Dr Hanna Pickard BA, BPhil, DPhil (Oxon.)

Dr Hanna Pickard

Department of Philosophy
Reader in Philosophy

Contact details

ERI Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I specialize in the philosophy of mind and psychiatry and clinical ethics, exploring philosophical questions that arise out of clinical practice and related science, law and policy. My central current research project involves articulating the concepts of responsibility and blame that are used within clinical contexts and their relevance to philosophy and criminal justice. I also work on the nature of addiction. 

As well as being a philosopher, I work in a therapeutic community for patients with personality disorder and complex needs, and I develop and deliver training for mental health professionals and prison officers.

You can find more information about me from my personal webpage


  • DPhil, University of Oxford, 2001
  • BPhil, University of Oxford, 1997
  • BA, Queen's University, Canada, 1995


After completing my DPhil, I started to work in a therapeutic community for patients with personality disorder and complex needs, and have divided my time between philosophy and the clinic ever since. More recently, I have started working as an independent consultant, developing and delivering training based on my research to mental health professionals and prision officers.  Although I am at core an analytic philosopher, my research is inter-disciplinary and I am deeply committed to using philosophy to make a difference to people’s lives. 

I am also a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. 

Postgraduate supervision

  • Philosophy of mind and psychiatry
  • Clinical ethics
  • Moral psychology
  • Philosophy and mental health law


A central component of my current research involves investigating the clinical stance often adopted towards patients who do wrong or behave in problematic, difficult ways that I call ‘Responsibility without Blame’. This stance involves holding patients responsible and accountable for their behaviour, but not blaming them, in order to facilitate learning and change. At first glance, this stance can seem conceptually incoherent, let alone impossible to achieve in practice. I have developed a conceptual framework that articulates the concepts of responsibility and blame implicit in this stance, and explored how this separation can in practice be achieved. This research is the basis for a training I have developed for mental health professionals and prision officers. 

My research on addiction focuses on using philosophical analysis and clinical practice to redress the standard conception of addiction as a neurobiological disease of compulsion. I argue that drug and alcohol use is a choice that, within the clinical population of chronic addicts, is both purposive and to some extent rational given a realistic picture of the social and economic environment and co-morbid mental health problems that most addicts face. I believe we need to radically reform our common attitudes towards addiction and transform drug law and policy. 

I also work on self-harm and violence towards others, theories of punishment and criminal law, the moral emotions, decision-making capacity; and I am interested in cognitive and social psychology, feminist philosophy, and placebos.


Selected publications:

For a full list of publications, please see my personal webpage.