Theron Pummer (Director)
Theron Pummer specializes in ethics. He has wide-ranging interests but his research thus far has focused on a set of connected theoretical problems at the intersection of ethics and metaphysics. These problems concern the nature of well-being and its distribution across populations, the ethical significance of personal identity, and the structure of the good and reasons. The resolution of these problems, he believes, would have substantial implications for real-world decisions about how to allocate scarce resources (the sort of decisions that the World Health Organization confronts, for example). He is very interested in the ethics of charitable giving and the philosophical foundations of effective altruism.
Adam Etinson (Assistant Director)
Adam Etinson works on a range of topics in moral and political philosophy. Much of his current research is in the philosophy of human rights, where he thinks about what human rights are, what grounds them, and what they require of us. In addition to this work, Adam has interests in liberal politics, particularly in the demands of “public reason.” And he has interests in social epistemology, where he looks at the problem of cultural bias (sometimes referred to as “ethnocentrism”). Most recently, he has been thinking about the concept of human dignity.
More details on Adam’s publication, Some Myths about Ethnocentrism as part of the Knowledge, Democracy, and Public Discourse project.
John Haldane (Senior Fellow)
Sarah Broadie’s research is mainly on ancient Greek philosophy, but she is interested in a wide range of philosophical subjects, including of course ethics and the theory of action, and in a wide range of historical philosophers. Her main publications include Ethics with Aristotle (OUP 1991) and a commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics (OUP 2002).
Within epistemology, I work on our knowledge of our own minds and our ability to reason, as well as the closure and transmission of knowledge and warrant, scepticism, fallibiism versus infallibilism, evidence, the debate between contextualists and invariantists, the epistemic norms of assertion and practical reasoning, blameworthy belief, epistemic blame, group belief and action
Within responsibility, I’m interested in both epistemic and moral responsibility, blame for beliefs and actions, as well as the moral responsibility of groups and how it relates to the moral responsibility of group members.
Wtihin philosophical methodology, I’m interested in a range of methodological issues including the nature of philosophy (its subject matter and evidence); the role of ordinary language, linguistics and conceptual analysis in philosophy; thought experiments; intuitions; and, sources of scepticism about philosophy (disagreement, evolutionary debunking worries, experimental philosophy).
Sophie Grace Chappell is Professor of Philosophy at the Open University, UK, Leverhulme Major Research Fellow 2017-2020, Visiting Fellow in the Department of Philosophy, St Andrews 2017-2020, and Erskine Research Fellow, University of Canterbury NZ, Spring 2020. She was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, and Edinburgh University. She was Director of the Scots Philosophical Association, 2003-2006. Since 2000 she has been Reviews Editor of The Philosophical Quarterly and Treasurer of the Mind Association. In 2021 she will be a REF sub-panellist for Philosophy. She has published over a hundred articles on ethics, moral psychology, epistemology, ancient philosophy and philosophy of religion. Her books include Aristotle and Augustine on Freedom (Routledge, 1995), Understanding Human Goods (Edinburgh University Press, 2003), The Inescapable Self: an Introduction to Philosophy (Orion, 2005), Reading Plato’s Theaetetus (Hackett, 2005), Ethics and Experience (Acumen, 2009), and Knowing What to Do: Imagination, Virtue, and Platonism in Ethics (Oxford University Press, 2014). She has also edited or co-edited five collections of essays in ethics, most recently Intuition, Theory, and Anti-Theory in Ethics (Oxford University Press, 2015) and Ethics Beyond The Limits: Essays on Bernard Williams’ Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (Routledge, forthcoming). Her main current research is about epiphanies, immediate and revelatory encounters with value, and their place in our experience and our philosophical ethics. She is a Governor of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists, a member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club (climbing new winter routes up to grade VII,7), an active poet and translator of the classical Greek dramatists, and an untalented but keen cyclist and pianist. She is the UK’s first openly transgender philosophy academic, having transitioned in 2014. She lives with her family in Dundee.
Ben Colburn is head of Philosophy at Glasgow University. His main research interests are in political philosophy and ethics. Most of his work (e.g. the monograph Autonomy and Liberalism) has explored the nature and value of individual autonomy and its relation to ideals of liberal neutrality. He also writes on related topics, including the nature of responsibility and its role in distributive justice, and the content and institutions of liberal education. He has recently also been working on the relationship between political philosophy and public policy, especially concerning migration policy, and palliative and geriatric care.
Rowan Cruft works on the nature and moral foundations of rights, paying particular attention to the ways in which different sorts of rights (e.g. natural moral rights, human rights, legal rights, property rights, contractual rights) can be justified. He is currently writing a book on the varied roles played by the individual right-holder’s interests in grounding different types of right. He is keen to demonstrate the legal and policy implications of his work, and has some experience – e.g. presenting at the Scottish parliament on the moral issues surrounding debts taken on by undemocratic states, or at the Leveson Inquiry on the moral foundations of the rights to freedom of expression and a free press.
Alex Douglas is interested in the history and philosophy of political economy. His most recent book, The Philosophy of Debt (Routledge, 2015), examines the concept of debt through the lenses of language, history, and political economy. His current research is on theories of desire in Spinoza and other early modern philosophers in relation to the development of political economy. He is also a Research Scholar at the Binzagr Institute for Sustainable Prosperity
Katherine Hawley is interested in trust, distrust and competence in both ethics and epistemology, and is currently completing a monograph on this topic. This work develops her long-standing research into practical knowledge, considering it in the light of social and political challenges to the communication of trustworthiness. She has a related project on commitment and self-control. Finally, she works in metaphysics, and is planning a new project in the metaphysics of social groups and organisations.
Basil O’Neill is interested in moral and political aspects of Ancient Philosophy in relation to modern Continental Philosophy, especially Derrida and Levinas. Consequently, he is concerned with irony, indirect communication, and the incompleteness of human understanding in relation to the idea of the transcendent.
Ben Sachs’s main research areas at the moment are (1) the ethics of how we treat animals and (2) contractarianism. Contractarianism is a theory of the role of the state, and he would like to apply it to practical questions about the law (e.g., whether it should be used to enforce morality, whether it should protect animals) and distributive justice. In the past he has worked a fair amount on the ethics of coercion, the ethics of using humans as medical research subjects, and the distribution of health care resources, and he still thinks about those things from time to time.
Justin Snedegar’s research is primarily in metaethics and practical reasoning. One strand of this research is to explore the ways in which how we think of the alternatives open to us may influence what we ought to do. Another is to explore the ways that contributory considerations, like reasons for and against different actions, interact and compete to determine what we ought to do, all things considered. His hope is that this work may serve as part of a theoretical background for investigation into deliberation and normative thinking more generally.
Jens Timmermann works on ethical theory, legal philosophy and applied ethics, mostly from a Kantian perspective.