Dr Martin Pickup

Dr Martin Pickup

Department of Philosophy
Senior Lecturer in Philosophy

Qualifications

  • DPhil in Philosophy (Oxford, 2012)
  • BPhil in Philosophy (Oxford, 2009)
  • MA in Philosophy (King’s College London, 2006)
  • BA in Philosophy and Theology (Oxford, 2005)

Biography

I arrived in Birmingham in 2021 as a Senior Lecturer, with a focus in Philosophy of Religion. Before that, I had a number of research and teaching posts in Oxford spanning about a decade, including most recently as the Turpin Junior Research Fellow at Oriel College. Most of my training was also at Oxford, where I received my doctorate in 2012. I have been an International Visiting Professor at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, and have broad research interests spanning Philosophy of Religion, Metaphysics, and Early Modern Philosophy.

Teaching

I will shortly be teaching on the first-year modules Problems of Philosophy and Reasons to Believe. My future teaching will include, among other things, Philosophy of Religion, Early Modern Philosophy and Philosophy of Time.

Postgraduate supervision

I have a wide range of philosophical interests across my research areas of Philosophy of Religion, Metaphysics and Early Modern Philosophy. I am open to supervising topics in any of these areas, including where they overlap. I warmly welcome email enquiries from potential PhD students at any time.

Research

I am interested in the ultimate character and structure of reality, and in the ways that religious claims fit into this (or fail to). This interest manifests through research into three different areas: Philosophy of Religion, Metaphysics and Early Modern Philosophy (particularly Leibniz).

In Philosophy of Religion I work within the growing field of analytic theology, using the tools of contemporary analytic metaphysics to clarify and address key theoretical issues in religious thought. My research in this area can be characterised as a kind of ‘applied metaphysics.’ I don’t argue for the truth (or falsity) of any of the target claims, but rather, by translating them into the language of analytic metaphysics, investigate whether they are coherent. In future work, I will focus on the metaphysics of ‘down-stream’ religious claims, such as those concerning religious practice and rituals. A particular area of research will be the metaphysics of the Eucharist.

Within Metaphysics, my motivating questions concern what the world contains and how it is put together. I am developing a view, called ‘situationalism’, which holds that reality, in certain circumstances, is metaphysically indeterminate. I have published several papers exploring this idea and am working on a book manuscript which presents a systematic account and defence of the view. I also have independent research projects on topics such as the relationship between objects and space/time.

My current work in Early Modern Philosophy is primarily focussed on Leibniz and his metaphysics. I engage with Leibniz’s struggles in distinguishing between things that have to be the case and things that could have been otherwise (i.e. between necessary and contingent truths).

Publications

Recent publications

Article

Darby, G & Pickup, M 2021, 'Modelling deep indeterminacy', Synthese, vol. 198, pp. 1685–1710. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-019-02158-0

Pickup, M 2018, 'Answer to our prayers: The unsolved but solvable problem of petitionary prayer', Faith and Philosophy, vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 84-104. https://doi.org/10.5840/faithphil201811193

Pickup, M 2016, 'A Situationalist Solution to the Ship of Theseus Puzzle', Erkenntnis, vol. 81, no. 5, pp. 973-992. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-015-9777-3

Pickup, M 2016, 'The Trinity and Extended Simples', Faith and Philosophy, vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 414-440. https://doi.org/10.5840/faithphil2016101170

Pickup, M 2016, 'Unextended Complexes', Thought: A Journal of Philosophy, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 257-264. https://doi.org/10.1002/tht3.221

Pickup, M 2015, 'Real Presence in the Eucharist and Time-Travel', Religious Studies, vol. 51, no. 3, pp. 379-389. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0034412514000444

Pickup, M 2014, 'Leibniz and the Necessity of the Best Possible World', Australasian Journal of Philosophy, vol. 92, no. 3, pp. 507-523. https://doi.org/10.1080/00048402.2014.889724

View all publications in research portal

Expertise

  • Expertise: Philosophy of Religion: the existence of God; the metaphysics of Christianity; nature of religious rituals/practices
  • Metaphysics: Time; Indeterminacy; Identity
  • Early Modern Philosophy: G. W. Leibniz

Media experience

Roles

  • Fellow at the Institute of Art and Ideas, an organisation ‘promoting big ideas, boundary-pushing thinkers and challenging debates in the public sphere’, who run the HowTheLightGetsIn festivals(2016-17)
  • Exhibitor at Living Library, part of Oxford University’s Curiosity Carnival (2017)
  • Finalist in ‘I’m a Researcher Get Me out of Here’, part of Oxford University’s Curiosity Carnival (2017)

Articles

Social media

  • Video presentation on petitionary prayer for Brazilian philosophy social media channel (2020)