Philosophy of Mind, Psychology and Psychiatry

The Philosophy of Mind, Psychology, and Psychiatry theme brings together philosophers working on all aspects of the mind. Tightly enmeshed with the cutting edge sciences of the mind, the cluster’s interdisciplinary research engages with work at the forefront of current psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience.  

Our research interconnects with contemporary psychiatry to help us understand the nature of mental health. What is mental health? Are delusions beneficial? How should we act toward people who have mental disabilities? And what does it mean for a mind to ‘malfunction’?

We also focuses on how to integrate perceptual psychology with philosophy.  I see. But how do I see? What is vision, and how does it work? Is colour a feature of the world around us, or is it a construct of our minds? As well as analysing the work of psychologists from a philosophical point of view, the cluster works directly with psychologists in constructing new scientific experiments to increase our understanding of how we see.

These heavily scientifically informed interests are complimented by work on the nature of the mind at the most abstract metaphysical level. Is the mind a part of nature and, if so, in what sense? What is consciousness? How does it fit into the scientific picture of the world? How should we categorise mental faculties, and how do those groupings interact with how we normally, pre-theoretically think about our minds?


  • Lisa Bortolotti works on the philosophy of the cognitive sciences, specifically the limitations of human cognition and agency, delusions, and unreliable self-narratives. Her interests also include the philosophy of medicine.
  • Darragh Byrne focuses on the philosophy of mind and language, including empiricist conceptions of linguistic understanding and concept possession.
  • Maja Spener focuses on the intersection of the philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology, philosophy of science, and epistemology. Current interests include introspection, experimental psychology, psychological kinds, and perception.
  • Scott Sturgeon looks at what is fundamental to subject and object, including within consciousness, thought, and reason.
  • Ema Sullivan-Bissett researches the philosophy of mind and psychology, in particular the nature of belief, delusion, and implicit bias.
  • Henry Taylor focuses on the interface between philosophy and cognitive science. Specific areas of interest include consciousness, perception, and attention. 

Major publications

  • Bortolotti, Lisa. 2020 The Epistemic Innocence of Irrational Belief, Oxford: OUP.
  • Bortolotti, Lisa. 2020. Doctors without ‘Disorders’, Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 94, 163-84.
  • Spener, Maja. 2015. Calibrating Introspection, Philosophical Issues 25, 300-21.
  • Spener, Maja. 2018. Introspecting in the 20th Century, in Kind (ed.) Philosophy of Mind in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, London: Routledge.
  • Sturgeon, Scott. 2020. The Rational Mind. Oxford, OUP.
  • Sullivan-Bissett, Ema. 2018. Unimpaired abduction to alien abduction: Lessons on Delusion Formation, Philosophical Psychology 33, 679-704.
  • Sullivan-Bissett, Ema. 2018. Biased by our imaginings. Mind & Language 34, 627-47.
  • Taylor, Henry. 2018. Attention, Psychology, and Pluralism. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69, 935-56.
  • Taylor, Henry (co-authored with Bilge Sayam). 2019. Letters Lost: Capturing Appearance in Crowded Peripheral Vision Reveals a New Kind of Masking, Psychological Science 30.


Find out more



Irrational beliefs - Lisa Bortolotti
Birmingham Heroes: Ema Sullivan-Bissett