Research projects


Epistemic Norms and Epistemic Functions

PI: Mona Simion
Funded by: the Mind Association

​We often believe without sufficient evidence, assert based on hunches, or rush into action without checking the facts. When we do, we are subject to criticism. This suggests that our beliefs, assertions and actions are governed by epistemic norms. This study develops a novel, integrated account of the epistemic norms governing belief, assertion and practical reasoning. Its central thesis is that these norms are generated by epistemic functions.

New Directions in Social Epistemology

PIs: Adam Carter and Christoph Kelp
Funded by: the British Academy

Social epistemology is among the most timely and thriving areas in contemporary epistemology. With an abundance of information just clicks away, it is more important than ever to know whom to trust, and even more fundamentally, to know what kinds of considerations separate good sources of information from bad ones. The New Directions in Social Epistemology speaker series will be divided over two academic years: 2017-18 and 2018-19, and will operate in three phases, each corresponding with a particular subtheme in social epistemology, including (i) ‘Foundational Issues in Social Epistemology’; (ii) 'Social Epistemology: Epistemic Norms' (iii) 'Social Epistemology and Groups'.

The Epistemic Role of Emotion

PI: Eilidh Harrison
Funded by: College of Arts, University of Glasgow

Folk intuition suggests that emotions are in some sense antithetical to successful reasoning; that emotions distort and manipulate our evaluative perception of ourselves and the world around us. Increasingly, however, philosophical trend has been turning in favour of the thesis that emotions are, in fact, a unique source of various epistemic goods, such as knowledge, understanding, and justification. This latter thesis is my central area of interest. Put specifically, the core question my research aims to address is how emotional experience is capable of providing such a positive epistemic contribution to our body of evaluative knowledge and understanding.

Putting Knowledge First in Epistemology and the Mind

PI: Dario Mortini
Funded by: AHRC

The project explores the different ways in which knowledge comes first, i.e. different priorities of knowledge (normative, conceptual and metaphysical), and further theses stemming from the acceptance of such priorities. In particular, I am interested in questions like the following: why should we not analyse knowledge in more basic elements? If knowledge cannot be analysed, can we still something informative about it? Is knowledge a mental state in its own right? If so, what kind of mental state is it? Can factive mental states play any relevant epistemological roles?

In preparation

Emotions in Epistemology

PI: Michael Brady
CIs: Adam Carter, Robert Cowan, Christoph Kelp, Glen Pettigrove

This project will develop and defend an account of the ‘epistemic value’ of emotion, advancing three claims. (1) Standard thinking on the epistemic value of emotion employs entirely the wrong model. Instead of looking at perception, we ought to focus on skills. (2) Emotional skills stand at the heart of any plausible virtue epistemology. (3) Emotional skills provide the resources needed to develop a plausible account of moral intuitionism. The outcome of the project will be a ground-breaking account of the epistemic importance of emotion and promises to transform how we think about emotion, virtue, knowledge, and morality.

A Virtue Epistemology of Trust

PI: Adam Carter
CIs: Christoph Kelp and Mona Simion

Given the recent erosion of trust in both media and government, we need a better understanding of the mechanisms characterizing and norms governing the very practice of trusting itself. The principal objective of this project will be to show how the methodological insights offered by virtue epistemology afford us hitherto unexplored and promising ways for theorizing fruitfully about trust, and relatedly, about trusting well. In particular, we offer a virtue-theoretic account of (i) the nature and value of trust; (ii) its structural relationship to trustworthiness; and (iii) its normative connections with the social-epistemic practices of assertion, action, and practical reason.

Inquiry and the Nature of Knowledge

PI: Christoph Kelp

This project develops a new research programme for epistemology. The received approach to epistemological theorising aims to understand central phenomena, such as knowledge, by trying to figure out their inner structure. The present project shows that this approach has led to an impasse and has hampered progress in the field. The project’s key contribution is to develop an alternative that aims to understanding central epistemic phenomena like knowledge by investigating how they behave in action. It shows that this alternative is not only viable but also fruitful in that it serves to offer novel perspectives on a number of the most fundamental issues in the field, including the nature, extent and value of central phenomena such as knowledge and understanding.

The Normativity of Refugee Testimony

PIs: Christoph Kelp (Glasgow), Thomas Grundman (Cologne)
CIs: Adam Carter and Mona Simion (Glasgow), Sven Bernecker and Anna-Maria Asunta Eder (Cologne)

​This project proposes to develop the first comprehensive and systematic study of the normativity of refugee testimony. In many European countries, a substantive interview with the refugee is key to the procedure by means of which refugee status is determined. The issue of what good recognition procedures for refugee status are then transforms, to a significant extent, into the issue of how to conduct this interview in an epistemically responsible way.Unfortunately, an account of the normativity of refugee testimony is still missing in the literature.
There are three key strands of philosophical research that bear on this question: (i) the epistemology of testimony; (ii) the epistemology of linguistic understanding; and (iii) the ethics of belief. This project develops an account of the conditions under which it is permissible for us to respond with trust to the testimony of refugees that integrates these research strands.

Knowledge First Social Epistemology

PI: Mona Simion

This highly ambitious project proposes a new research programme for social epistemology, one that puts knowledge first. It starts with the function of social epistemic interactions, i.e. that of generating knowledge. It asks: ‘What are the most reliable ways to proceed in social epistemic interactions in order to generate knowledge?’ The project employs this novel methodology in the service of the epistemology of testimony, disagreement and groups, and develops the first integrated account of the epistemology of mass media in the literature.