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Finding a supervisor

We allocate at least two supervisors to each student in order to cover sufficient specialism and a variety of skills and expertise within a student’s research project.

Explore our area groups to find out more about our research specialisms and the academics who are keen to supervise in each area.


  • Catharine Abell - the nature of pictorial representation, the definition of art, expression in the representational arts, fiction and genre.
  • Julian Dodd - the ontology of music, and on topics in the philosophy of music generally.

In the 2014 Philosophical Gourmet Report, we were ranked in the top 18 departments internationally for Philosophy of Art.


  • Thomas Uebel - epistemic justification, scepticism, a priori knowledge, and social epistemology and historical studies.
  • Joel Smith - self-knowledge and our knowledge of other minds.
  • Ann Whittle - the claim that we can have no knowledge of the intrinsic natures of properties.
  • Catharine Abell - the epistemic standing of pictures, in work that responds to recent developments in aesthetics.
  • Helen Beebee - the problem of induction (in connection with the metaphysics of laws and the work of Hume) and transfer of warrant.
  • Chris Daly - the notion of acquaintance.
  • David Liggins - epistemological arguments against abstract objects.


  • John O’Neill - environmental ethics and intellectual property rights.
  • Michael Scott - expressivist theories of moral and religious discourse.
  • David Liggins - metaethical questions, with interests in moral realism and anti-realism.
  • Thomas Smith - promises (and other commitments), the ethics of social and professional roles, the ethics of collectives.


  • Graham Stevens and Sean Crawford - Russell’s philosophical development.
  • Julian Dodd - Wittgenstein and the Tractatus in particular.
  • Thomas Uebel - The Vienna Circle, especially Neurath (an interest shared by John O’Neill).
  • Helen Beebee - Hume on causation and, more broadly, his psychology, epistemology and metaphysics.
  • Joel Smith - Kant and post-Kantian philosophy, especially phenomenology.
  • Sean Crawford - Descartes’s philosophy of mind

In the 2014 Philosophical Gourmet Report, we were ranked in the top 15 departments internationally for History of Analytic Philosophy.


  • Helen Beebee - causation, laws of nature, free will and natural kinds.
  • Ann Whittle - causation, properties, laws of nature and free will.
  • Cynthia Macdonald - many topics in metaphysics, including persons, substances, events, supervenience and causation.
  • Thomas Smith - the ontology of groups, institutions and social/professional roles; the ontology of mind and action.
  • Chris Daly - mathematics, modality, truth-makers, meta-ontology.
  • Julian Dodd - the ontology of music; truth-makers.
  • David Liggins - mathematics, modality, material composition, truth-makers, grounding and meta-ontology.

Philosophy of language

  • Chris DalySean Crawford and Graham Stevens share an interest in singular and direct reference.
  • Graham Stevens - definite descriptions and natural language quantification as well indexicality and the semantics/pragmatics interface.
  • Michael Scott - expressivism and all aspects of religious language.
  • Michael Scott and Graham Stevens work both on issues surrounding semantic antirealism and on metaphor.
  • David Liggins and Chris Daly both work on fictionalism and related questions of philosophical method. Along with Julian Dodd, they also work on issues surrounding truth and truthmaking that intersect philosophy of language and metaphysics.
  • Catharine Abell - pragmatics, and is especially interested in whether theories of the pragmatics of linguistic communication can be used to explain non-linguistic communication and communication through fiction.
  • Helen Beebee - the semantics of natural kind terms.
  • Thomas Uebel, Julian Dodd, and Graham Stevens - historical aspects of the philosophy of language, particularly in relation to Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, and the Vienna Circle.

See also the Manchester Philosophy of Language Research Group page.

Philosophy of mind and psychology

  • Catherine Abell - the nature of representation.
  • Sean Crawford - intentionality and propositional attitudes as well as sensory experience in Descartes.
  • Michael Scott - the nature of perception and the individuation of the senses.
  • Joel Smith - self-knowledge, knowledge of other minds and the nature of perceptual experience. He has also written on bodily awareness and the imagination.
  • Thomas Smith - joint intention, shared intention, practical rationality, action explanation.
  • Ann Whittle - the metaphysics of mind and the problem of mental causation.
  • Cynthia Macdonald - mental (and higher-level) causation, as well as the nature of explanation in psychology and the other special sciences.

See also the Manchester Mind Group and and our Architecture of Consciousness project,

In the 2014 Philosophical Gourmet Report, we were ranked in the top 18 departments internationally for Philosophy of Action.

Philosophy of religion

  • Michael Scott - all areas of philosophy of religion with particular emphasis on religious language, including the realism/antirealism problem.
  • Michael Scott and Graham Stevens have recently published a paper on whether the possibility of divine knowledge enforces a form of semantic realism.
  • Chris DalyDavid Liggins and Michael Scott have investigated the prospects for religious fictionalism.

Philosophy of science and maths

  • Thomas Uebel - the philosophy of science of Mach, Poincare, Duhem, Rey and the logical empiricists, and also in the scientific realism debate.
  • Chris Daly - a number of areas in philosophy of science, especially as they overlap with issues in metaphysics and the philosophy of language.
  • Ann Whittle and Helen Beebee - causation and the laws of nature.
  • John O’Neill - the philosophy of economics
  • Thomas Uebel - the philosophy of economics and social science generally.
  • Cynthia Macdonald - the nature of explanation in the special sciences.
  • David Liggins - the philosophy of mathematics. He is particularly interested in providing an attractive fictionalist alternative to platonist accounts of mathematics.
  • Chris Daly - fictionalism and mathematics.
  • Michael Scott and Graham Stevens - the relation between theism and mathematical realism.

Social and political philosophy

  • John O’Neill co-directs the Political Economy Institute, and has research interests in political theory and philosophical aspects of political economy and environmental policy. He is currently working on intellectual property rights and theories of well-being.
  • Thomas Smith - the metaphysics and ethics of social groups and institutions.
  • Thomas Uebel - the philosophy of social science, in particular issues concerning methodological individualism and value neutrality. He is currently working on Neurath’s philosophy of social science.

See also