Staff research expertise

Staff research expertise


Key staff

Virtue epistemology

Christoph Kelp’s research in virtue epistemological has focused mainly on virtue epistemological accounts of knowledge and justified belief. Virtue epistemology offers accounts of knowledge and justified belief in terms of cognitive abilities. The key idea is that belief is a kind of performance and can thus evaluated as successful, competent and apt. It is traditionally assumed that a belief is taken to be successful just if true. The main focus of the literature consists in developing accounts of competent and apt belief. Kelp has explored the prospects of traditional versions of virtue epistemology in a number of papers. His main contribution to the debate, however, has been to develop in some detail a version of VE that radically breaks with the traditional view that a belief is successful just if true and instead proposes that a belief is successful just if it is knowledge. He was principal investigator on a major research project (2013-17) on the topic and has published extensively on the issue and currently has a book on knowledge first virtue epistemology under submission.

J. Adam Carter’s research in virtue epistemology has focused on a range of themes including

  1. the relationship between intellectual virtue and luck in the analysis of knowledge
  2. the nature and value of insightfulness
  3. the relationship between open-mindedness and truth
  4. the normative structure of cognitive achievements
  5. the situationist critique of virtue epistemology 
  6. the role of virtue and ability in the philosophy of knowledge-how 
  7. virtue epistemology and the value of knowledge
  8. intellectual virtues and cognitive enhancement. 

He is currently working on a book manuscript on intellectual autonomy and how this virtue is to be understood in relation with various kinds of epistemic dependence.

Michael Brady is interested in the role that emotion plays in intellectual virtue, and in the differences between moral and intellectual virtue, and has chapters forthcoming on both topics.

The nature of understanding

Christoph Kelp has defended a novel account of understanding. Extant literature on the topic features two main camps. Explanationists claim that understading is knowledge of explanations, manipulationists hold that understanding consists in the ability to manipulate representations. According to Kelp, both views are mistaken. He takes the observation that an omniscient agent is also an omni-understanding agent motivates the thesis that maximal knowledge is maximal understanding. Lesser degrees of understanding are explained in terms of approximations to maximal knowledge. He is currently working on a book on inquiry based epistemology one key part of which develops this account of understanding in more detail.

In the epistemology of understanding, J. Adam Carter has written about both (i) understanding-why (as when, for instance, one knows an explanation) as well as on (ii) objectual understanding (i.e., as when one understands a subject matter or body of information). More recently, Carter has explored the relationship between understanding (of both varieties) and knowledge-how, epistemic luck, relativism and defeasibility.

A central aspect of Michael Brady’s book Emotional Insight was the role that emotion plays in providing us with evaluative understanding – of ourselves, and of aspects of our environment.

Extended epistemology

Christoph Kelp is interested especially in the relation between virtue epistemology and extended epistemology. One prominent line of attack against virtue epistemology is that the view is not compatible with the extended cognition hypothesis in the philosophy of mind. Kelp has defended virtue epistemology against this charge in a number of published papers.

J. Adam Carter has published extensively on topics at the intersection of mainstream epistemology and various kinds of active externalism in the philosophy of mind, including the hypothesis of extended cognition as well as collective and distributed cognition. Some particular themes of focus in Carter’s work have been: 

  1. the relationship between extended cognition and epistemic luck
  2. extended cognition and propositional memory
  3. mechanisms of defeat for collective knowledge
  4. the compatibility between active externalism (i.e., the extended mind thesis) and epistemic internalism
  5. extended knowledge-how. 

More recently, Carter has been working on projects at the intersection of extended epistemology and bioethics, especially concerning enhancement.

Epistemology of perception

Michael Brady works on the epistemic role of emotional experience in justifying ethical beliefs and has recently published a highly regarded monograph on this subject.

Robert Cowan is interested in the possibility of ethical perception and in the question of whether perceptual experiences can provide non-inferential justification for ethical beliefs. More generally, he is interested in the question of how the cognitive penetrability of perceptual experience might complicate perceptual epistemology. He has recently published a paper assessing competing accounts of non-inferential justification and is currently working on the perceptual theory of the emotions.

Christoph Kelp is interested in the prospects of broadly externalist approaches to the epistemology of perception, including disjunctivist and reliabilist views. He has defended a distinctively knowledge first virtue epistemological approach in writing.

Fiona Macpherson has worked on a number of topics central to the epistemology of perception and introspection, including the cognitive penetration of perception, the nature of hallucination, the contents of perceptual experiences and the viability of disjunctivist theories of perception and introspection.

Semantics of knowledge attributions

J. Adam Carter has written several papers as well as a monograph which critically engage with truth-relativism as an approach to the semantics of knowledge attributions; relativist treatments of knowledge attributions (i.e., ascriptions of the form ‘S knows that p’) have gained traction in recent years as a competitor to contextualism, traditional invariantism and sensitive invariantism. Carter’s position has been to argue that a relativist semantics for “knows” carries with it various kinds of costly commitments in epistemology.

Christoph Kelp has worked on a range of issues relating to the semantics of knowledge attributions, including whether contextualist cases (e.g. bank cases) support contextualism and the prospects of a contrastivist semantics for knowledge attributions.

PhD students in epistemology

Some current and recent PhD topics in epistemology include Alvin Plantinga’s epistemological framework, problems of foreknowledge, epistemic injustice and predestination and the epistemology of ethical beliefs.

Key publications

Michael Brady

  • ‘Moral and Intellectual Virtues’, Oxford Handbook of Virtue, ed. Nancy Snow (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018)
  • ‘The role of emotion in intellectual virtue’, Routledge Handbook of Virtue Epistemology, ed. Heather Battaly (London: Routledge, 2018)
  • Emotional Insight: The Epistemic Role of Emotional Experience (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)
  • ‘Emotions, perceptions and reasons’ in Bagnoli, C. Morality and the Emotions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)

J. Adam Carter

  • Metaepistemology and Relativism (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)
  • ‘Knowledge-How and Epistemic Luck’ (with Duncan Pritchard), Noûs 49 (3): 440-453, 2015.
  • ‘Extended Cognition and Epistemic Luck’ Synthese 190 (18): 4201-4214, 2013.
  • ‘Group Knowledge and Epistemic Defeat’ Ergo 2 (28): 711-735, 2015.
  • ‘Virtuous Insightfulness’ Episteme, 14(4) 539-554, 2017.
  • ‘The Defeasibility of Knowledge-How’ (with Jesûs Navarro) Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, forthcoming. 
  • ‘Meta-Epistemic Defeat’, Synthese, forthcoming.

Robert Cowan

  • 'Cognitive penetrability and ethical perception' Review of Philosophy and Psychology, forthcoming
  • 'Perceptual intuitionism' Philosophy and Phenomenological Research v90(1), pp164-193, 2015
  • 'Clarifying ethical intuitionism' European Journal of Philosophy, v22(3), 2013

Christoph Kelp

  • ‘Inquiry and the Transmission of Knowledge.’ Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, forthcoming. (Winner of the 2017 Young Epistemologist Prize)
  • ‘How to Be a Reliabilist.’ Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, forthcoming.
  • ‘Assertion: A Function First Account.’ Noûs, forthcoming.
  • ‘Criticism and Blame in Action and Assertion.’ (with M. Simion). Journal of Philosophy 114, 76-93, 2017.
  • ‘Knowledge First Virtue Epistemology.’ Carter, A., Gordon, E. and Jarvis, B. eds. Knowledge First: Approaches in Epistemology and Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.
  • ‘Justified Belief: Knowledge First-Style.’ Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93, 79-100, 2016.
  • ‘Understanding Phenomena.’ Synthese 192, 3799-3816, 2015

Fiona Macpherson

  • ‘The philosophy and psychology of hallucination: An introduction’ in Macpherson, F. and Platchias, D. Hallucination: Philosophy and Psychology (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013)
  • ‘Cognitive penetration of colour experience: Rethinking the issue in light of an indirect mechanism’ Philosophy and Phenomenological Research v84(1), 2012, pp24-62
  • ‘A disjunctive theory of introspection’ Philosophical Issues v20(1), 2010, pp226-265

History of Philosophy

Key staff: Gary Kemp, Chris Lindsay, Fraser MacBride, Alan Weir

We have particular strengths in the history of twentieth century philosophy, especially the early period of the development of analytic philosophy and the subsequent role of Quine and Davidson, and the Scottish enlightenment.

(1) Early Analytic Philosophy

Gottlob Frege: We have several shared interests in Gottlob Frege's philosophy of logic and language and his associated philosophy of mathematics. Gary Kemp has worked on Frege's views concerning the requirement that predicates be sharp, whilst Fraser MacBride has explored issues arising from Frege's views about predication and the unity of the proposition, and has proposed a new solution to the concept horse paradox. Kemp has also worked on Frege's doctrine of sense and Frege's treatment of propositional attitudes, Frege's (apparently) deflationary conception of truth and Frege's estimate of the role and status of logic, including the question of whether logic can function as a 'Universal Science'  Both Kemp and MacBride have explored issues related to the Julius Caesar problem whilst Alan Weir and MacBride have interests in Frege's version of logicism and its relevance to contemporary philosophy of mathematics, including, of course, neo-logicism.

Bertrand Russell: MacBride has worked extensively on Russell's metaphysics, especially his views on universals in general and relations in particular. He has also worked on Russell's relationship with Kant, Leibniz, Bradley, and his controversy with Wittgenstein concerning the nature of judgment. MacBride has an especial interest in Russell’s very early manuscripts (prior to 1901). MacBride is also interested in Russell’s theory of descriptions, especially its epistemological aspects, and has written on Russell’s treatment of logical constants and logical forms.  Kemp works on the relationship between Russell and Frege’s conception of reasoning and understanding of the status of logic. Weir and MacBride have interests in Russell’s logicism and theory of types and their relevance for contemporary philosophy of mathematics.

Ludwig Wittgenstein: MacBride works on Wittgenstein’s early philosophy (“Notes on Logic”, Notebooks 1914-16 and the Tractatus), especially Wittgenstein’s picture theory and its associated ontology, and the relationship between Wittgenstein and Ramsey on facts and universals. Weir also has an interest in Wittgenstein’s early philosophy of logic, the ‘Meinongian’ and ‘actualist’ interpretations of the Tractatus and the ‘traditional versus resolute’ debate. Kemp has published on the later Wittgenstein’s thinking (including the Investigations and On Certainty) about the unity of the proposition and has a long-term interest in understanding the relationship between Frege and Wittgenstein’s understanding of the context principle, and the relationship between Wittgenstein and Quine.

G.E. Moore, F.P. Ramsey, A.N. Whitehead, G.F. Stout, J.M.E. McTaggart, W.E. Johnson, S. Alexander, etc.: MacBride has devoted half of a forthcoming monograph to Moore's neglected views on metaphysics and their interrelationship with his more celebrated views on perception and epistemology, especially with regard to Moore’s Fellowship dissertations and his engagement with Kant and Plato. He is known as an expositor and exponent of Ramsey’s view that there is no particular-universal distinction. More recently he devoted himself to reviving an understanding and interest in other neglected figures of the analytic tradition, including Stout (on tropes) and Whitehead (on events), authors whose work can only be understand against the backdrop of their epistemology. He has future plans to write on Caird, McTaggart, Johnson and Alexander.

(2) Quine and Davidson

Kemp and Weir have both written extensively on the philosophy of Quine, with an especial focus upon the nature of Quine’s naturalism and his understanding of holism. Kemp has written a book-length treatment of the dispute between Quine and Davidson on the philosophy of language, as well as an introductory book on Quine’s philosophy. This includes an account of the role of behaviourism in Quine’s philosophy of language and an understanding of the indeterminacy of translation and the inscrutability, as well as the relation between these two doctrines. Kemp also concentrates on Quine's disputes with Davidson over: the 'third dogma', truth as immanent vs. truth as transcendental, the reality of reference. Weir has concentrated on Quine’s methodology and his philosophy of language

Weir has a long-term engagement with Quine’s philosophy of mathematics. Kemp and MacBride are also interested in the relationship of Quine’s philosophy with Carnap, Wittgenstein and Tarski, whilst MacBride has written about Quine’s nominalism and his animadversions on modality and the relationship between Quine and David Lewis.

Kemp and MacBride also have interests in Davidson's critique of the scheme/content dualism. Davidson’s theory of predication and the role that truth theories can perform in helping us understand the unity of the proposition (sentence, statement, utterance etc.)

(3) Scottish Enlightenment

Chris Lindsay’s main research interests lie in Thomas Reid’s epistemology and philosophy of mind, in particular his agent causal theory of action and his critique of Hume. Reid and Hume share a commitment to broadly Newtonian methodology; Lindsay has written on the extent to which this is consistent with the diametrically opposed accounts of human liberty they endorse (libertarian and compatibilist, respectively). Most recently he has sought to defend Reid against the charge that his account of sensations as lacking spatial content cannot adequately account for the rich information about the body and the environment that they serve to convey.


Recent Publications:

Gary Kemp

*Quine versus Davidson*, OUP, 2012

 ‘Pushing Wittgenstein and Quine Closer Together’,  Journal of the History of Analytical Philosophy Vol. 2, No. 10, 2014.

 ‘Quine’s Criticism of Semantics’, in Philosophy of Language and Linguistics: The Legacy of Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein, ed. by Piotr Stalmaszczyk. Ontos Verlag 2014.

Chris Lindsay

'Reid on instinctive exertions and the spatial contents of sensations' in R. Copenhaver, R and T. Buras (eds.) Thomas Reid on Mind, Knowledge, and Value (OUP/Mind association occasional series, 2015). pp. 35-51.

'Hume and Reid on Newtonianism, naturalism and liberty' in I. Kasavin,(ed.) David Hume and Contemporary Philosophy (CSP, 2013). pp. 191-208

Fraser MacBride

“The Transcendental Metaphysic of G.F. Stout: His Defence and Articulation of Trope Theory” in A. Reboul (ed.) Mind, Value and Metaphysics: Papers Dedicated to Kevin Mulligan (Springer, 2014), pp. 141-58.

“The Russell-Wittgenstein Dispute: A New Perspective” in M. Textor (ed.) Judgement and Truth in Early Analytic Philosophy and Phenomenology (Palgrave, 2013), pp. 206-41

 “The Cambridge Revolt Against Idealism: Was There Ever an Eden?”, Metaphilosophy, 43, 2012, pp. 135-46.

Alan Weir

‘Quine on Indeterminacy’ in Ernest Lepore and Barry C. Smith (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language, OUP 2006.

A. Weir, ‘Quine’s Naturalism’ In Harman, G. and Lepore, E. (eds.) The Blackwell Companion to Quine. Wiley-Blackwel 2014.

Logic, Language and Mathematics

Key staff: Gary Kemp, Fraser Macbride, Adam Rieger

 We have a broad range of expertise and strengths in the philosophies of logic, language and mathematics.

Logic and Language

Adam Rieger has worked and published upon conditionals, where he has published a series of papers defending the truth-functional account of indicatives, and discussing non-classical logic, especially sub-structural logic, the liar and other paradoxes, and doxastic logic.

Alan Weir has written on non-classical logic, particularly non-transitive logics, on Quine, particularly his philosophy of language and on the nature of proof.

Gary Kemp has written extensively upon the philosophy of language concentrating upon issues connected with truth, logical form reference, meaning, especially in connection with the philosophy of Quine and Davidson. Fraser MacBride has published on predication, and the relationship between truth, reference and being, and has an especial interest in the concept horse paradox and the nature of verbs in particular.

Philosophy of Mathematics

Rieger has a background in mathematics and has a particular interest in the set-theoretic paradoxes and in non-well-founded set theories. He has also written on the aesthetics of mathematics.

Weir has published widely in the philosophy of mathematics, including a recent book defending a novel form of formalism and several papers on naive set theory.

MacBride has written extensively on neo-Fregeanism, fictionalism and structuralism about mathematics, especially in the intersection with metaphysics.

We also have historical strengths in the area in Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Ramsey, Quine, Davidson, Dummett and Lewis (see history of philosophy section)

Recent publications include:

Adam Rieger

"Conditionals are material: the positive arguments", Synthese, 2013

"Defending a Simple Theory of Conditionals", American Philosophical Quarterly 2015

"Moore's paradox, introspection and doxastic logic", Thought 2015

Gary Kemp

*Quine versus Davidson*, OUP, 2012

*What is this thing called ‘Philosophy of Language’?* Routledge 2013.

Fraser Macbride

"How Truth Depends Upon Being", Analysis, 2014,

“For Keeping truth in triuthmaking”, Analysis 2013.

"Impure Reference: A Way Around the Concept Horse Paradox", Philosophical Perspectives, 2011,

Alan Weir

Truth Through Proof*, OUP, 2010

"Formalism” in the Philosophy of Mathematics", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

'Informal Proof, Formal Proof, Formalism', Review of Symbolic Logic, 2015.


Key staff

The nature of grounding

Kraemer’s work on grounding focuses on the broadly logical features of the grounding relation, trying to develop a semantic framework that can play the role for the study of the logic of ground that possible worlds semantics plays with respect to the logic of necessity.He has also worked on the question how grounding relates to explanation, arguing that in standard cases, it is only a special sort of grounds – difference-making ones – that provide satisfactory explanations of the facts they ground. He thinks that this observation helps us dispel certain worries about the transitivity or otherwise of ground.

Leuenberger has argued that grounding claims do not entail certain necessitation or supervenience claims, contrary to what is generally assumed. He is also interested in different notions of partial grounding.

Ontological commitment

Kraemer is interested in the topic of ontological commitment – how we incur rational commitments to recognizing the existence of certain sorts of entities – and of how considerations of ontological parsimony can guide rational choices between competing theories. He has argued that to arrive at a fair and non-question-begging assessment of a theory, we need to determine what its commitments are by its own lights, rather than from an external point of view.


Many philosophers have like to think that while many contingent truths are brute and unexplained, necessary truths are not: there are no brute necessities. Leuenberger has argued that if this claim were necessary, it would itself be a brute necessity. So if it is true, it is contingent. More generally, metaphysical claims are contingent. Leuenberger has explored the consequences of the view for modal logic.


McDonnell has worked widely in the philosophy of causation and its application, in particular counterfactual, contrastive, and interventionist theories. He is also interested in how causation and causal explanation feature elsewhere in philosophy (especially in normative philosophy and epistemology) and beyond (in accident investigation, the assessment of safety systems, and the law).


Leuenberger has argued that physicalism should be understood as the claim that the physical is ceteris absentibus (other things being absent) sufficient for everything. Thus understood, it is not vulnerable to the standard version of the conceivability argument. He is using concepts and techniques from modal logic to get a better understanding of “that’s it” operators that can be used to articulate the ceteris absentibus condition.

One of the main arguments for physialism, in the contemporary debate, is the causal exclusion argument. McDonnell has contributed to the analysis of this argument by drawing on his expertise in the specialized literature on causation, and is interested whether there is a physicalistically acceptable way of capturing the concept of emergence in the philosophy of science and philosophy of mind.

Research students in metaphysics

There are number of research students who have recently completed or are currently working on a thesis in metaphysics and related areas. Topics include:

  • counterfactual theories of causation
  • causal exclusion
  • change
  • foreknowledge and predestination
  • property realisation
  • properties as powerful qualities.

This adds up to a lively and supportive research community for people working in metaphysics.

Key publications

Stephan Kraemer

Stephan Leuenberger

Neil McDonnell

Moral and Political Philosophy

Key staff

We have people working in moral epistemology, moral psychology, virtue ethics, political philosophy and philosophy of education. Our research is broad-ranging, and we are happy to consider prospective research students working in these, and related areas. Within these areas we have a number of particular shared interests and strengths which make Glasgow a distinctive place to pursue research; these offer prospective doctoral students the exciting prospect of working with a team of senior and junior academics pursuing some distinctive lines of inquiry.

Moral epistemology

Brady works on the epistemic value of emotion in our moral thinking, and has recently published a well-received monograph on the subject. Cowan uses contemporary work in epistemology and the philosophy of perception to illuminate the prospects for ethical intuitionism, and Colburn is researching the history of ideas about the methodology and epistemology of ethics.

Moral psychology

Brady, Cowan and Pettigrove all work centrally on questions relating to moral psychology. In particular, Brady and Cowan (with colleagues David Bain and Jennifer Corns) have interests in the nature and normative significance of pain, and the department has been home two large interdisciplinary projects on the subject: the Nature of Pain (2012 - 2013) and The Value of Suffering (2013 – 2016). In addition, Adam Carter has just published a book on pride and moral psychology. This concentration of people working in moral psychology is an unusual – and advantageous – feature of the department.

Virtue ethics

The department has concentrations in both virtue ethics and virtue epistemology. With respect to the former, Pettigrove has works on the importance of meekness, anger, forgiveness and love, while Brady’s interests also overlap here. With respect to the latter, Pettigrove, along with Christoph Kelp and Adam Carter, are key contributors to the ongoing development of virtue epistemology.

Political philosophy

Colburn and Lazenby work in political philosophy can be divided into two broad areas of overlap, first, distributive justice and, second, autonomy and consent. Within distributive justice, both have written on the role of responsibility within a theory of justice and the proper ‘metric’ or ‘currency’ of justice. Within autonomy and consent, Colburn’s Autonomy and Liberalism, was selected as one of the Independent on Sunday’s paperbacks of the year in 2013, while Lazenby has recently published on how deception may invalidate consent. Together, they are interests in how an autonomy-based account of the competence condition on consent might be developed. Pettigrove’s interest in forgiveness also ranges over political contexts.

Philosophy of Education

Colburn and Lazenby have been jointly involved in research on what distributive justice requires in the funding of adult education – including whether participants or non-participants should pay for university education – and are involved in further projects in this area. Independently, Colburn is interested in questions of liberal education and neutrality.

PhD students

We have a number of PhD students currently working in these areas. Topics include:

  • the ethics of suicide
  • the value of participation in democracy
  • the demands of liberal neutrality
  • justice to future generations
  • ideological subterfuge in liberal multiculturalism
  • the pursuit of neutrality in liberal education. 

Taken as a whole, this adds up to a lively and supportive research community for people working in moral and political philosophy. As well as frequent workshops and conferences (e.g. as part of the Suffering Project, or the Responsibility and the Welfare State series) Philosophy plays host to part of the Glasgow Human Rights Network and organises joint events with people working on similar issues elsewhere in Glasgow University and the central belt of Scotland.

Philosophers working in moral and political philosophy at Glasgow are enthusiastic about using their ideas to engage with the wider community. Sometimes this involves bringing our research to a wider audience through public talks and events; for example, Brady’s recent public lectures associated with the Suffering Project. It also involves working with other organizations to bring our influence to bear in the political or cultural spheres. Colburn has been involved in developing policy on a national level, and is on the committee of the Stevenson Trust for citizenship, which runs public lectures and school education programmes on matters concerning politics, citizenship and human rights. Brady has a long-standing relationship with Quarantine, a Manchester-based theatre company which has used his work for shows and events in Manchester and the UK. He also (along with Bain and Colburn) worked with Glasgow company Trigger to put on a series of public philosophy events and plays in the run up to the 2014 independence referendum.

If you want to find out more, please feel free to e-mail any of us.

Key publications

You can find more extensive lists on our individual web pages.

Glen Pettigrove

  • ‘Re-Conceiving Character: The Social Ontology of Humean Virtue,’ Res Philosophica 92.3 (July 2015): 595-619.
  • ‘Anger and Moral Judgment,’ co-authored with Koji Tanaka, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92.2 (June 2014): 269-286.
  • Forgiveness and Love, Oxford University Press, 2012.

Michael Brady

  • ‘Moral and Intellectual Virtues’, Oxford Handbook of Virtue, ed. Nancy Snow (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018)
  • ‘The role of emotion in intellectual virtue’, Routledge Handbook of Virtue Epistemology, ed. Heather Battaly (London: Routledge, 2018)
  • Emotional Insight, Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • ‘Emotions, Perceptions, and Reasons’, in Morality and the Emotions, edited by Carla Bagnoli, Oxford University Press, 2012, 135-49.
  • ‘Disappointment’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supp. Volume 84, (2010): 179-198.

Ben Colburn

  • ‘Disadvantage, autonomy, and the Continuity Test’, Journal of Applied Philosophy 31 (2014): 254-270.
  • Autonomy and Liberalism (Routledge, New York: 2010, paperback edn. 2013).
  • ‘Autonomy and adaptive preferences’, Utilitas 23 (2011): 52-71.

Robert Cowan

  • ‘Ethical Perception and Cognitive Penetrability', Review of Philosophy and Psychology (2014).
  • ‘Perceptual Intuitionism’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (2013).
  • ‘Clarifying Ethical Intuitionism’, European Journal of Philosophy (2013).

Hugh Lazenby

  • ‘Permissible Secrets’, Philosophical Quarterly, (co-authored with Iason Gabriel) forthcoming.
  • ‘Mistakes and the Continuity Test’, Politics, Philosophy and Economics, 15 (2016): 190-205.
  • ‘One Kiss Too Many? Giving, Luck Egalitarianism and Other-affecting Choice’, Journal of Political Philosophy 18 (2010): 271-286.

Philosophy of Mind and Perception

Key staff

Philosophy of mind at Glasgow is vibrant and thriving. No fewer than seven of our permanent staff have interests and expertise in this area. We are, moreover, home to the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience (CSPE) which has become a remarkable hub of research activity.

Glasgow Philosophy and the CSPE have hosted myriad grant-funded projects in philosophy of mind, as well as numerous postdoctoral researchers, visiting academics, and visiting doctoral students. Our outside speaker programme often features philosophers of mind and, in addition, the CSPE runs a Philosophy, Psychology, and Neuroscience seminar series in collaboration with Psychology, as well as ad hoc reading groups and other events for students, professional researchers, and the general public.


The CSPE has become an internationally renowned research centre, especially for work on perception, experience, and consciousness. Under the directorship of Fiona Macpherson, it has hosted and participated in numerous perception-focused projects and collaborations, supported by a variety of funders (such as the AHRC and John Templeton Foundation) and involving partnerships with universities all over the world (e.g. Harvard, MIT, Toronto, Oslo, Fribourg). Often highly interdisciplinary, these projects include:

  • The Philosophy of Virtual and Augmented Reality
  • Understanding the Senses
  • Synchronising the Senses
  • Sense Data
  • The Eye’s Mind
  • Thought and Sense
  • Experience and Reason
  • The Network for Sensory Research
  • Rethinking the Senses. 

CSPE projects and collaborations

Staff working on perception include:

  • Fiona Macpherson (perception, introspection, cognitive penetration)
  • Derek Brown (perception and consciousness, colour and sensible qualities, misperception, sense-data)
  • David Bain (representationalism, bodily perception, colour perception)
  • Michael Brady (perception/emotion relationships and contrasts; suffering)
  • Jennifer Corns (non-conscious perception, sensation-perception-cognition, adverbialism, mental qualities)
  • Robert Cowan (cognitive penetration, perception of value).

Pain, suffering and hedonics

Glasgow Philosophy has also developed over recent years a significant strength in the study of pain and the critically important phenomenon of affect or valence or hedonics -- in other words, the fact that many ingredients of our mental lives (bodily sensations, perceptual experiences, emotions, and so forth) feel good or bad, are positive or negative, are pleasant or unpleasant.

In this connection, David Bain and Michael Brady led The Pain Project (2012-13) and The Value of Suffering Project  (2013-16), two international and interdisciplinary projects funded by the Templeton Foundation. These involved as postdoc Jennifer Corns, who is now a colleague and (with Ben Colburn) has led another affect-focused project: Suffering and Autonomy at the End of Life.

Staff currently working on pain, suffering, and hedonics include:


Staff working on emotion include:

  • Michael Brady (epistemic value of emotional experience; nature and value of suffering)
  • Robert Cowan (reason-responsiveness, emotions’ epistemic role)
  • David Bain (pain and emotion, emotional valence and hedonics)
  • Jennifer Corns (rationality of affective states).  

Also in this area is Glen Pettigrove, who works on emotion from the perspective of virtue ethics and moral psychology.

Metaphysics of mind

Finally, there is extensive research activity in Glasgow Philosophy on the metaphysics of mind, for instance on the Glasgow Emergence Project (2014-16) led by Stephan Leuenberger and Fiona Macpherson.

Staff with interests in the metaphysics of mind include:

  • Stephan Leuenberger (grounding, physicalism, supervenience, conceivability and possibility)
  • Fiona Macpherson (emergence, the structure of experience, property dualism, natural selection)
  • David Bain (the metaphysics of colour, mental representation, and phenomenal consciousness)
  • Derek Brown (colour and perceptible qualities)
  • Jennifer Corns (natural kinds, scientific and medical taxonomies).

PhD students in mind

Our doctoral students have worked on a wide variety of topics including:

  • pain and affect
  • the nature of talent
  • relationalist theories of perception
  • cognitive penetration
  • phenomenal unity
  • introspection
  • non-reductive physicalism
  • phenomenal character
  • phenomenal concepts
  • phenomenal properties
  • panpsychism
  • multiple realisation
  • mental causation
  • the metaphysics of the phenomenal present.

Key publications and projects

Please see staff profiles for publications, projects and detailed interests.