Meet your tutors
Congratulations on your offer to study with us!
Philosophy at York has staff working on diverse topics. We wanted to give you a chance to find out more about Rob Trueman, who teaches on a range of modules, and serves as our Chair of the Board of Studies.
A little bit about me
I have always loved philosophy. I was lucky to be at a school that offered it in the sixth form. I enjoyed philosophy more than any other subject, and so I chose to study it at university.
I kept on enjoying philosophy - in fact, the more philosophy I read, the more I enjoyed it - so I decided to stay on for a PhD. I received my doctorate from the University of Cambridge in 2013. Shortly after that, I worked at the University of Stirling. In 2016, I started as a lecturer here at York.
I published a book called Properties and Propositions: The Metaphysics of Higher-Order Logic, which aims to show that various claims philosophers have made about properties, facts and propositions are nonsense. I then try to present a new, hopefully more coherent, vision of these categories, and the relationship between them.
More than anything, I am interested in the limits of sense. Philosophers make all sorts of big claims about the world, our minds, God, etc. It's not always clear that their big claims really make sense. Sometimes, it seems like they have been confused by the way our language works, and tricked into making claims that do not actually mean anything. And, in philosophy, mistaking nonsense for sense always leads to paradoxes and puzzles.
I want to solve as many of these paradoxes as I can, by exposing the nonsense they began with. However, I'm definitely not the first philosopher who has had this aim! Questions about the bounds of sense loomed large in early analytic philosophy, which was practised in England and Germany at the turn of the 20th century. As a result, much of my time is spent thinking about the work of early analytic philosophers, such as Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Frank Plumpton Ramsey.
The study of validity
I teach a range of modules, but I focus on topics in logic. At its core, logic is the study of validity: an argument is valid if it is impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false. That may sound like a simple idea, but there are lots of deep philosophical questions to ask about validity! Here is one example: what exactly do we mean by 'impossible' here?
There is also a range of technical, formal questions to ask. For example, could we design a computer that could distinguish between valid and invalid forms of argument? We look at both kinds of question, philosophical and formal, in Reason & Argument (first-year) and Logic & Paradox (second-year).
Philosophy at York
Our community is an open and welcoming place. We have members of staff with a huge range of interests: we have expertise in the philosophy of religion, the philosophy of psychiatry, philosophical logic, the philosophy of art, the philosophy of time, ethics, the philosophy of perception, critical theory, the philosophy of causation, and much more. So, no matter what aspect of philosophy you are most interested in (or maybe you’re interested in all of them!), you will be able to find someone to talk to about it.