: Louise Richardson and Paul Noordhof

Rebecca Davis

  • Area of research: Thick Concepts
  • Supervisors: Mary Leng and Stephen Everson

Sam Dickson

  • My research is in metaphysics and the philosophy of mathematics. In many areas of philosophy there are debates between those who postulate abstract objects and nominalists who prefer to postulate only concrete objects. Abstract object theories are attractive because of their explanatory power and their fit with intuition and ordinary language usage. Nominalist theories are attractive because they offer a clear account of epistemology and do not posit mysterious objects. However, nominalist theories often pay for this with a dramatic loss of simplicity, whereas abstract object theories are committed to mysterious objects. I aim to see if postulating a third kind of object, the ‘quasi-abstract’, can help to resolve these debates. Specifically, I want to see if appealing to quasi-abstract objects in the philosophy of mathematics can help us deal with epistemological concerns without sacrificing simplicity and explanatory power, if the project is successful then I believe it can be extended to other areas of debate and bridge gaps between nominalist and abstract object theories.

  • Supervisor: Mary Leng

Jacopo Frascaroli

  • Learning from fiction
  • Critics and philosophers claim that fiction is a source of truth or insight; others in the same fields deny this. The debate has, however, rarely been informed by the kind of evidence that current psychology is producing on this topic. And while psychological work in this area is welcome, much of it so far does not address the claims in the critical and philosophical literature. The project, funded by the Leverhulme Foundation, brings these strands of research together. Combining state-of-the-art experiments with a philosophical framework for thinking about learning from fiction, it will strengthen existing evidence in ways that address the concerns of humanistic scholars.
  • Supervisors: Greg Currie and Stacie Friend (Birkbeck)

Denise Goh

  • Supervisors: James Clarke, Owen Hulatt

Britt Harrison

  • Cinematic Humanism: Realism not empiricism
  • Cinematic Humanism is the philosophical understanding of the fact that fictional films provide valuable insights into what it is to be human. It provides a unique appreciation of the relationship between the cognitive, the aesthetic and the cinematic. Prompted by this century’s latest developments in the philosophy of art and literature, particularly arguments for a so-called new ‘Literary Humanism’, Cinematic Humanism is the first-ever extension of this principled approach into the area of film, rooting its philosophical authority in the philosophy of language,aesthetics,  epistemology and the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein.
  • Supervisor: Peter Lamarque

Declan Hartness

  • The aim of my research is to examine the role that ignorance plays in contemporary problems in the metaphysics of consciousness.

  • Supervisor: Tom Stoneham

Nasir Khan

  • Supervisor: Paul Noordhof

William Kilborn

  • A New System of Worlds
  • I develop and defend a new modal metaphysics. The resultant system is one that is influenced by, yet significantly diverges from, the work of David Lewis and Timothy Williamson.
  • Supervisor: David Efird

Bridger Landle

  • The Metaphysics of Fission
  • Supervisor: David Efird

Stylianos Panagiotou

  • Philosophy of action/free will
  • Supervisor: Tom Stoneham

Omar Payne (MA by research)

  • Equality and Liberty
  • Supervisor: Alan Thomas

Sara Peppe

  • Supervisor: Mary Leng

Zoe Porter

  • Where is Moral Responsibility Located for the Effects of an Autonomous System's Actions?

  • Supervisor: Steve Holland and Paul Noordhof

Anu Selvaraj-Thomson

  • My research, which is a philosophical examination of love for learning seeks solutions for young people’s disengagement with learning. Young people who “haven’t withdrawn from schools but are not fully taking part either because they have given up any trying or because they resist to do so” (Lumby, 2013) is estimated at between one fifth and one third of all 14-16 year olds (Steedman & Stoney, 2004). This is extremely worrying.Much of the new curricula for education cite the love for learning as the linchpin for continual personal and professional development. In spite of this, there has been very little research into what ‘love’ in love for learning refers to, and why exactly it should be seen as something worth pursuing. Without a clear understanding of what exactly this love entails, how can we do any real work to foster or encourage it?  In line with this, my research focuses on why love for learning is a valuable thing and how, if it is at all possible, does one begin to 'love learning'? For example, is this something that can be taught or acquired, or something that is innately possessed but needs to be recognised or 'triggered', or a combination?  Based on my findings, I also hope to present a basic ‘toolkit’ that could assist educators and policy makers in encouraging this love for learning.
  • Supervisor: Dorothea Debus and Matthew Ratcliffe

Joshua Sijuwade

  • The Gap Problem and the Metaphysics of God
  • Supervisor: David Efird

Jared Stoughton

  • The Two Truths in Vasubandhu’s Sautrāntika
  • Supervisors: Paul Noordhof and Amber Carpenter

Tamsin Timbrell

  • What are musical works, and how might we analyse the creative processes of their composition and performance?
  • I will be researching the ontology of musical works, and the implications which answers to ontological questions about music have for our understanding of the creative processes of composition and performance, and our definitions of creativity. Some of the ontological questions I will be focusing on are: what types of entities are musical works? Are musical works created or discovered? What are the criteria for the numerical and qualitative identity of musical works and their performances? And where do musical works exist in time? I hope to establish a Complex Platonist view of musical works, following the work of Jerrold Levinson (1980), who views musical works as abstract types which are instantiated by performances. The Complex Platonist also considers musical works to be partially discovered and partially created, which I believe will have important implications for how we view composition and performance, and for our definitions of creativity. For example, if musical works were entirely discovered, it would seem that the composer would not be bringing the work into existence. On the other hand, if musical works are created, the composer plays a more active role. I will also discuss performance: how a musician interacts with a musical work, and how the interpretation or editing of a musical work might affect its identity. 
  • Supervisor: Peter Lamarque

Adam Timmins

  • Towards a Realist Philosophy of Historiography
  • Supervisor: Tom Stoneham and Owen Hulatt

Luke Townend

  • Can a purely evaluative realism avoid the Argument from Queerness
  • The Argument from Queerness says we should not accept the existence of moral facts because something about them is ontologically or metaphysically troubling. The best versions claim that this something is their normative (reason-giving) character. My project is to see whether we can get around this problem by accounting for morality entirely in terms of evaluative claims, which are concerned with goodness and badness rather than with reasons. To show that we can, I will have to argue that such a view is itself coherent with itself and our intuitions about the structure of morality.
  • Supervisors: Johan Gustafsson and Christian Piller

Jack Warman

  • The Epistemological Significance of Irrelevant Causal Factors
  • How should we respond to the fact that our confidence in many of our beliefs can be explained by facts about our upbringing and background? It seems, for instance, that our religious beliefs are often held as a result of our upbringing. Although we often have reasons to offer in defence of our religious beliefs, it seems as if these reasons might also be explained by similar facts about our upbringing and background. The problem is, oftentimes these facts have no bearing on whether the beliefs which they explain are true or false. In this sense, they are irrelevant. This seems to be problematic. I hope to find a way to more systematically account for, and respond to, this apparent problem of the irrelevant causes. I will draw on psychological and sociological findings as well as the growing body of work in social epistemology.
  • Supervisor: David Efird

Deborah Wells

  • Experience, Rationalism and Psychosis: A Dennettian and Prediction Error Account
  • The aim of my research is to develop a Dennettian and Prediction Error account of psychosis. It is a rationalist approach to the extent that the features of psychosis are addressed wholly in terms of biological and cognitive function and the observable behaviours of an agent who interacts within an environment—within which the agent's cultural, social, interpersonal and personal circumstances are held to assume a key explanatory role. However, it is mild rationalist approach in so much as it freely acknowledges the significant role that anomalous experience may assume in particular cases.
  • Supervisor: Paul Noordhof

Lillian Wilde

  • Trauma often occurs collectively, in catastrophes such as terror, war, and natural disasters. However, also personal traumata like domestic abuse or the unexpected loss of a loved one do not concern the affected individual alone but have a severe impact on intersubjective and social experience. Many people suffering after traumatic experiences do not only experience flashbacks, amnesia, and dissociation; they often cease to experience others as other subjects that offer possibilities for interaction. The individual’s ability to take the other’s perspective, attune to their physical and mental states, or to have an empathic connection is thereby impacted. I suggest that the intersubjective experience of the traumatised individual is impacted. With my research, I wish to contribute to the discussion of post-traumatic psychopathologies from a principally phenomenological perspective. The main question I pursue is to what extend posttraumatic experience involves a disturbance of intersubjectivity and which implications this view might have. I question whether PTSD is a useful concept in this inquiry.

  • Supervisor: Matthew Ratcliffe

Ed Willems

  • Supervisors: Keith Allen and Owen Hulatt

Jane Wilson

  • Is forgiveness compatible with justice?
  • Both forgiveness and justice are required to facilitate positive interpersonal relationships, which are essential to our well-being. The paradox of forgiveness demonstrates that they result in incompatible consequences for wrongdoing; justice demands some sort of adverse consequence which is, at least in part, negated if we forgive.
  • Supervisor: David Efird and Martin O'Neill

Richard Worsley

  • Supervisor: David Efird

Catherine Yarrow

  • The philosophy of religious language
  • Supervisor: David Efird

Xuanqi Zhu

  • Human aesthetic preferences -- their origin and development from the perspective of evolution.
  • Supervisors: Greg Currie and Penny Spikins

Past theses

  • Thippapan Chuosavasdi - Anger in Buddhist Philosophy: In Defence of Eliminativism (2018)
  • Eleanor Byrne - The Phenomenology of Pregnancy and Early Motherhood (2018) (MA by research)
  • Rafael D'Aversa - Moral Arguments and the Frege-Geach Problem (2018)
  • Gordon Haynes - First-Person Perspective and Autistic Spectrum Disorder (2018) (MPhil)
  • Grace Whistler - Between Content and Form: Camus' Literary Ethics (2018)
  • Elisabeth Thorsson - Between Empiricism and Platonism: The Concept of Reason in Locke’s Philosophy (2018)
  • Andy Haggerstone - Language, Fantasy and Story-Telling: How Humans Became Creative (2018)
  • Conny Rhode - Dialogical Empiricism: The Burden of Proof upon Metaphysical Methods (2018)
  • David Worsley - Making Amends: Atonement and the Second-Person (2017)
  • David Price - Application and Ontology in Mathematics: a Defence of Fictionalism (2017)
  • Robert Davies - Self-Knowledge, Memory, and Deliberation (2017)
  • Christopher Hodder - A Structured Approach to the Adam Smith Problem (2016)
  • Joshua Cockayne - Kierkegaard and the God-Relationship (2016)
  • Helen Bradley - Pictorial Representation and the Significance of Style (2016)
  • Louise Moody - Naive Realism, Imaginative Disjunctivism, and the Problem of Misleading Experience (2015)
  • Christopher Robbins - Pascal and the Therapy of Faith (2015)
  • Rosemary Jane Smith - Transcendental Arguments and Scepticism (2015)
  • Suki Finn - Neo-Carnapian Quietism (2015)
  • Mats Volberg - The Foundation and Nature of Contemporary Liberalism (2015)
  • Tae-Kyung Kim - The demonstrative concept, the problem of reference, and the first person (2015)
  • Daniel Molto - Relative identity and logic (2015)
  • Daniel Gustafsson - A Philosophy of Christian Art (2015)
  • Dom Shaw - The Contemporary Relevance of Merleau-Ponty's Philosophy (2015)
  • Ken Pepper - Pushing the boundaries of consciousness and cognition (2015)
  • Filippo Contesi - The Disgusting in Art (2014)
  • Rafe McGregor - The Autonomy of Aesthetic Virtue (2014)
  • Richard Tamburro - The Free Actions of Glorified Saints (2014)
  • Ema Sullivan Bissett - Belief, Truth, and Biological Function (2014)
  • Wattaneeporn Kajornprasart - Isaiah Berlin (2014)
  • Brendan Harrington - The pernicious problems of the scheme/content distinction (2014)
  • Jenny Campbell - A second natural analysis of freedom and moral responsibility (2013)
  • David Stocks (MPhil) - The trust between patient and doctor (2012)
  • Bob Clark - A Wittgensteinian perspective on (apparent) problems to do with the applicability of mathematics (2011)
  • Owen Hulatt - Adorno (2011)
  • Vladislav Vojotovic (2011)
  • Robin Dennis - Egocentricity and Objectivity (2011)
  • Richard Flockemann (2011)
  • Rachael Wiseman - Speaking on Oneself (2010)
  • Eva-Maria Düringer - Emotions and Values (2010)
  • Elaine Horner - Leaving the Question of Truth: The Grammar of Colour (2009)
  • Michael John Wilby - How the Folk Make the Mind (2008)
  • Christopher Michael Dowling - The Vindication of Aesthetic Empiricism (2007)
  • Mahlet-Tsigé Getachew - The Redress of Metaphor: A Philosophical Slant (2007)
  • Mark A. Turner - Language, Thought and Psychopathology: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Psychosis (2005)
  • Han-Kyul Kim - John Locke: Agnostic Essentialist, Nominal Dualist, Symmetric Monist. A New Interpretation of His Metaphysics of Mind and Matter (2002)
  • Aliou Tall - From Mathematics in Logic to Logic in Mathematics: Boole and Frege (2002)
  • Stephen Holland - A Critique of John McDowell’s Philosophy of Value (2000)
  • Beth Anne Savickey - Wittgenstein’s Method of Grammatical Investigation (1995)
  • Daniel Douglas Hutto - The Presence of Mind: An Investigation and Defense of Commonsense Psychology (1993)
  • Sonya Sikka - Three Forms of Transcendence: A Study of Heidegger and Medieval Mystical Theology (1993)
  • Marcus John Towse - Intentionality, Morality and Humanity (1990)
  • Alan Bailey - The Pyrrhonean Way of Sextus Empiricus (1988)
  • Rosemary Newman - Sensibility and the Imagination (1988)
  • Mark William Rowe - Philosophy, Psychology, Criticism: A Defense of Traditional Aesthetics (1986)
  • William John Robinson - Holism, Semantics and Ontology (1984)
  • Colin Stirling - The Foundations of Logical Analyses of Tense (1980)
  • Aletta Ann Barton - The Possibility of Objectivity in Moral Argument: Some Aspects of Utilitarian Morality in the Work of R. M. Hare and Philippa Foot (1979)
  • John Philip Nolan - The Thing-in-Itself in Kant’s Philosophy (1975)
  • John Holliday Lane - The Christian Concept of Mystery in Doctrine. An Examination of John Toland's 'Christianity Not Mysterious' (1696), its Allies and Critics (1974)
  • Roger Martin - Hume on Personal Identity (1974)