Key Research Interests and Expertise

My research contributes to experimental philosophy and metaphilosophy, with applications in the philosophies of language and perception.

My main research programme, Psychological Philosophy, explores how findings from psychology can be used to address philosophical problems. In collaboration with colleagues from psycholinguistics and computational linguistics, I study how philosophical problems can be resolved or rendered more tractable through insights into how we think and speak when doing philosophy. I am particularly interested in stereotypes and metaphors, and in philosophical problems about perception.

The project Stereotypes in Philosophy examines how unavoidable stereotypical inferences drive natural language reasoning. We use eye-tracking methods from psycholinguistics to study such automatic inferences and the conditions under which they go wrong. We deploy findings to analyse and assess philosophical arguments and thought experiments. We have studied how inappropriate stereotypical inferences from appearance- and perception-verbs drive arguments in the philosophy of perception. Ongoing work includes a study on stereotypical inferences about ‘zombies’ and consequences for the philosophy of consciousness. Recent findings have been published, e.g., in Mind and Language (2016, 2019), Synthese (2019), and Ratio (2017).

The project Metaphorical Minds examines analogical reasoning with conceptual metaphors – a prime engine of creative thought. The project uses computationally implemented models of analogical reasoning to study under what conditions default strategies for analogical reasoning interfere with default interpretation strategies for metaphors. I am particularly interested in how these processes interact in shaping intuitive introspective conceptions of the mind. Findings have been published, e.g., in Synthese (2014), Analysis (2015), and Connection Science (2018).

I am keen to explore how new methods from psychology and the digital humanities can be adapted for new uses, in philosophy. This interest led to the volume Methodological Advances in Experimental Philosophy (Bloomsbury 2019). Metaphilosophical questions about experimental philosophy are pursued in the volume Experimental Philosophy, Rationalism, and Naturalism: Rethinking Philosophical Method (Routledge 2015).

Previous work explored the analogy between philosophy and therapy. It examined when and why ‘therapeutic’ aims and methods can complement familiar forms of philosophical argument and analysis. This research used findings from cognitive psychology and concepts from cognitive psychotherapy to develop some meta-philosophical and methodological ideas first mooted by Wittgenstein and J.L. Austin. This research has redeveloped the notions of ‘philosophical problem-dissolution’ and ‘therapeutic philosophy’ within a post-linguistic paradigm. Findings were brought together in the monograph Philosophical Delusion and its Therapy. Outline of a Philosophical Revolution, Routledge 2011 (Paperback 2013). More recent papers explore how findings from my experimental work provide empirical means and foundations for experimental ordinary language philosophy in the wake of Austin (e.g., Synthese 2019) and help develop some Wittgensteinian ideas (e.g., in chapters 2018 and 2019).

I am co-editor of the monograph series Wittgenstein’s Thought and Legacy (Routledge) and of a collection on Wittgenstein’s metaphilosophy (Routledge 2004, p/b 2010).
I am happy to supervise work on any of these and directly related topics.
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