Professor Fiona Macpherson
- Professor of Philosophy (Philosophy)
I am a philosopher of mind, perception, and psychology.
At Glasgow I am:
- Professor of Philosophy
- Director of the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience
- I sit on the following: University’s Research Planning and Strategy Committee, College of Arts REF Assessment Panel, Carnegie Lecture Series Committee
- Formerly, Head of Department (2014 - 2017)
- On a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, September 2021 - December 2023
Outwith Glasgow I am:
- President of the British Philosophical Association
- Member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council
- Member of the UKRI Creative Industries Advisory Group
- Member of the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships Panel College
- Trustee of the Kennedy Memorial Trust
- Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
- Member of Academia Europaea
- On the editorial board of The Philosophical Quarterly
- On the editorial board of Philosophy and the Mind Sciences (PhiMiSci)
- Member of the Board of Advisors of the International Association of Philosophy of Time
- Member of the Executive Committee, Centre for Perception, Rutgers University
Download my Curriculum Vitae.
- A project I'm a collaborator on, Dreamachine, opens to rave 5* reviews.
- Dreamachine Schools, a major UK wide programme, developed by A New Direction in partnership with the British Science Association and UNICEF UK, launches in May 2022. I am a key consultant on the programme. The section on Life's Big Questions opens 18th May 2022.
- I appeared as a guest on Radio 4's All in the Mind programme on 10th May 2022 talking about the Dreamachine project.
- I appear as a guest on the podcast 'Philosophy Takes On The News' Series 1, Episode 6, in March 2022 discussing duties to refugees, climate change, and beer in the metaverse and in May 2022 on Series 1, Episode 10, discussing Roe v. Wade, elections and voting, and living with covid.
- I am PI on a Royal Society of Edinburgh Network grant awarded November 2021 for a two-year project on Augmented Reality.
- Shortlisted, with Neil McDonnell, for edify (a VR by proxy system for teaching in higher education) developed with company Sublime in the Knowledge Exchange category of the Times Higher Education Awards.
- Won the 2021 Hidden REF Award in the communicative outputs category for the online Extreme Imagination Exhibition.
- I was awarded a Leverhulme Fellowship for my project, "A new theory of illusion and hallucination and its implications" starting September 2021, running until December 2023.
- The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Colour, jointly edited with Derek Brown, has been published by Routledge in 2021.
Research, Books & Online Papers
The material below is intended to provide preprints and offprints in electronic form, for purposes of education, research, scholarly communication, or critical commentary, all in conformity with "fair use" and the established practice of authors' providing single preprints and offprints for non-commercial use.
Brown, D. and Macpherson, F. (2021) (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Colour, Routledge.
Read the introductory essay 'Introduction to the Philosophy of Colour' by Derek H. Brown and Fiona Macpherson.
Read one of the essays in the book ‘Novel Colour Experiences and Their Implications’, by Fiona Macpherson.
Macpherson, F. (2018) (ed.) Sensory Substitution and Augmentation, Proceedings of the British Academy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Download the introductory essay, 'Sensory Substitution and Augmentation: An Introduction', by Fiona Macpherson
Review in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews by Mirko Farina
Macpherson, F. and Dorsch, F. (2018) (eds.) Perceptual Imagination and Perceptual Memory, Oxford University Press.
Download the introductory essay, 'Perceptual Imagination and Perceptual Memory: An Overview', by Fiona Macpherson
Dorsch, F. and Macpherson, F. (2018) (eds.) Phenomenal Presence, Oxford University Press.
Download the introductory essay, 'Phenomenal Presence: An Introduction to the Debate', by Fabian Dorsch
Macpherson, F. and Platchais, D. (2013) (eds.) Hallucination: Philosophy and Psychology, MIT Press.
Listen to a Philosophy Bites Podcast about Hallucination featuring Fiona Macpherson
Download the introductory essay "The Philosophy and Psychology of Hallucination: An Introduction" by Fiona Macpherson
"A vital addition to the literature on perception. Macpherson and Platchias have put together a lively, informative, and provocative collection of essays on hallucination. The scientific essays take us far beyond glib philosophical examples -- Lady Macbeth's dagger and so on. The philosophical sections relate to recent controversies: the much discussed doctrine of 'naive realism' and reflections on what hallucination teaches us about the nature of perceptual experience in general." -- Mohan Matthen, Canada Research Chair in Philosophy, University of Toronto
"Hallucination is the definitive collection on the philosophy and psychology of hallucination, offering a wide range of perspectives on this fascinating phenomenon. Macpherson provides a marvelous introduction, zeroing in with characteristic acuity on issues surrounding hallucination raised by experimental psychology, the metaphysics of perception, and epistemology." -- Susanna Siegel, Edgar Pierce Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University
Review in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews by Clare Batty
Review in Metapsychology by Sascha Benjamin Fink
German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel has an article on the volume
Macpherson, F. (2011) (ed.) The Senses: Classic and Contemporary Philosophical Perspectives, Oxford University Press.
Download the introductory essay "Individuating the Senses" by Macpherson.
Read the review of the book in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews by Peter W. Ross.
Read the review of the book in The Philosophical Quarterly by Louise Richardson.
The book was commented on by Mohan Matthen in the New APPS blog.
Macpherson, F. and Hawley, K. (2011) (eds.) The Admissible Contents of Experience,Wiley-Blackwell.
Download the introductory essay "The Admissible Contents of Experience" by Macpherson.
Also appearing (without the introductory essay) as a special edition of The Philosophical Quarterly, Volume 59, Issue 236, July 2009.
The whole book is available online at Oxford Scholarship Online.
Read the review of the book in Mind by Kieran Setiya.
Read the review of the book in the Times Literary Supplement by Tim Crane.
Read the review of the book in the European Journal of Philosophy by Fabian Dorsch.
Monzel M., Mitchell D., Macpherson F., Pearson J. and Zeman A. (Preprint April 2022) 'Proposal for a consistent definition of aphantasia and hyperphantasia: A response to Lambert and Sibley', Cortex, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2022.04.003
Monzel M., Mitchell D., Macpherson F., Pearson J. and Zeman A. (Preprint February 2022) 'Aphantasia, dysikonesia, anauralia: call for a single term for the lack of mental imagery – Commentary on Dance et al. (2021) and Hinwar and Lambert (2021)', Cortex, doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2022.02.002
Brown, D. and Macpherson, F. (2021) ‘Introduction to the Philosophy of Colour’, in D. Brown and F. Macpherson (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Colour, London: Routledge.
Macpherson, F. (2021) ‘Novel Colour Experiences and Their Implications’, in D. Brown and F. Macpherson (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Colour, London: Routledge.
Macpherson, F. (2018) 'What Is It Like to Have Visual Imagery?', in S. Aldworth and M. MacKisack (eds.) Extreme Imagination: Inside the Eye's Mind, London: University of Exeter.
Macpherson, F. (2018) ‘Sensory Substitution and Augmentation: An Introduction’ in F. Macpherson (ed.) Sensory Substitution and Augmentation, Proceedings of the British Academy Series, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Howes, D., Clarke, E., Macpherson, F., Best, B. and Cox, R. (2018) "Sensing Art and Artifacts: Explorations in Sensory Museology", The Senses and Society, 13 (3): 317-334. doi:10.1080/17458927.2018.1516024
Macpherson, F. (2018) 'Perceptual Imagination and Perceptual Memory: An Overview', in Dorsch, F. and Macpherson, F. (eds.) Perceptual Imagination and Perceptual Memory, Oxford University Press.
Wilson, K. and Macpherson, F. (2018) ‘The Senses’, in D. Pritchard (ed.) Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy, Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/OBO/9780195396577-0368.
Winlove, C., Milton, F., Ranson, J., Fulford, J., MacKisack, M., Macpherson, F. and Zeman, A. (2018), “The neural correlates of visual imagery: a co-ordinate-based meta-analysis”, Cortex, 105: 4-25, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2017.12.014.
Macpherson, F. (2017) "The Relationship Between Cognitive Penetration and Predictive Coding", Consciousness and Cognition, 47: 6 - 16.
Macpherson, F. and Batty, C. (2016) "Redefining Illusion and Hallucination in Light of New Cases", Philosophical Issues, 26: 263 - 296.
MacKisack, M., Aldworth, S., Macpherson, F., Onians, J., Winlove, C., and Zeman, A. (2016) "On picturing a candle: the prehistory of imagery science", Frontiers in Psychology, 7: 00515.
Macpherson, F (2015) "The Structure of Experience, the Nature of the Visual, and Type 2 Blindsight", Consciousness and Cognition, 32:104 - 128.
Macpherson, F. (2015) "Cognitive Penetration and Nonconceptual Content", in J. Zeimbekis and A. Raftopoulos (eds.) The Cognitive Penetrability of Perception: New Philosophical Perspectives, Oxford University Press.
Macpherson, F. (2015) "Cognitive Penetration and Predictive Coding: A Commentary on Lupyan", Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 6(4): 571-584.
Macpherson, F. (2014) "Is the Sense-Data Theory a Representationalist Theory?", Ratio, 27(4): 369-392. Also to be published in J. Stazicker (2015) (ed.) The Structure of Perceptual Experience, Wiley.
Macpherson, F. (2014) "The Space of Sensory Modalities", in Perception and Its Modalities, D. Stokes, S. Biggs and M. Matthen (eds.), Oxford University Press.
Macpherson, F. (2013) "The Philosophy and Psychology of Hallucination: An Introduction", in Hallucination: Philosophy and Psychology, edited by F. Macpherson and D. Platchais, Cambridge MA: MIT Press.
Macpherson, F. (2012) "Cognitive Penetration of Colour Experience: Rethinking the Issue in Light of an Indirect Mechanism", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 84(1): 24-62.
Macpherson, F. (2011) "Cross-Modal Experiences", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 111(3): 429-468.
Macpherson, F. (2011) "Individuating the Senses", in her (ed.) The Senses: Classical and Contemporary Readings, Oxford University Press.
Macpherson, F. (2011) "The Admissible Contents of Experience", in K. Hawley and F. Macpherson (eds.) The Admissible Contents of Experience, Wiley-Blackwell.
Macpherson, F. (2011) "Taxonomising the Senses", Philosophical Studies, 153(1): 123-142.
Macpherson F. (2010) "A Disjunctive Theory of Introspection: A Reflection on Zombies and Anton's Syndrome", Philosophical Issues, 20(1): 226-265. Reprinted in Manidipa Sen (ed.) Self-Knowledge and Agency, New Delhi: Decent Books, 2012: 39-98.
Macpherson, F. (2010) "Impossible Figures", in E. B. Goldstein (ed.) the SAGE Encyclopedia of Perception, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Macpherson, F. (2009) "Perception, Philosophical Perspectives", in The Oxford Companion to Consciousness,T. Bayne, A. Cleeremans and P. Wilken (eds), Oxford University Press.
Haddock, A. and Macpherson, F. (2008) "Introduction: Varieties of Disjunctivism" in our Disjunctivism: Perception, Action Knowledge, Oxford University Press.
Macpherson, F. (2007) "Synaesthesia, Functionalism and Phenomenology", in Cartographies of the Mind: Philosophy and Psychology in Intersection , Series: Studies in Brain and Mind, Vol. 4, Mario de Caro, Francesco Ferretti and Massimo Marraffa (eds.), Dordrecht: Kleuwer, pp. 65-80.
Macpherson, F. (2006) "Ambiguous Figures and the Content of Experience", Noûs, 40(1): 82-117.
Macpherson, F. (2006) "Property Dualism and the Merits of Solutions to the Mind-Body Problem: A Reply to Strawson", Journal of Consciousness Studies, 13(10-11): 72-89.
Macpherson, F. (2005) "Colour Inversion Problems for Representationalism", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 70(1): 127-152.
Macpherson, F. (2003) "Novel Colours and the Content of Experience", Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 84(1): 43-66. (Novel colours, such as reddish-green and bluish-yellow, are also somtimes called "alien colours", "forbidden colours" or "impossible colours".)
Macpherson, F. (2002) "The Power of Natural Selection", Journal of Consciousness Studies, 9(8): 30-35.
Macpherson, F. (1999) "Perfect Pitch and the Implicit/Explicit Distinction", Anthropology and Philosophy,(Philosophical Approaches to Consciousness, Monograph Issue, edited by Mariano Bianca and Luca Malatesti), 3(2): 89-101.
Bermudez, J. L. and Macpherson, F. (1999) "Nonconceptual Content and the Nature of Perceptual Experience", The Electronic Journal of Analytic Philosophy, Issue 6, (http://ejap.louisiana.edu/EJAP/1998/contents.html).
Macpherson, F. (2004) review of A. D. Smith The Problem of Perception, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002) in Philosophical Books, Vol. 45, No. 3, pp. 256-257.
Macpherson, F. (2003) review of M. Tye Consciousness, Color and Content, (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 2000) in Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 53, No. 213, pp. 619-621.
Macpherson, F. (1999) review of P. Jacob What Minds Can Do: Intentionality in a Non-Intentional World in Philosophical Books, Vol. 40, No.3, pp. 184-185.
Macpherson, F (2000) Representational Theories of Phenomenal Character, University of Stirling, supervised by Alan Millar and José Luis Bermúdez.
Public Engagement & Knowledge Exchange
The Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience has a website that I set up and run that from 2004 - 2017 includes The Illusions Index, a fully searchable interactive curated collection of illusions aimed at the public . This was funded by £9,000 incentivisation funds, £5,000 from the School of Humanities and College of Arts, and £2,000 from the Knowledge exchange fund at the University of Glasgow. In August 2020 we launched the 'Master of Illusion' Quiz, completion of which earns you a 'Master of Illusion' certificate from the Universisty of Glasgow.
In May 202 we also lunched our online art exhibition Extreme Imagination: Inside the Mind’s Eye – the digital counterpart of twin exhibitions hosted by Tramway, Glasgow, and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, in 2019. Those exhibitions were organised by the Eye's Mind research project team and curated by Susan Aldworth and Matthew MacKisack. This online version was conceived and created by Fiona Macpherson and Joanna Helfer.
The Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience has a lively FaceBook page that I set up in November 2008 and now run detailing our activities and research news from around the world on perception. The page has received over 2,500 “likes” and some weeks our “total reach” is over 12,000 people. The Centre's Twitter account @UofGCSPE was started in 2014 and has over 1,400 followers. My own Twitter account, @ProfMacpherson, has over 4,000 followers.
23 Nov 2020 Explorathon: Online presentation of illusions, focusing on ambiguities in visual and auditory perception, and discussion with the public
18 Nov 2020 Perceptual Illusion Café: Online presentation of illusions, focusing on after effects such a colour afterimages and the motion aftereffect, and discussion with the public
May 2020 Online verson of the Extreme Imagination Art Exhibition launched
27 – 28 Sept 2019 Research Stall showcasing perceptual effects at Explorathon, Riverside Museum, Glasgow
8 – 9 June 2019 Research Stall showcasing perceptual effects at the Glasgow Science Festival, Riverside Museum, Glasgow
5 – 7 April 2019 Co-organiser of the Extreme Imagination Conference, University of Exeter aimed at those with aphantasia and hyperphantasia.
Jan – June 2019 Co-organiser of art exhibition ‘Extreme Imagination: Inside the Mind’s Eye’ shown at the Tramway, Glasgow (Jan – March) and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter (march – June). The exhibition included six exhibits by myself illustrating strange perceptual phenomena that are in some way like visual imagination. Funding awarded for this activity is detailed in the previous section.
12 January 2019 Co-organised and took part in a workshop for the public about the ‘Extreme Imagination’ exhibition and about aphantasia and hyperphantasia, at the Tramway, Glasgow. (60 attendees)
18 – 20 Jan 2019 Co-organised and co-ran virtual reality demonstrations and workshops to inform people about it and instruct them how to prepare a brief to give to a virtual reality developer at the British Council in Hong Kong Spark Festival of Ideas
15 – 16 June 2018 Organised stall demonstrating perceptual effects and virtual reality at the St Enoch Centre at the Glasgow Science Festival
28 – 29 April 2018 Organised stall demonstrating the Illusions Index and illusions at the University of Glasgow Teaching Conference on Visualisation
29 Sept 2017 Co-organised research stall at Explorathon at the Riverside Museum in Glasgow.
18 June 2017 Co-organised a research stall at Glasgow Science Festival, Kelvin Gallery, University of Glasgow.
6 - 11 June 2017 Co-organised a research stall at the Cheltenham Science Festival.
5 May 2017 Co-organised a research stall at a Glasgow Science Centre Lates Event, Glasgow Science Centre.
29 April 2017 Co-organised a research stall at the Question of Perception Celebration Event, Glasgow Science Centre.
30 September 2016 Organised the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience’s contribution to Explorathon 2018, consisting of a research stall at the Explorathon Extravaganza in the Glasgow Science Centre.
7 July 2016 Co-organised a lecture and poetry reading by Dr Nuala Watt at the University of Glasgow for the public as part of the Understanding the Senses: Past and Present project.
6 July 2016 Co-organised an event in Special Collections in the University of Glasgow Library for the public as part of the Understanding the Senses: Past and Present project. It consisted of a room displaying visual, audio and cross-modal illusions, illustrating the work of the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience and a display of some of the library’s collection of manuscripts and early printed books relating to the history of the senses.
17 June 2016 Co-organised the “Beer: History, Philosophy, Science" workshop and tasting that was open to the public.
11 – 12 June 2016 Organised the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience’s contribution to the Glasgow Science Festival, consisting of a research stall in the Kelvingrove Museum for two days. We presented a large number of visual, auditory, and, taste illusions and effects. The stalls were manned by myself and other members of the CSPE. Members of the CSPE also gave talks as part of the festival: Myself and David Simmons on the Philosophy and Psychology of Colour (over 150 registered participants), and David Bain on Pains that are Not Unpleasant (over 100 registered participants).
28 September – 29 November 2015 Organised the ‘Impossible Lego Object’ exhibit, one item in the Objects of Research exhibition at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow
25 September 2015 - Centre for the Study of Perception research stall at Explorathon '15, European Researchers' Night.
6 & 7 June 2015 - Centre for the Study of Perception research stall at the Glasgow Science Festival at Kelvingrove
November 2014 - Helped to run “The Hidden Senses: the secrets of taste and smell” a day of talks, activities, experiments, demonstrations, and exhibitions for the public to challenge their understanding of the senses of taste and smell, involving philosophers, psychologists, perfumiers, neurosciencest,s artists, chefs, and technologists at the Dana Centre, Scoence Museum, London. The event showcased the work of the Rethinking the Senses project and was part of the national AHRC Being Human Festival of the Humanities.
September 2014 - I supervised Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience Postdocs Keith Wilson and Jennifer Corns in showcasing the CSPE’s research at the ‘Explorathon’ European researchers night at the Glasgow Science Centre.
June 2014 - Took part in “Moving Water”, an art participation project by Sensory Sites and collaborators at the October Gallery, London.
December 2013 - Attended and led discussion at the workshop, “Data, Dada, Data: the Next Big Confluence of Art, Science and Technology” organised by UCLIC, UCL, held at Cumberland Lodge, London. The event involved engineers, computer scientists, philosophers, psychologists, and architects and sought to address the challenges and opportunities of the new data revolution for Art, Science and Technology.
November 2012 - Took part in and was discussion leader for a workshop on ‘Creative Dining, Cooking and Technology’, organised by UCLIC, UCL, held at John Salt Restaurant, Islington, involving chefs, designers, a film maker, psychologists, philosophers and technologists. I also wrote an essay “The Future of Dining Practices” for the website of the project.
March 2012 - I organised a public exhibition of all the sensory substation and augmentation devices discussed at the academic conference on one afternoon and evening in the British Academy. This was the first time ever that all these devices were at the same location at the same time. A video was made of the event, which I present. It can be viewed online together with the presentations from the conference.
October 2011 - 'Sensory Substitution: Challenges for Philosophy and Science’, invited paper and practical demonstration of tactile-vision sensory substituion, jointly presented with Jon Bird (UCL), Undergraduate Philosophy Society, Umeå University, Sweden
May 2011 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Lecture, University of Glasgow. I organised the public lecture given by Professor Barry Smith (Philosophy, London) and Professor Charles Spence (Psychology, Oxford) entitled “On the Blind Versus Sighted Tasting of Wine” and the tutored wine-tasting, sponsored by Quel Vin vintners, that followed.
My work in, or cited in, the media:
Interviewed as expert on aphantasia and hyperphantasia for Canadian podcast ‘Imagine that’, June 2021.
Interviewed as expert on hallucination for the documentary, “The Islanders Who Saw Visions”, January 2021. Film released on BBC Reel on 17 May 2021 https://www.bbc.com/reel/video/p09hgdgk/how-alicudi-s-islanders-experienced-mass-hallucinations
Appeared on ABC Illawarra Radio interviewed by Lindsay McDougall for DriveTime about virtual reality and the Mobius Project on 11 July 2019.
Appeared on the BBC World Service ‘Newshour’ programme being interviewed about my work on aphantasia and the Eye’s Mind’s conference on Extremes of Imagination on 6 April 2019.
Interviewed by Tom Metcalfe on augmented reality for NBC Mach, on 7 December 2017.
Interviewed by Harry Pettit for an article entitled, “Can you HEAR this silent GIF? Mind-bending audio illusion tricks your brain into thinking you hear a sound while watching a noiseless animation“, for the Mail Online, published 4 December 2017. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5143355/Silent-animation-hear-baffles-internet-users.html
Interviewed by Nicola Twilley for an article on "Seeing with Your Tongue", for The New Yorker, published 15 May 2017.
Interviewed by Jeff Gailus for piece entitled "We Should Count Balance As One of the Senses" for Nautilus science magazine, published on 3 March 2017.
Interviewed by Timandra Harkeness for a Blakeway Production programme for Radio 4 on sensory substitution and augmentation, to be broadcast in 2017.
Interviewed by Emma Shephard for Spring 2016 PhilonoUS, the University of Sheffield Undergraduate Journal of Philosophy.
Interviewed for a BBC Radio 4 programme ‘An Image of Sound’ for broadcast on 7 February 2015.
"crop from a newsletter with Fiona Macpherson's headshot and title. Fiona Macpherson: Making Small Grants Count", Research Professional, 15 January 2015.
Co-host of CBC's "Spark" programme about "Rewiring our Senses" (Programme No. 268) first broadcast December 7, 2014
Presented a video about the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience's demo event and my talk and slide show from the Conference on Sensory Substitution and Augmentation, 26 - 28 March 2013.
My piece "The Future of Dining Practices" on the Food for Thought: Thought for Food website, which in part records the Creative Dining, Cooking and Technology Workshop, held at the John Salt Restaurant in Islington, November 2012.
Interviewed about my work on perception and the senses in "A Shift in Perception", University of Toronto Magazine, by Cynthia Macdonald.
My work is discussed in "Minds on Monday: Sense and Un-sense in the Animal Kingdom", New Apps Blog, by Mohan Matthen.
Interviewed for "Philosophy gender war sparked by call for larger role for women", National Post Newspaper, by Kathryn Blaze Carlson.
Public and Knowledge Exchange Lectures:
September 2021 ‘What is Synaesthesia?’, invited talk to cast and crew of the play “When Blue was Green”, in partnerships with Beacon Arts Centre and Dundee Rep, funded by Creative Scotland.
May 2019 ‘Notes on Blindness’, talk and participation on panel discussion after VR and cinema screening of the film by the same name at the event, Making Sense: Exploring Altered Perception Through ‘Notes on Blindness’.
April 2019 ‘What Is It Like to Have Visual Imagery?’, keynote talk at the Extremes of Imagination Conference, for people with aphantasia and hyperphantasia, Eye;s Mind Project, University of Exeter
January 2019 Does Virtual Reality Consist in Veridical, Illusory or Hallucinatory Experience?’, Royal Institute of Philosophy lecture, Philosophy Department, University of Cardiff
April 2018 ‘Does Virtual Reality Consist in Veridical, Illusory or Hallucinatory Experience?’, invited talk, Stapledon Colloquium, University of Liverpool
June 2016 ‘The Philosophy and Psychology of Colour’ public lecture at the Glasgow Science Festival.
November 2015 'Illusion and Perception', public lecture in the Lunchtime Masterclass Series, at the Centre for Open Studies, University of Glasgow
November 2015 'Illusion and Perception', keynote lecture at the Hutchesons' Annual Approaching Philosophy Conference for school children
June 2015 'Vision, Perception and Illusion', public lecture at the Glasgow Science Festival on on the 8th of June
March 2015 'The Waterfall Illusion', public lecture at the Glagsow Science Cafe, Research Club, Ashton Lane, Glasgow
December 2014 ‘Philosophy of Hallucination and Perception, talk to Eye Surgeons at King’s College Hospital, London
October 2014 ‘Philosophy of Hallucination and Perception’, public lecture with over 100 registered participants, lunchtime master class series, Centre for Open Studies, University of Glasgow
June 2014 ‘Philosophical Views of Hallucination and Perception’, public lecture at the Out of Our Heads art exhibition on hallucination at Shoreditch Town Hall, London
May 2014 ‘Individuating the Senses’, keynote speaker, The Human Senses: Inspire Gatherings, School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent
April 2014 Speaker at Conversations in Mind/Brain/Behaviour, interfaculty event, Harvard University, debating with Professor Robert Stickgold (Harvard)
July 2013 ‘How Many Colours Are in the Rainbow? Lessons from the Variability of Perception‘, Public Lecture, University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia
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.
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, and Professor of Philosophy in 2011. She was Head of Philosophy 2014 - 2017, and Deputy Head of the School of Humanities January - August 2017.
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; the University of Kentucky, USA; and at the Institut Jean Nicod (funded by the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS)). She received a two-year Leverhulme Research Fellowship in September 2021.
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 became President of the British Philosophical Association in January 2019.
She was a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council 2014-2018 and then re-elected 2018 - 2021, and again 2021 - 2023. In addition, she became a Member of the UKRI Creative Industries Advisory Group in 2019 and a Member of the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships Panel College in 2018.
She is a trustee of the Kennedy Memorial Trust 2014 - present.
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.
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: hallucination and illusion, virtual and augmented reality, extremes of imagination (aphantasia and hyperphantasia), cognitive penetration, the structure of experience, the nature and individuation of the senses, cross-modal intersensory phenomena, sensory substitution and augmentation, delusion, novel colours, inverted spectra, ambiguous and impossible figures, synaesthesia, the admissible contents of experience, disjunctivism and representational theories of phenomenal character.
Received £20,000 from the Royal Society of Edinburgh for a Network Grant for the project: Augmented Reality: Ethics, Perception, Metaphysics from November 2021 – November 2023. I am the PI, and Ben Colburn, Neil McDonnell and Derek Brown, colleagues at Glasgow, are the Co-Is.
Awarded £59,935 Leverhulme Fellowship for Project, “A New Theory of Illusion and Hallucination and Its Implications”, to run from September 2021 – December 2023.
I am a member of The Assemble+ Collective (now Collective Act) awarded approximately £8 million pounds for the Dreamachine Project - part of the Unboxed Festival in 2022.
I am a member of the "Assemble" team awarded £100,000 to participate in the Festival UK 2022 R&D Project between November 2020 and February 2021.
Awarded £4,163.46 from the University of Glasgow Knowledge Exchange Fund to put the Extreme Imagination Exhibition online.
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 and take on postdocs 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
- Alcaraz Sanchez, Adriana
Awake in Deep Sleep: The case of lucid dreamless sleep
- Annan, Heather
Synaesthesia in autism populations
- Reid, Findlay
Are Agents Morally Assessible for Dreams or Dream-Acts?
Previous Graduate Students:
- 2019 - 2021 Steven Broadrick, PhD Topic: What can the predictive brain hypothesis tell us about colour perception?
- 2018 - 2019 Adriana Alcaraz Sanchez, MPhil Topic: Conscious States During Dreamless Sleep: A Philosophical and Psychological Account
- 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
Visiting Graduate Students:
- October 2020 - present Fabien Dezeque (Oxford Brookes)
- October 2019 – January 2020 Lidoly Chavez Guerra (University of McGill)
- November 2019 – January 2020 Ines Hipolito (University of Wollongong)
- February - March 2019 Veronica Valle (University of Macau)
- January – May 2017 Andrea Togni (University of Turin)
- 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)
- September 2017 – Sept 2022 Dr Neil McDonnell on a University of Glasgow Lord Kelvin/Adam Smith Research Fellowship to work on virtual and augmented reality.
- June – August 2017 Dr Keith Wilson funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation via the University of Cambridge on the Synchronising the Senses Project
- January – June 2017 Dr Neil McDonnell funded by a grant from the University of Glasgow Knowledge Exchange Fund and the John Templeton Foundation via the University of Cambridge on the Virtual and Augmented Reality Project
- July 2016 – September 2017 Dr Umut Baysan funded by the John Templeton Foundation via the University of Cambridge on the Sense-Data: Phenomenology and Metaphysics Project
- May 2014 – June 2017 Dr Keith Wilson funded by the AHRC on the ReThinking the Senses Project
- October 214 – October 2015 Dr Neil McDonnell funded by the John Templeton Foundation via the University of Durham on the Glasgow Emergence Project
- October 214 – October 2015 Dr Umut Baysan funded by the John Templeton Foundation via the University of Durham on the Glasgow Emergence Project
These are the courses I regularly teach on:
- Postgraduate MSc: Philosophy of Mind
- Postgraduate MSc: Research Methods Module
- Postgraduate Conversion MSc: Introduction to Analytic Philosophy
- Senior Honous: Philosophy of Psychology
- Senior Honours: Philosophy of Perception
- Junior Honours: Philosophy of Mind
- 2A: What Am I?