Dr Henry Taylor

Dr Henry Taylor

Department of Philosophy
Senior Lecturer

Contact details

Address
Room 247, ERI Building
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

Since joining the department in 2017, my work has focussed on the interface between philosophy and cognitive science. I have worked especially on consciousness, perception, and attention. I’m especially interested in how these faculties interact with each other in the mind. My work in these areas is collected in my papers (below).

I am currently interested in the relations between biological, psychological and psychiatric natural kinds. Broadly, the study of natural kinds is the study of scientific categories and categorisation. Both scientists and laypeople typically divide the mind up into a variety of different faculties (such as memory, emotions, consciousness, vision and so on). Similarly, psychiatrists use specific categories in the course of diagnosis and treatment (such asschizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and so on). I am interested in how these categorisation judgements are made. I think that a better understanding of natural kinds can shed light on psychological faculties such as perception and consciousness, and also on psychiatric categories such as schizophrenia and depression. I am currently working on a monograph on these topics.

Henry Taylor at Google scholar

Feedback and office hours

  • Mondays 13:30-14:30
  • Thursdays 10:00-11:00

Qualifications

  • BA (hons) (Durham)
  • MPhil (Cambridge)
  • PhD (Durham)

Biography

I am a Birmingham Fellow. I joined the department in 2017. Since joining Birmingham, I’ve worked mainly in the philosophy of cognitive science, especially on perception.

 Before that, I was a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Cambridge for two years. I worked mainly on the metaphysics of properties, and the importance of properties for understanding consciousness.

I got my PhD in 2015 from the University of Durham. My thesis was on attention. For this, I was supported by the University, and by the Royal Institute of Philosophy.

Teaching

In the academic year 2018-19, I will be teaching the Metaphysics MA, Philosophy of Language MA, Key Readings (1st year undergraduate) and Philosophy of Biology (3rd year undergraduate) courses.

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome enquiries from anyone working in any area of metaphysics, philosophy of mind, or philosophy of cognitive science.


Find out more - our PhD Philosophy  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.

Research

I’m particularly interested in:

  • Consciousness (How does consciousness fit into the physical world? How should we study consciousness in nonhuman animals and infants?)
  • Perception (What is the best way to understand how we perceive the world? Does perception require consciousness?)
  • Attention (What is attention? Can we understand consciousness by using attention? Is attention ‘one thing’ or is it actually many different mental faculties?)
  • Natural kinds in cognitive science (How should we understand the categories employed by cognitive science? How do they contribute to scientific success?)

I’m currently writing a monograph on natural kinds in psychology due out by 2023. This will draw together my previous work on attention, consciousness, and perception, which can be found under ‘publications’, below.

Another strand on my research concerns peripheral vision: how we should understand our visual capacities outside of the centre of our visual field. This work has focussed on crowding, which is a puzzling phenomenon where objects placed in peripheral vision become harder to identify when they’re placed near other objects.

As well as my work on the interface of philosophy and science, I have also done a lot of work on the metaphysics of properties. Objects in the world have certain properties (for example, a ball may have properties such as redness and sphericity), but how should we best understand these properties? How do they participate in causal interactions? What would properties have to be like to explain the success of science?

Other activities

Publications

Recent publications

Article

Taylor, H 2021, 'A new solution to the regress of pure powers', Analysis. https://doi.org/10.1093/analys/anab039

Taylor, H & Sayim, B 2020, 'Redundancy masking and the identity crowding debate', Thought: A Journal of Philosophy. https://doi.org/10.1002/tht3.469

Taylor, J 2020, 'The relation between subjects and their conscious experiences', Philosophical Studies, vol. 177, pp. 3493-3507. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-019-01379-w

Taylor, J 2019, 'Fuzziness in the mind: can perception be unconscious?', Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. https://doi.org/10.1111/phpr.12592

Sayim, B & Taylor, J 2019, 'Letters lost: capturing appearance in crowded peripheral vision reveals a new kind of masking', Psychological Science, vol. 30, no. 7, pp. 1082-1086. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797619847166

Taylor, J 2019, 'Modal combinatorialism is consistent with S5', Thought: A Journal of Philosophy, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 23-32. https://doi.org/10.1002/tht3.401

Taylor, J 2019, 'Powerful problems for powerful qualities', Erkenntnis. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-019-00199-y

Taylor, J 2019, 'Whales, fish and Alaskan bears: interest-relative taxonomy and kind pluralism in biology', Synthese. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-019-02284-9

Taylor, J 2018, 'Attention psychology and pluralism', The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, vol. 69, no. 4, pp. 935–956. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axx030

Taylor, J & Sayim, B 2018, 'Crowding, attention and consciousness: In support of the inference hypothesis', Mind & Language, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 17-33. https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.7724, https://doi.org/10.1111/mila.12169

Taylor, J 2018, 'Emotions, concepts and the indeterminacy of natural kinds', Synthese. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-018-1783-y

Taylor, J 2018, 'Is panpsychism simple?', Analysis.

Taylor, J 2018, 'Powerful Qualities and Pure Powers', Philosophical Studies, vol. 175, no. 6, pp. 1423–1440. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-017-0918-1

Taylor, J 2018, 'Powerful qualities, phenomenal concepts and the new challenge to physicalism', Australasian Journal of Philosophy, vol. 96, no. 1, pp. 53-66 . https://doi.org/10.1080/00048402.2017.1321678

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Taylor, J 2018, A powerful new Anomalous Monism. in M Guta (ed.), Consciousness and the Ontology of Properties. 1st edn, Routledge, New York, pp. 39-52.

View all publications in research portal

Expertise

I specialise in the overlap between cognitive science and philosophy, in particular:

  • The philosophy of psychology (especially perceptual psychology)
  • The nature of consciousness
  • Perception, especially as it relates to consciousness.
  • Attention.
  • Colour
  • The metaphysics of properties 

Articles by Henry

Below is a selection of Henry's popular media articles and appearances. He has published in The Conversation.

Interviews

  • Discussed contemporary metaphysics and the influence of Aristotle’s metaphysics on Islamic Philosophy on The Voice of Islam (January 2021).
  • Discussed the role of emotions in our moral judgements on The Voice of Islam. Listen to the recording is available (starts at 1 hour, 7 minutes)(October 2020).

Expertise

  • Brain damage, senses and vision impairment
  • Nature of attention (paying attention to something)