Interdisciplinary research on the nature of philosophy Interdisciplinary research on the nature of philosophy

Investigating metaphilosophic concepts and the nature of philosophy itself, our research in this area proceeds from different perspectives and incorporates a broad range of themes.
Topics in the Metaphilosophy research theme include:
  • Experimental philosophy including the Sources Project: explaining and assessing philosophical intuitions;
  • The development of methods and perspectives for ‘naturalised' philosophies of mind and language, epistemology and metaphysics
  • The development of alternative (e.g. ‘non-theoretical' and ‘therapeutic') conceptions of philosophy in the wake of Wittgenstein
  • Reflection on alternative media of philosophical reflection, including literature and film
Our research in this area is often interdisciplinary, involving work with colleagues from other departments, e.g. Psychology, Language and Communication Studies and Literature. We provide a vibrant research environment for staff and students alike.
Recent and forthcoming events include the eighth annual conference of the Experimental Philosophy Group UK (15-16 July 2017), presented with the support of the Mind Association and the Analysis Trust. The major theme for this year will be "Alternative Methods in Experimental Philosophy - Beyond the Questionnaire".
We welcome applications from Postgraduate students wishing to work on any of the above research topics. Please contact Eugen Fischer if you would like to pursue doctoral work with us.

Academic members working in this area

Two UEA philosophers have just co-authored an introduction to empirically informed current debates in metaphilosophy:

Eugen Fischer and John Collins (2015): 'Rationalism and naturalism in the age of experimental philosophy'. In E. Fischer and J. Collins (eds.): Experimental Philosophy, Rationalism, and Naturalism, Routledge, pp. 3-33

Prof John Collins has a keen interest in meta-philosophical issues, especially as they bear on his first-order interests in the philosophies of language and mind. Collins is especially concerned with the various doctrines (metaphysical and methodological) associated with the general label of 'naturalism' and how they inform notions of what would count as an adequate philosophical account. (See page)

Key publications

Collins, John 2015. 'Against Metaphysical Naturalism'. In E. Fischer & J. Collins (eds.), Experimental Philosophy, Rationalism, and Naturalism: Rethinking Philosophical Method (pp. 85-109). London: Routledge

Collins, John 2009. Naturalism in the philosophy of language; or why there is no such thing as language. In S. Swayer (ed.), New Waves in Philosophy: Philosophy of Language. Palgrave-Macmillan, London, pp. 41-59.

Dr Eugen Fischer works on the explanation and assessment of philosophical intuitions. He has analysed how pictures and metaphors shape automatic thought in philosophical settings. With the help of concepts derived from cognitive linguistics and psychology, he has conducted case-studies on the genesis of intuitions and problems about the mind and perception. This includes experimental work with psycholinguist Paul Engelhardt and computational linguist Aurelie Herbelot. Some of the results vindicate and facilitate the project of ‘therapeutic philosophy'. His second chief interest is to explain where and why a kind of cognitive therapy is required in philosophy and to develop methods to put it into practice. (See page)

Key publications
Fischer, Eugen 2014. 'Philosophical Intuitions, Heuristics, and Metaphors'. Synthese 191, pp. 569-606.
Eugen Fischer, Paul Engelhardt, and Aurelie Herbelot 2015. 'Intuitions and illusions. From explanation and experiment to assessment'. In: E. Fischer and J. Collins (eds.): Experimental Philosophy, Rationalism, and Naturalism, Routledge, pp. 259-292.
Fischer, Eugen 2011. Philosophical Delusion and its Therapy. New York; Routledge (paperback 2013)

Dr Oskari Kuusela spells out in his recent work a way to make sense of the later Wittgenstein's conception of philosophy as devoid of theses, explaining Wittgenstein's conception as a response to the problem of dogmatism in philosophy and to other problems relating to conceptions of the status of philosophical statements. The claim is that this view leads to an increase in the flexibility of philosophical thought without loss in its rigour. He has also articulated on this basis a novel way to employ transcendental arguments that resolves certain problems relating to such arguments. (See page)

Key publications
Kuusela, Oskari (forthcoming) ‘The Methodological Significance of Intuitions in Philosophy’. In James Conant and Sebastian Greve (eds.), Wittgenstein and Philosophical Traditions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kuusela, Oskari 2013. 'Logic and Ideality: Wittgenstein's Way beyond Apriorism, Empiricism and Conventionalism in the Philosophy of Logic'. In Nuno Venturinha (ed.), The Textual Genesis of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, pp. 93-119.

Prof Catherine Rowett has published on issues relating to the nature of philosophical discourse and enquiry, and particularly the role of the imagination and non-propositional understanding. She defends the idea that philosophical approaches that exclude the imagination and the erotic, and focus solely on cool reason, misconstrue problems not just in ethics but in metaphysics and philosophy of mind (see also page: published as Catherine Osborne until 2011).

Key publications  
 Rowett, Catherine 2013. 'Philosophy's numerical turn: why the Pythagoreans' interest in numbers is truly awesome.' in Doctrine and Doxography: Studies on Heraclitus and Pythagoras (Sozomena volume 14) (eds.) Dirk Obbink and David Sider, De Gruyter, 3-32.   
Rowett, Catherine 2015. ‘Factual Mistakes, epistemological virtues and moral errors: a study in Augustine’s Confessions’ in Sophie Grace Chappell (ed.) Intuition, theory and anti-theory in ethics, Oxford University Press, 127-150.