University of Reading
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 2000
London, London, City of, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  •  13
    A Truthful Way to Live? Objectivity, Ethics and Psychoanalysis
    Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 85 175-193. 2019.
    Is there a best way to live? If so, is this a form of ethical life? The answer, I believe, turns on what we can say about the nature and place of the passions – emotions and desires – in our lives, including in particular, our ability to be truthful about our passions and our relations with other people. I approach the question through the work of Bernard Williams. I consider first what it might be for a way of life to be ‘objectively’ best, before looking more closely at the psychological condi…Read more
  •  32
    In Philosophy, psychoanalysis and the a-rational mind, Brakel focuses her discussion on the nature of primary process, and its relation to a range of philosophical views. While the discussion, and Brakel’s project, is both original and much-needed in the philosophy of psychoanalysis, in the end, I found the book disappointing. The arguments and connections are repeatedly indicative rather than deeply and cogently unified into a coherent whole.
  •  165
    Introduction: Know thyself
    In Richard Gipps & Michael Lacewing (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychoanalysis. pp. 1-22. 2019.
    In this introduction to the Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychoanalysis, we provide an overview of the promise and problems of connecting philosophy and psychoanalysis through a focus on the age-old theme central to both disciplines, 'know thyself'.
  •  95
    I review the debate between ‘realist’ and ‘constructivist’ understandings of the psychoanalytic unconscious. To oversimplify, realists hold that unconscious mental states exist in the analysand’s mind fully formed and with determinate intentional content, independent of consciousness, and these are discovered in analysis. Constructivists (including relationalists and intersubjectivists) hold that the unconscious meaning of clinical material does not exist ‘pre-organised’ in the analysand’s mind,…Read more
  •  23
    Evidence, Inference and Causal Explanation in Psychoanalysis
    Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 25 (2): 119-122. 2018.
    In my paper, 'The science of psychoanalysis,' I make two assumptions. First, I assume that a 'hermeneutic science' is not a contradiction in terms. Second, I assume that explanations of why someone behaved as they did in terms of motives are a form of causal explanation, and therefore that inferring what someone's motives are from their behavior is a form of causal inference. In his commentary, Gipps objects to both of these assumptions, and this gives me the opportunity to clarify them. Followi…Read more
  •  22
    Statistics, Desire, and Interdisciplinarity
    Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 19 (3): 221-225. 2012.
    I am very grateful to both Edward Erwin and Peter Fonagy for their thoughtful and engaging comments. I do not have space to deal fully with all the issues they raise, but I will try to clarify some key points at which perhaps I implied more than I intended, or failed to be clear. Erwin states that I claim the following principle is a method for inferring causes: “if X is causally relevant to the occurrence of Y, then the incidence of Ys in the class of Xs and Ys will be different compared with t…Read more
  •  18
    The Science of Psychoanalysis
    Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 25 (2): 95-111. 2018.
    Can psychoanalysis take its place in the science that is psychology? I want, for now, to put aside the therapy, and ask about the theory, its evidence and generation. For at the heart of psychoanalysis as theory and therapy is a theory about the nature, development, and functioning of the human mind, especially in relation to motives. There are a number of features of this theory, in particular the role and nature of unconscious mental states and processes, that makes it recognizably distinct an…Read more
  •  1
    Philosophy for A2: Unit 4 is the definitive textbook for students of the current AQA Advanced Level syllabus for philosophy. Structured very closely around the AQA specifications for Unit 4: Philosophical Problems, Michael Lacewing helps students to engage with and understand the arguments of the five key texts: Hume's An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding Plato's The Republic Mill's On Liberty Descartes' Meditations Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil . All chapters are helpfully subdivided in…Read more
  • Philosophy for AS _and A Level _is an accessible textbook for the new 2017 AQA Philosophy syllabus. Structured closely around the AQA specification this textbook covers the two units shared by the AS and A Level, Epistemology and Moral Philosophy, in an engaging and student-friendly way. With chapters on 'How to do philosophy', exam preparation providing students with the philosophical skills they need to succeed, and an extensive glossary to support understanding, this book is ideal for student…Read more
  •  1
    _Philosophy for A Level_ is an accessible textbook for the new 2017 AQA Philosophy syllabus. Structured closely around the AQA specification this textbook covers the two units Metaphysics of God and Metaphysics of Mind, in an engaging and student-friendly way. With chapters on 'How to do philosophy', exam preparation providing students with the philosophical skills they need to succeed, and an extensive glossary to support understanding, this book is ideal for students studying philosophy. Each …Read more
  •  269
    Roger Trigg, Philosophy Matters (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002) (review)
    Think 1 (3): 107-111. 2003.
    The fundamental premise of Trigg's book is that philosophy is an irreplaceable discipline, and Trigg seeks to defend it from the Scylla of scientism and the Charibdis of relativism. His bold tone will engage many readers in the challenges he discusses.
  •  9
    Philosophy for A2: Unit 3 is the definitive textbook for students of the current AQA Advanced Level syllabus. Structured very closely around the AQA specifications for Unit 3: Key Themes in Philosophy, it introduces the student to each of the core themes: philosophy of mind political philosophy epistemology and metaphysics moral philosophy philosophy of religion. All chapters are helpfully subdivided into short digestible passages, and include: quiz questions to test core knowledge discussion qu…Read more
  •  93
    Psychoanalysis, emotions and living a good life
    Think 12 (33): 41-51. 2013.
    ExtractThe central question of ethics is ‘How should I live?’. It covers not only actions, but more broadly, our reactions and our characters, questions of what we should feel and how we should be as people. This has been the central concern of theories of virtue. Aristotle claimed that a virtue is a character trait that enables us to ‘stand well’ in relation to our desires and emotions. To be virtuous with regard to a type of emotion – anger, sadness, joy, fear, etc. – is to feel that type of e…Read more
  •  131
    In this article, I provide a guide to some current thinking in empirical moral psychology on the nature of moral intuitions, focusing on the theories of Haidt and Narvaez. Their debate connects to philosophical discussions of virtue theory and the role of emotions in moral epistemology. After identifying difficulties attending the current debate around the relation between intuitions and reasoning, I focus on the question of the development of intuitions. I discuss how intuitions could be shaped…Read more
  •  522
    Essay writing and exam preparation
    with Elizabeth Burns
    In Elizabeth Burns & Stephen Law (eds.), Philosophy for AS and A2, Routledge. 2004.
  •  6
    Philosophy for A2: Unit 3 is the definitive textbook for students of the current AQA Advanced Level syllabus. Structured very closely around the AQA specifications for Unit 3: Key Themes in Philosophy, it introduces the student to each of the core themes: philosophy of mind political philosophy epistemology and metaphysics moral philosophy philosophy of religion. All chapters are helpfully subdivided into short digestible passages, and include: quiz questions to test core knowledge discussion qu…Read more
  •  141
    Do unconscious emotions involve unconscious feelings?
    Philosophical Psychology 20 (1): 81-104. 2007.
    The very idea of unconscious emotion has been thought puzzling. But in recent debate about emotions, comparatively little attention has been given explicitly to the question. I survey a number of recent attempts by philosophers to resolve the puzzle and provide some preliminary remarks about their viability. I identify and discuss three families of responses: unconscious emotions involve conscious feelings, unconscious emotions involve no feelings at all, and unconscious emotions involve unconsc…Read more
  •  418
    The psychology of evil: a contribution from psychoanalysis
    In Pedro Alexis Tabensky (ed.), The Positive Function of Evil, Palgrave-macmillan. 2009.
    It has often been noted that evil – by which I mean evil in human motivation and action – is difficult to understand. We find it hard to make sense of what ‘drives’ a person to commit evil. This is not because we cannot recognise or identify with some aspect of the psychology of evil; we all experience feelings of envy, spite, cruelty, and hatred. But somehow this shared experience can seem insufficient, and we are left at a loss as to how such natural, universal human motivations could have res…Read more
  •  71
    Philosophy for AS is the definitive textbook for students of the current AQA Advanced Subsidiary Level. Structured closely around the examination specifications, it covers the two units of the AS Level in an exceptionally clear and student-friendly style. As an invitation to philosophy, the book encourages and enables students to engage philosophically with the following syllabus topics: reason and experience Why should I be governed? Why should I be moral? the idea of God persons knowledge of t…Read more
  •  14
    _Philosophy for A2_ is an engaging textbook for the new AQA A2 Philosophy syllabus. Structured closely around the AQA specification this textbook covers the two units, Ethics and Philosophy of Mind, in a comprehensive and student-friendly way. All of the anthology texts are explained and commented on and woven into the discussion of the syllabus. With chapters on ‘How to Do Philosophy’ and exam preparation this textbook provides students with the philosophical skills they need to succeed. Each c…Read more
  •  57
    Emotion, Perception, and the Self in Moral Epistemology
    Dialectica 69 (3): 335-355. 2015.
    In this paper, I argue against a perceptual model of moral epistemology. We should not reject the claim that there is a sense in which, on some occasions, emotions may be said to be perceptions of values or reasons. But going further than this, and taking perception as a model for moral epistemology is unhelpful and unilluminating. By focusing on the importance of the dispositions and structures of the self to moral knowledge, I bring out important disanalogies between moral epistemology and typ…Read more
  •  103
  •  19
    Review of Marcia Cavell, Becoming a Subject (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2006 (10). 2006.
    Marcia Cavell’s recent book is the continuation of a ‘conversation between philosophy and psychoanalysis’ in which she has been engaged for some time. Her previous monograph, The Psychoanalytic Mind (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), was a powerful and sustained argument in favour of an interpretation of psychoanalysis and children’s mental development informed by a broadly Davidsonian perspective on mind and meaning. Her theme in Becoming a Subject is the nature of self, which she…Read more
  •  9
    Philosophy for A2: Unit 4 is the definitive textbook for students of the current AQA Advanced Level syllabus for philosophy. Structured very closely around the AQA specifications for Unit 4: Philosophical Problems, Michael Lacewing helps students to engage with and understand the arguments of the five key texts: Hume's An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding Plato's The Republic Mill's On Liberty Descartes' Meditations Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil . All chapters are helpfully subdivided in…Read more
  •  108
    Emotion and cognition: Recent developments and therapeutic practice
    Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 11 (2): 175-186. 2004.
    As is widely known, the last 25 years have seen an acceleration in the development of theories of emotion. Perhaps less well-known is that the last three years have seen an extended defense of a predominant, though not universally accepted, framework for the understanding of emotion in philosophy and psychology. The central claim of this framework is that emotions are a form of evaluative response to their intentional objects, centrally involving cognition or something akin to cognition, in whic…Read more
  •  28
    The problem of suggestion in psychoanalysis: An analysis and solution
    Philosophical Psychology 26 (5): 718-743. 2013.
    From its inception, psychoanalysis has been troubled by the problem of suggestion. I defend an answer to the problem of suggestion understood as a methodological concern about the evidential basis of psychoanalytic theory. This purely methodological approach is relatively uncommon in discussions in psychoanalysis. I argue that suggestion in psychoanalysis is best understood in terms of experimenter expectancy effects. Such effects are not specific to psychoanalysis, and they can be corrected for…Read more