University of Reading
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 2000
London, London, City of, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  •  522
    Essay writing and exam preparation
    with Elizabeth Burns
    In Elizabeth Burns & Stephen Law (eds.), Philosophy for AS and A2, Routledge. 2004.
  •  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
  •  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.
  •  248
    Real Love
    The Philosophers' Magazine 29 (29): 63-66. 2005.
    The idea that love is one of the most fundamental forces in the world, if not the most fundamental force, has a long and influential history. But does the idea of a fundamental connection between love and reality have a future? Can it hold any meaning for us if, for example, we do not believe in God? I want to offer some speculative thoughts that it can, thoughts that derive from a philosophical reflection on psychoanalysis. My central claim is that love reveals and points us toward reality, tha…Read more
  •  248
    What Reason Can't Do
    In N. Athanassoulis & S. Vice (eds.), Morality and the Good Life, Palgrave Macmillan. 2008.
    The aim of this paper to analyse the central argument of Cottingham’s (1998) Philosophy and the Good Life, and to strengthen and develop it against misinterpretation and objection. Cottingham’s argument is an objection to ‘ratiocentrism’, the view that the good life can be understood in terms of and attained by reason and strength of will. The objection begins from a proper understanding of akrasia, or weakness of will, but its focus, and the focus of this paper, is the relation between reason a…Read more
  •  215
    Book review of Dancy, J., "Ethics Without Principles" (review)
    Philosophical Quarterly 55 (221). 2005.
    Book review
  •  179
    How are we to distinguish between appropriate emotional responses that reveal morally salient reasons and inappropriate emotional responses that reflect our prejudices? It is often assumed that reason – considered as distinct from emotion – will make the distinction. I argue that this view is false, and that the process by which emotional responses are vetted involves ‘emotional self-awareness’. By this, I mean feeling an emotion, being aware of so doing, and feeling some usually subtle emotiona…Read more
  •  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'.
  •  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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  103
  •  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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  66
    Can non-theists appropriately feel existential gratitude?
    Religious Studies 52 (2): 145-165. 2016.
    Does it make sense for non-theists to feel gratitude for their existence? The question arises because gratitude is typically thought to be directed towards a person to whom one is grateful. Hence the theist may be grateful to God for their existence, experienced as a gift. But can the non-believer feel something similar without being irrational? Can there be gratitude for existence but not to anyone? After analysing gratitude and how we can best understand the idea of non-directed gratitude, I d…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
  •  54
    Philosophy for A2: Unit 4
    Routledge. 2009.
    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
  •  41
    Inferring Motives in Psychology and Psychoanalysis
    Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 19 (3): 197-212. 2012.
    Grünbaum argues that psychoanalysis cannot justify its inferences regarding motives using its own methodology, as only the employment of Mill’s canons can justify causal inferences (which inferences to motives are). I consider an argument offered by Hopkins regarding the nature and status of our everyday inferences from other people’s behavior to their motives that seeks to rebut Grünbaum’s charge by defending a form of inference to the best explanation that makes use of connections in intention…Read more
  •  37
    Philosophy, academic philosophy, and philosophy for children
    The Philosophers' Magazine 69 90-97. 2015.
    A Platonic dialogue, an undergraduate lecture, an enquiry in philosophy for children (P4C): Are all three activities "philosophy"? Is there a difference between doing philosophy and studying philosophy? What is the importance of philosophy in each guise, and how might the different guises relate to the aims of "teaching" philosophy? Drawing on the work of Bernard Williams, I suggest that doing philosophy involves making sense of our lives, and that this requires a wider knowledge base than tradi…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.
  •  32
    Ever since Freud, psychoanalysts have explored the connections between psychoanalysis and literature and psychoanalysis and philosophy, while literary criticism, social science and philosophy have all reflected on and made use of ideas from psychoanalytic theory. The Academic Face of Psychoanalysis presents contributions from these fields and gives the reader an insight into different understandings and applications of psychoanalytic theory. This book comprises twelve contributions from experts …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
  •  23
    _Revise Philosophy for AS Level_ is the definitive revision guide for students of the Advanced Subsidiary level syllabus. Following the AQA syllabus, it helps students revise using past exam questions, examiner's reports, and tips on revision for the examination. Also included are a helpful glossary and annotated further reading. It covers all three units of the AS Level syllabus: Unit 1: Theory of Knowledge Unit 2: Moral Philosophy and Philosophy of Religion Unit 3: Texts. The four set texts ar…Read more
  •  23
    Philosophy for AS is an accessible textbook for the new 2014 AQA Advanced Subsidiary Philosophy syllabus. Structured closely around the AQA specification this textbook covers the two units, Epistemology and Philosophy of Religion, 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 philos…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