Before joining the Philosophy Department at the University of Birmingham as a Lecturer in 2005, I was Honorary Lecturer in Bioethics in the Centre for Social Ethics and Policy at the University of Manchester and Research Associate on the EC-funded EU-RECA (on the concept of research and the ethical regulation of research activities) coordinated by Professor John Harris. Since at Birmingham, my research and teaching has focused on the philosophy of the cognitive sciences (rationality and belief), and on a variety of issues in biomedical ethics.
I am the author of a textbook, Introduction to the philosophy of science (Polity Press, 2008), a monograph, Delusions and Other Irrational Beliefs (OUP, 2009), and a key concepts book, Irrationality (Polity, 2014). In 2011 I was awarded the American Philosophical Association Book Prize for the monograph. I am currently working on another monograph provisionally entitled The Epistemic Innocence of Imperfect Cognitions and on an introduction to the philosophy and psychology of health and happiness with Michael Larkin.
I edited two volumes, Philosophy and Happiness (Palgrave, 2009) and, with Matthew Broome, Psychiatry as Cognitive Neuroscience: Philosophical Perspectives (OUP, 2009). The latter was listed among the Guardian Books of the Year in 2009.
Until December 2019 I will be on research leave.
Before going on leave, I taught Philosophical Texts (level 2), Philosophy of Science (level 2), Philosophy of Psychology (level 3), Philosophy of Cognitive Science (M-level), and I co-taught Philosophy of Health & Happiness (M-level).
I continue to supervise postgraduate research students. Topics include: nonhuman ethics; nature of delusions; the conceptualisation of anxiety disorders; nature of pain; cognitive benefits of bipolar disorder; psychiatric diagnosis, identity and responsibility for action; empathy and the emotions.
My research topics include: theories of belief ascription, rationality debate in philosophy and cognitive science, rationality and self knowledge in psychopathology, delusions and confabulation, psychological realism, autonomy and personhood, demarcation between science and pseudoscience, research ethics, reproductive ethics, animal rights, death and immortality. More recently, I got interested in theories of delusion formation, in the relationship between having a diagnosis of mental illness and being morally responsible for one's actions, and in the phenomena of positive illusions and unrealistic optimism.
From September 2015 for 12 months I will be on a non-residential fellowship (20%, $76,299) for a project entitled "Costs and Benefits of Optimism" as part of a funding initiative on Hope and Optimism supported by the Templeton Foundation and managed by Cornell University and the University of Notre Dame.
My 5-year project, funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant (80%, EUR 1.900.065), is called PERFECT, Pragmatic and Epistemic Role of Factually Erroneous Cognitions and Thoughts. It features a team of three post-doctoral researchers and two PhD students, and Michael Larkin from the School of Psychology is also involved.
From September 2013 for twelve months I was funded by an AHRC Fellowship to pursue a project entitled "The Epistemic Benefits of Imperfect Cognitions".
In 2012 I was awarded a Wellcome Trust Small Grant in the Ethics & Society stream on Moral Responsibility and Psychopathology which funded a workshop on the topic in March 2013. Co-applicants were Matthew Broome (University of Oxford) and Matteo Mameli (King's College London).
From January to June 2011 I was funded by a Wellcome Trust Research Expense Grant for a project on Rationality and Sanity.
In 2009 I was awarded AHRC reseach leave for a project on the nature of clinical delusions, and an Endeavour Research Fellowship (offered by the Department of Education, Employment and the Workplace Relations of the Australian Government) to work with Professor Max Coltheart and other members of the Belief Formation group at Macquarie University.
In this short video I talk about my research into clinical delusions as irrational beliefs.