Professor Fiona Macpherson
- Professor of Philosophy (Philosophy)
My research concerns the nature of consciousness, perception and perceptual experience, introspection, imagination and the metaphysics of mind. I work in an interdisciplinary manner spanning philosophy, psychology and neuroscience. I work on the following topics: the structure of experience, cognitive penetration, the nature and individuation of the senses, cross-modal intersensory phenomena, sensory substitution and augmentation, hallucination, illusion, delusion, virtual and augmented reality, novel colours, inverted spectra, ambiguous and impossible figures, synaesthesia, the admissible contents of experience, disjunctivism and representational theories of phenomenal character.
Awarded £716,743 towards Project Mobius, a £911,713 project, working with local VR company Sublime to produce 10 VR University teaching apps and an underlying platform that gathers data about use. It will also allow for the creation of two high-capacity VR teaching labs. The grant is from Innovate UK (for October 2018 – 2021).
Awarded a grant from the College of Arts to take part in the British Council Spark Festival of Ideas in Hong Kong, January 2019, where Neil McDonnell and I showcased our VR work.
Awarded further grant to develop the Illusions Index quiz by the University of Glasgow Knowledge Exchange Fund (£3,706)
Awarded a grant from the College of Arts PG Engagement fund towards equipment for public events (£650)
Awarded a grant of £3,312 from the College of Arts for Teaching Buy-Out for 2018-19 to carry out impact case work
Awarded £2,000 from the University of Glasgow Knowledge Exchange Fund for travel and accommodation for three people to run a research stall at the Cheltenham Science festival
Awarded College of Arts three-year strategic support grant to run the Philosophy, Psychology, Neuroscience seminars (£2,500 in each of the three years)
Awarded School of Humanities Research grant for giving a talk at the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology in San Antonio Texas, 2018 (£1,600)
I have been awarded as CoI, with Pi Adam Zeman at Exeter, a grant of £80,000 from the AHRC for follow-on funding for our The Eye's Mind Project.
I have been awarded grants of £2,500 from the School of Humanaites, £2,500 from the College of Arts, and £2,00 from the Glasgow Knowledge Exhcange Fund, University of Glasgow to fund a postdoc to work on the Illusions Index, August - September 2017.
Neil McDonnell and I have been awarded a grant of £6,670 from the Templeton Foundation via the The New Directions in the Study of Mind Project at the University of Cambridge for a project on Virtual and Augmented Reality, which will run from April - June 2017.
Neil McDonnell and I have been awarded a grant of £15,000 from the University of Glasgow Knowledge Exchange Fund for a project on Virtual and Augmented Reality, which will run from January - March 2017.
Keith Wilson and I have been awarded a grant of £9,824 from the Templeton Foundation via the The New Directions in the Study of Mind Project at the University of Cambridge for a project on Synchronising the Senses, which will run from June - August 2017.
Stephan Leuenberger and I have been awarded a grant of £58,609.94 from the Templeton Foundation via the The New Directions in the Study of Mind Project at the University of Cambridge for a project on Sense-Data: Phenomenology and Metaphysics, which will run from July 2016 - July 2017.
The Royal Society of Edinburgh have awarded the project “Understanding the Senses: Past and Present” a Humanities Network Award of £19,986.20. Elizabeth Robertson (English, Glasgow) is the PI and myself and Annette Kern-Stahler (English, Bern) are a Co-Is. The project will run from March 2015 – 2016.
|2014||The John Templeton Foundation, via the Emergence Project at the University of Durham have awarded £50,000 to the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience's Project on Emergence. The project starts in October 2014 and lasts for one year. Stephan Leuenberger and I are PIs.|
|2014||The Arts and Humanities Research Council have awarded a grant of £80,000 to the project The Eye's Mind on which I am co-investigator. The project starts on 1 January 2015 and lasts for one year. The PI is Professor Adam Zeman (Neuroscience, Exeter).|
|2013||The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) have awarded a grant of 1.9 million pounds to the project Re-Thinking the Senses on which I am co-investigator.|
|2013||Faculty of Arts Strategic Research Fund award to attend the Primary and Secondary Qualities Workshop in Dubrovnik (£350)|
|2012/13||British Academy conference grant (£12,000), Chancellor's Fund of the Univeristy of Glasgow grant (£6,000) and a contribution from the Network for Sensory Research (£3,000) to host the Sensory Substitution and Augmentation Conference in March 2013 at the British Academy.|
|2012||Visiting Professorship award from the Institute of Philosophy, University of London, for 2012-13 (£6,000).|
|2012||Visiting academic: Dr Derek Brown (Brandon University, Canada), Autumn 2012, visits the Centre and Professor Macpherson, funded by a Royal Society of Edinburgh International Exchange Programme grant awarded to Professor Macpherson (£2850).|
|2012||Graduate Conference: The Problems of Philosophy: Then and Now, June 2012. Funding: Mind Association (£600), the Analysis Trust (£400), the Bertrand Russell Society (£637), John Hopkins University Press (£400), The Scots Philosophical Association (£2,000), and the College of Arts Graduate School of the University of Glasgow (£1,000).|
|2011||Awarded an AHRC Fellowship for 2012-13 to work on a project entitled Perception, Imagination and the Structure of Consciousness: £68,375.
Abstract: I will investigate the nature of perception and perceptual experience. The research focuses around two main questions. First, whether perceptual experiences, involved in seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting the world, can be affected by cognitive states such as beliefs, desires and expectations. This question is whether 'cognitive penetration' can occur and if it occurs I will examine in what conditions it does so. The existence of cognitive penetration is highly disputed. My distinctive and original contribution will be to argue that cognitive penetration can take place, however, I will claim that one needs more substantial argument to show this than is usually given.
The second question is: What is the nature of perceptual experience, such that it can be so influenced by beliefs, desires and expectations? I will explore mechanisms by which cognition may affect experience. I will argue that one mechanism that can explain many cases of cognitive penetration involves perceptual imagination affecting perceptual experience. I will also argue that imagination's influence on experience can account for many features of perceptual experience that have resisted explanation, in particular, types of experience of absence.
Thus my research will cast light on the nature of perceptual experience. Insight will be gained about the nature of the structure of experience and its representational and conscious aspects. The implications of the existence of cognitive penetration for epistemology and ethics will also be made vivid.
|2011||Co-applicant on a Partnership Development Grant for the Network for Sensory Research, from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada: $199,400 (Canadian Dollars). The Network is a research partnership between the Departments of Philosophy at Toronto (Principal Investigator: Mohan Matthen), Harvard (Co-Investigator: Susanna Siegel), MIT (Co-Investigator: Alex Byrne), the Centre for the Study of the Senses of the Institute of Philosophy (Co-Investigator: Barry Smith), and the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience at the University of Glasgow (Co-Investigator: Fiona Macpherson). Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and by the partner institutions, this will be a philosophy-led, interdisciplinary, international network of researchers to study how the brain/mind integrates information from the senses.|
|2011||Conference: ‘Perceptual Imagination and Perceptual Memory’, 6 - 9 September 2011. Organised jointly with Fabian Dorsch (Fribourg). Funding: £3,000 Mind Association; £2,000 Scots Philosophical Association; £1,410, Department of Philosophy, University of Fribourg; £600 Strategic Research Fund, College of Arts, University of Glasgow.|
|2011||Conference: ‘Graduate Conference on the Metaphysics of Mind’, June 2011. Funding: £3,000 Mind Association; £1,000 Scots Philosophical Association; £750 Graduate School, College of Arts, University of Glasgow.|
|2011||Workshop: ‘Cognitive and Cross-Modal Effects on Vision’, 26 and 27 March 2011. Organised with Athanassios Raftopoulos (University of Cyprus) and the Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London. Funding: £800 Mind Association; £2,000 The Scots Philosophical Association; £750 British Society for the Philosophy of Science.|
|2010||Conference: ‘Mind, Science and Everything!’, Graduate Conference, 25 – 26 June 2010. Funding: £700 University of Glasgow Faculty of Arts Graduate School; £437 British Society for the Philosophy of Science; £225 Mind Association; £250 Aristotelian Society. Orgnaised with Neil McDonnell and Umut Baysan.|
|2010||British Academy Overseas Conference Grant to present a paper on the senses at the American Philosophical Association Conference in San Francisco (£500)|
|2010||Faculty of Arts Strategic Research Fund award to present a paper on the senses at the American Philosophical Association Conference in San Francisco (£500)|
|2010||Conference: ‘Phenomenal Presence: What is Phenomenally Given in Experience?’, 7 – 9 June 2010, University of Fribourg. Organised this jointly with Martine Nida-Rümelin, Fabrice Theler and Fabian Dorsch of the University of Fribourg. Funding: £1908 University of Fribourg; £8904 Pro*Doc Graduate School ‘Mind and Reality’ Universities of Fribourg, Geneva and Lausanne.|
|2009||Faculty of Arts Strategic Research Fund award to reply to a paper at the Department of Philosophy, Central European University, Budapest (£300)|
|2009||Seminar Series: Philosophy of Mind and Psychology (September 2009 – present), jointly organized with the Department of Psychology. Funding: £400 University of Glasgow Faculty of Arts Strategic Research Fund; £400 Department of Psychology, University of Glasgow.|
|2009||Conference: ‘Varieties of Experience Graduate Conference’, July 2009. Funding: £500 Scots Philosophical Club; £500 University of Glasgow Faculty of Arts Strategic Research Fund. Organised with Stuart Critchfield and Robert Cowan.|
|2008||Faculty of Arts Strategic Research Fund award to reply to a paper at a workshop ‘The Role of Thought in Consciousness’, Harvard University (£490)|
|2008||University of Glasgow Chancellor’s Fund to give a paper at the SPAWN Conference on Perception at Syracuse University and to visit academics in Boston (£1,500)|
|2008||Carnegie Trust Grant for research expenses for visit to the Centre for Consciousness, Australian National University (£2,500)|
|2008||Conference: 'Hallucination on Crete', 11 – 14 September 2008, Crete. Organised jointly with the Department of Philosophy and Social Studies, and the Mind and Brain Graduate Programme, University of Crete. Funding: 8,000 Euros Greek Government and the University of Crete; £1,000 Scots Philosophical Club; £500 University of Glasgow Faculty of Arts Strategic Research Fund.|
|2007||Faculty of Arts Strategic Research Fund award to present a paper at the 'Self-Knowledge and Agency Conference, Centre for Philosophy, Jawharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India (£700)|
|2007||British Academy Overseas Conference Grant to present a paper at the 'Self-Knowledge and Agency’ Conference, Centre for Philosophy, Jawharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India (£600)|
|2007||Workshop: ‘Perception and Introspection’, 16 November 2007. Funding: £1,900 in total from The Aristotelian Society, The Analysis Trust, the Scots Philosophical Club and the University of Glasgow Faculty of Arts Strategic Research Fund.|
|2006||Conference: 'The Admissible Contents of Experience', 20 – 22 March 2006. Funding: £9,500 in total from the Philosophical Quarterly, The British Academy, The Mind Association, The Analysis Trust, and the University of Glasgow Faculty of Arts Strategic Research Fund.|
|2006||Workshop: 'Art and the Senses', on 7 October 2006, jointly with Professor Robert Hopkins, at the University of Sheffield. Funding: approximately £500 from the British Association for Aesthetics and the Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield.|
|2005||Conference: ‘Graduate Conference on Philosophy of Perception’ 8 October 2005. Funding: £2000, AHRC; £400 Faculty of Arts, University of Glasgow. Organised with Dimitris Platichias.|
|2005||Conference: 'Disjunctivism: Perception, Action, Knowledge' 4 – 5 June 2005. Funding: £2,500 in total from The Mind Association, The Royal Institute of Philosophy, The Analysis Trust, Blackwell's on behalf of the Philosophical Quarterly, and the Scots Philosophical Club.|
|2004||Conference: 'Individuating the Senses' 4 – 5 December 2004. Funding: £5,000 in total from The British Academy, The Mind Association, The Analysis Trust, The Scots Philosophical Club, Blackwell's on behalf of Analysis, and the University of Glasgow Faculty of Arts Strategic Research Fund.|
|2004||Seminar series on 'Disjunctivism', Autumn 2004. Funding: £950 in total from the Scots Philosophical Club and the University of Glasgow Faculty of Arts Strategic Research Fund.|
|1999||Royal Institute of Philosophy Jacobsen Fellowship (funding tuition fees and living expenses for one year of the PhD)|
|1999||British Federation of Women Graduates Grant (for additional living expenses for one year of the PhD)|
|1998||Kennedy Scholarship to attend Harvard University for one year as a Visiting Fellow in Philosophy (covered tuition fees, living expenses, medical insurance and travel costs)|
|1997||Royal Institute of Philosophy bursary (for additional living expenses for one year of the PhD)|
|1995||Major Scottish Studentship from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (funding three years of PhD tuition fees and living expenses)|
|1995||Stirling/St. Andrews Graduate Philosophy Programme 'top-up' award (for additional living expenses for three years of the PhD)|
|1994||One year postgraduate scholarship from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (funding tuition fees and living expenses for the MLitt)|
|1994||Stirling/St. Andrews Graduate Philosophy Programme 'top-up' award (for additional living expenses for the one year MLitt)|
|1993||Edward Caird Medal for Moral Philosophy from the University of Glasgow|
|1993||MacLagan Prize for Moral Philosophy from the University of Glasgow|
|1992||Thomas Holt Prize for Logic from the University of Glasgow|
I am happy to supervise Masters and PhD students in philosophy of mind, psychology and perception and related areas. I also welcome applications from students studying elsewhere who would like to spend time as a visiting research student working with me and/or at the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience. Please see the philosophy postgraduate webpages for details of postgraduate degrees that we offer and funding or for how to apply to be a visiting student.
Current Graduate Students:
Steven Broadrick, PhD Topic: What can the predictive brain hypothesis tell us about colour perception?
Findlay Reid PhD Topic: Dreams and Morality
Raul Ros Moralez, PhD Topic: Hallucination
Adriana Alcaraz Sanchez, MPhil Topic: The Self and Bodily Ownership
Visiting Graduate Students:
February - June 2016 Geraldine Carranante (Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris)
November - December 2015 Marta Benenti (University of Turin)
September – December 2014 Mika Suojanen (University of Turku)
Feb 2012 - Aug 2013, December 2013, and May 2014 Ariel Cecchi (University of Geneva) PhD Topic: The Epistemology of Perception
May 2014 Daniel Gregory (Australian National University)
November 2013 Paweł Zięba (Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland)
October 2013 Błażej Skrzypulec (Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland)
May - August 2013 Mette Hansen (University of Bergen)
May - August 2013 Morten Nag Opsal (University of Bergen)
October - December 2012 Oscar Ralsmark (University of Lund)
October 2012 Mette Hansen (University of Bergen)
November 2011 Błażej Skrzypulec (Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland)
Previous Graduate Students:
2013 - 2019 Sheena McAnulla, PhD Topic: Panpsychism
2017 - 2019 Joquim Gianotto, PhD Topic: The Dual Nature of Properties
2014 - 2016 Katherine Meadowcroft, PhD topic: Pain and Introspection
2014 - 2016 Rashida Ahmed, PhD Topic: The Senses
2010 - 2014 Umut Baysan PhD Topic: Multiple Realizability
2008 - 2014 (part-time) Andrew MacGregor, PhD Topic: Relationalist Theories of Perception
2008 - 2013 Akiko Frischhut (Joint with the University of Geneva), PhD Topic: The Metaphysics of the Phenomenal Present
2006 - 2011 Stuart Crutchfield, PhD Topic: Phenomenal Unity
2008 - 2011 I was an "expert reader" for Alex Spaulding who is doing a practice-led PhD at the Glasgow School of Art. Her project is entitled, "Slipping Outside of Yourself: The Evaluation and Analysis of Aural Ineffable Immersive Contemporary Installation Art".
2008 - 2011 David Uings, MLitt by Research, Glasgow, Thesis: The Divided Mind
2008-2009 Sheena McAnulla, MLitt, Glasgow, Thesis: Panpsychism
2005-2007 Dimitris Platchias, Ph.D, Glasgow, Thesis: Phenomenal Consciousness, Experience and Higher-Order Thoughts
2006-2007 Akiko Frushhut, MLitt, Glasgow, Thesis: The Specious Present
2006-2007 Katherine Hook, MLitt, Glasgow, Thesis: Colour Inversion: A Problem for Externalist Representationalism?
2006-2007 Elisa Oddone, MLitt, Glasgow,Thesis: Representationalism and the Argument From Transparency
2006-2007 Gerd Watzenig, MLitt, Glasgow,Thesis: Time Travel Troubles
2006-2007 Niall Duncan, MLitt, Glasgow, Thesis: A Consideration of the Knowledge Argument
2001-2002 David Wall, MLitt, St. Andrews, Thesis: Representation, Information and Experience
These are the courses I regularly teach on:
Postgraduate Specialist MLitt Philosophy of Mind - Classes
Postgraduate MLitt 1 Course 0, Introduction to Analytic Philosophy - Classes
Postgraduate Specialist MLitt Research Methods Module - Classes
Senior Honours Philosophy of Perception - Lectures
Senior Honours Philosophy of Perception - Tutorials
Junior Honours Philosophy of Mind - Lectures and tutorials
Junior Honours Epistemology - Tutorials
2K Knowledge, Meaning and Inference - Tutorials
1K Knowledge and the World - Lectures
Professor Fiona Macpherson gained an MA from the University of Glasgow, an MLitt at the University of St Andrews, and a PhD from the University of Stirling. She was a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University, a teaching fellow at the University of St Andrews, and Rosamund Chambers Research Fellow at Girton College, Cambridge. While a faculty member at Glasgow, she has spent time as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Consciousness, RSSS, Australian National University, and as a Visiting Professor at Umea University, Sweden, the Institute of Philosophy, University of London, the University of Trnava, Slovakia, and at the University of Kentucky, USA.
She joined the Department of Philosophy at Glasgow in 2004 as a lecturer and Director of the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience (which she founded), and became Senior lecture in 2008, Professor of Philosophy in 2011. She was Head of Philosophy 2014 - 2017, and Deputy Head of the School of Humanities January - August 2017.
She was President of the Scots Philosophical Association (December 2015-2016), member of the Mind Association Executive Committee (2007 – 2014), and member of the Steering Committee of the European Society for Analytic Philosophy (2011 – 2014). She was a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council 2014-2018 and then re-elected 2018 - 2021, and a trustee of the Kennedy Memorial Trust 2014 - present. She became President of the British Philosophical Association in January 2019. She was honoured to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2017 and eleceted member of Academia Europaea 2018.
She is a vegan of over 25 years standing and a Partick Thistle Fan. According to her Who's Who profile, she enjoys blethering and getting stocious with friends.