I am a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Royal Holloway, University of London. I teach practical ethics, logic, philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychiatry, philosophy of language, and early modern philosophy, and I supervise students writing (undergraduate or postgraduate) dissertations in ethics, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and political philosophy.
Before coming to Royal Holloway, I was Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics and Programme Manager of the Oxford Loebel Lectures and Research Programme, both of which are part of the University of Oxford's Faculty of Philosophy. Before that, I was James Martin Research Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute, which is part of Oxford's Faculty of Philosophy and also part of the Oxford Martin School. My time at Oxford dates back to 2006, but is broken up by a 3½-year career break in which I had two children.
I have broad philosophical interests, spanning ethics, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language (for the specifics, see the Research and Presentations sections of this site). My main project at the moment is a book about swearing, which will eventually be published with Oxford University Press. My side-projects include articles on the value of minority languages, the temporal knowledge asymmetry, and the ways in which technological advances might change our punishment and justice practices. Sometimes my research appears in the media. You can listen to my Philosophy Bites podcast interview about swearing here, and to my Philosophy 24/7 podcast interview about the ethics of passive aggression here. There is an interview with me in Aeon about punishment here. You can see more media coverage of my work under Media and Blog. I am represented by Peter Buckman of The Ampersand Agency.
Since 2013 I have been an Associate Editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics, and since 2007 I have been a contributor to Oxford's Practical Ethics: Ethics in the News blog. My posts can be found here.
I have an MPhil and a PhD in philosophy from the University of Cambridge, where I was supervised by Prof. D.H. Mellor and Prof. Jane Heal. In my MPhil thesis I argued that objects are composed of temporal parts. In my PhD thesis I considered the conceptual possibility of beings that (like us) have rich mental lives, can self-refer, and are self-conscious and self concerned, but (unlike us) are not persons.
I have a BA and an MA in philosophy from the University of Leeds, where I worked mainly on issues in philosophy of time, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science. While there, I worked a lot with Prof. Robin Le Poidevin, who now enjoys the status of my most long-standing philosopher friend, and whose support has been invaluable over the years (especially during time the time I spent outside academia).
I was born and raised in Pembrokeshire, south Wales. I am learning, belatedly, to speak Welsh. I now live in Oxfordshire. When I am not philosophising or spending time with my children, I write fiction. I have written two bad novels and one decent one, and have started fiddling around with the next. Away from the computer, I like knitting, and I run regularly, although not very fast. I might also be the oldest person in the world to own Heelys.
Click here to read about my career/life lowlights