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I have been Professor of Philosophy at York since 2000. Before that I was Ferens Professor of Philosophy and Head of the Philosophy Department at the University of Hull (1995-2000). I went to Hull from the University of Stirling where I had taught in the Philosophy Department from 1972 to 1995, first as lecturer then as senior lecturer.
I have held visiting positions at:
I have long had an interest in relations between philosophy and literature. One of the guiding ideas informing my work has been the thought that engaging with literature is not just a 'natural' activity, reading and responding to texts, but an activity deeply shaped by cultural conventions. These conventions, broadly specifiable within a 'practice' or 'institution', dictate the kinds of expectations that readers bring to literary works and the values they seek from them which the great literary works reward. The attempt to characterise these conventions in a way that is both non-trivial yet able to accommodate the vast variety of literary genres and styles, has been a major objective. More recently I have given attention to poetry asking what is distinctive about poetry among the literary arts. Another, related, longstanding interest is in aesthetics more widely applied. I have written on the ontology of art and artistic value. Broadening out from there I have been thinking about the aesthetics of restoration and of ruins.
I have two rather different projects underway:
Recent undergraduate teaching:
Recent postgraduate teaching:
Current editorial board membership: