Dr Anneli Jefferson

Dr Anneli Jefferson

Department of Philosophy
Postdoctoral Researcher

I am a philosopher of psychology, with special interests in the intersection between philosophy of psychology and moral philosophy.


  • Magister Artium Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf (Germany). 
  • MPhil King’s College London
  • PhD King’s College London
  • I also hold a qualification as a secondary school teacher for English and Philosophy.


Before coming to Birmingham I worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the institute of Neuroscience and Medicine at the Research Centre Jülich, Germany. 


  • The Ethics of Killing


I am currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow working on a three year project entitled ‘Mental Disorders, Brain Disorders and Moral Responsibility’. In this project, I look at the relationship between mental disorders and brain disorders and investigate how these disorders affect capacities necessary for moral responsibility.

From September 2015 to May 2016, I worked on a project on the costs and benefits of optimism with Lisa Bortolotti. This project was part of the Hope and Optimism Funding Initiative supported by the Templeton Foundation. We investigated the nature, causes and effects of unrealistic optimism.

Other topics I am interested in are theories of content, concepts of dysfunction and disorder in the life sciences, ethics and moral psychology.


  • Jefferson, Anneli forthcoming: Instrumentalism about Moral Responsibility Revisited. The Philosophical Quarterly (online first) DOi:: 10.1093/pq/pqy062
  • Jefferson, Anneli 2018: Confabulation, Rationalisation and Morality. Topoi (online first) DOI: 10.1007/s11245-018-9608-7 
  • Jefferson, A. and Sifferd, K. 2018: Are psychopaths legally insane? European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 14:1, 79-96
  • Jefferson, Anneli. 2018: What does it take to be a brain disorder? Synthese (online first) 
  • Jefferson, Anneli 2017: Born to be Biased? Unrealistic Optimism and Error Management Theory. Philosophical Psychology, 30:8, 1159-1175
  • Jefferson, A., Bortolotti, L. and Kuzmanovic, B. 2017: What is Unrealistic Optimism? Consciousness and Cognition, 50, 3-11
  • Godman, M. and Jefferson, A. 2017: On Blaming and Punishing Psychopaths. Journal of Criminal Law and Philosophy, 11: 1, 127–142
  • Kuzmanovic, B., Jefferson, A. and Vogeley, K. 2016: The Role of the neural reward circuitry in self-referential optimistic belief updates. Neuroimage 133, 151-162
  • Heinrichs, J.H. , Jefferson, A. 2016: Moralischer Zufall (Moral Luck).  In Kühler, M. And Rüther, M. (eds): Handbuch Handlungstheorie, Metzler 228 -236
  • Kuzmanovic, B., Jefferson, A., and Vogeley, K. 2015: Self-Specific Optimism Bias is Associated with high Trait Optimism. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making  28:  3,  281–293 
  • Jefferson, Anneli 2014: Slippery Slope Arguments. Philosophy Compass. 9:10, 672-680 
  • Jefferson, Anneli 2014: Mental Disorders, Brain Disorders and Values. Frontiers in Psychology 5:130

View all publications in research portal