Dr Ema Sullivan-Bissett PhD (York)

Dr Ema Sullivan-Bissett

Department of Philosophy
Lecturer in Philosophy

Contact details

ERI Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am a Lecturer in Philosophy. I work primarily on issues in philosophy of mind and psychology, specifically belief and its connection to truth, and delusional belief. I am also interested in biological approaches to what are characteristically thought to be normative questions in philosophy of mind and epistemology. Please visit my personal webpage for more information. 


  • B.A. in Philosophy (York, 2009)
  • M.A. in Philosophy (York, 2010)
  • PhD in Philosophy (York, 2014)


My main research areas are the philosophy of mind and psychology, mostly focusing on the nature of belief and delusion. With respect to the first, my view is that we can explain features of belief which link it to truth without appeal to there being aims or norms of belief which do the explaining, we can, instead, appeal to the biological functions of our mechanisms of belief-production. With respect to the second, I am working on a one-factor account of monothematic delusional belief formation (and the wider implications thereof), according to which the reasoning of subjects with these beliefs is within the normal range of human psychology.



  • Sullivan-Bissett, Ema, Bradley, Helen, and Noordhof, Paul (eds.) Art and Belief. Under contract with Oxford University Press.

Journal articles

  • Sullivan-Bissett, Ema forthcoming: ‘Biological Function and Epistemic Normativity’. Philosophical Explorations.
  • Sullivan-Bissett, Ema forthcoming: ‘Malfunction Defended’. Synthese
  • Sullivan-Bissett, Ema forthcoming: ‘The Role of Emotions and Values in Competence’. Journal of Medical Ethics.
  • Sullivan-Bissett, Ema 2015: ‘Implicit Bias, Confabulation, and Epistemic Innocence’. Consciousness and Cognition. Vol. 33, pp. 548–60. 
  • Sullivan-Bissett, Ema and Noordhof, Paul 2013: ‘A Defence of Owens’ Exclusivity Objection to Beliefs Having Aims’. Philosophical Studies, Vol. 163, No. 2, pp. 453–457.
  • McGregor, Rafe and Sullivan-Bissett, Ema 2012: ‘Better No Longer to Be: The Harm of Continued Existence’. South African Journal of Philosophy. Vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 55–68.
  • Sullivan-Bissett, Ema 2012: ‘Changing Approaches to Blindsight: Relevant, but not Decisive: Reply to Foley’. Philosophical Writings; Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual British Postgraduate Philosophy Conference. pp. 56–60.


  • Bortolotti, Lisa, Antrobus, Magdalena, and Sullivan-Bissett, Ema forthcoming: ‘Are Self-enhancing Beliefs Epistemically Innocent?’ In Balcerak Jackson, Brendan and Balcerak Jackson, Magdalena (eds.) Reasoning. Oxford University Press.
  • Sullivan-Bissett, Ema, Bortolotti, Lisa, Broome, Matthew and Mameli, Matteo forthcoming: ‘Moral and Legal Implications of the Continuity between Delusional and Non-delusional Beliefs’. In Keil, Geert (ed.) Vagueness in Psychiatry. Oxford University Press.
  • Sullivan-Bissett, Ema and Bortolotti, Lisa forthcoming. 'Fictional Persuasion, Transparency, and the Aim of Belief'. In Sullivan-Bissett, Ema, Bradley, Helen, and Noordhof, Paul (eds.) Art and the Nature of Belief. Oxford University Press.
  • Bortolotti, Lisa, Gunn, Rachel, and Sullivan-Bissett, 2016: ‘What Makes a Belief Delusional?’ In Mac Carthy, Ita, Sellevold, Kirsti, and Smith, Olivia (eds.) Cognitive Confusions. Legenda, pp. 37–51.

Book reviews

  • Sullivan-Bissett, Ema 2015: ‘Review of The Aim of Belief, edited by Timothy Chan’. Mind. Vol. 124, no. 496, pp. 1258–64. 
  • Bortolotti, Lisa and Sullivan-Bissett, Ema 2014: ‘Review of New Essays on Belief: Constitution, Content and Structure by Nikolaj Nottelmann’. Dialectica. Vol. 68, no. 1, pp. 141–6.