Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I supervise postgraduate students in the following areas:

Philosophy of Psychology (belief, delusion, confabulation, distorted memory, rationality, cognitive biases, agency)

Philosophy of Psychiatry (classification and diagnosis, psychiatric ethics, notion of mental disorder, youth mental health).

Currently I am supervising the following students:

Rosa Ritunnano
Aneela Khan
Kathleen Murphy-Hollies
Chloe Bamboulis
Jane Kisbey
Rafael Ambriz Gonzalez
Jessica Sutherland
Lucy Prior
Joseph Houlders
Noorit Larsen
Lou Teyssedou
Aisha Qadoos

The following students have successfully completed:

Andrew Wright (The Problems of Pain), viva passed in February 2015.
Andrew Woodhall (Addressing Anthropocentrism in Nonhuman Ethics), viva passed in December 2016.
Isaura Peddis (Empathy as an Emotion), viva passed in September 2017.
Rachel Gunn (Delusions and Affective Framing), viva passed in November 2017.
Magdalena Antrobus (Epistemic and Psychological Benefits of Depression), viva passed in November 2017.
Ben Costello (Moral Sequencing and Intervening to Prevent Harm), viva passed in December 2018.
Alex Miller Tate ('Radical' Cognitive Science and Philosophical Psychopathology: The case of depression), viva passed in February 2019.
Matilde Aliffi (Epistemic Rationality of Emotions: A new defence), viva passed in April 2019.
Markella Grigoriou (Blunted affect, social withdrawal and suicide in Schizophrenia), viva passed in November 2020.
Federico Bongiorno (Strange Beliefs: Essays on delusion formation), viva passed in November 2020.
Valeria Motta (Being Present in Times of Absence: A Philosophical and Empirical Enquiry on Loneliness and Solitude), viva passed in December 2020.
Eugenia Lancellotta (Can delusions be adaptive? The case of OCD), viva passed in October 2021.


Research activity per year

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Personal profile


Before joining the Philosophy Department at the University of Birmingham as a Lecturer in 2005, I was Honorary Lecturer in Bioethics in the Centre for Social Ethics and Policy at the University of Manchester and Research Associate on the EC-funded EU-RECA (on the concept of research and the ethical regulation of research activities) coordinated by Professor John Harris. Since at Birmingham, my research and teaching has focused on the philosophy of the cognitive sciences (rationality and belief).

I am the author of two textbooks, Introduction to the philosophy of science (Polity, 2008) and Philosophy of Psychology: An Introduction (Polity, 2021, with Kengo Miyazono); two monographs, Delusions and Other Irrational Beliefs (OUP, 2009) and The Epistemic Innocence of Irrational Beliefs (OUP, 2020); and a key concepts book, Irrationality (Polity, 2014). In 2011 I was awarded the American Philosophical Association Book Prize for the 2009 monograph on delusions. 

I edited three volumes, Philosophy and Happiness (Palgrave, 2009); Psychiatry as Cognitive Neuroscience: Philosophical Perspectives (OUP, 2009, with Matthew Broome) which was listed among the Guardian Books of the Year in 2009; and Delusions in Context (Palgrave, 2018) with contributions by Philip Corlett, Richard Bentall, Rachel Upthegrove, and myself. Delusions in Context is available open access. 

Research interests

My research topics include: theories of belief ascription, rationality debate in philosophy and cognitive science, rationality and self knowledge in psychopathology, delusions and confabulation, psychological realism, autonomy and personhood, demarcation between science and pseudoscience, research ethics, reproductive ethics, animal rights, death and immortality. More recently, I got interested in theories of delusion formation, in the relationship between having a diagnosis of mental illness and being morally responsible for one's actions, in the phenomena of positive illusions and unrealistic optimism, and in the notion of disorder in the philosophy of medicine.

I am currently working on a project funded by UKRI on Agency, Justice, and Social Identity in Youth Mental Health, led by Rose McCabe at City University.

For 5 years (2014-2019), I led a project called PERFECT,  Pragmatic and Epistemic Role of Factually Erroneous Cognitions and Thoughts, funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant (EUR 1.900.065). The project allowed me to build a team of post-doctoral researchers and PhD students. Michael Larkin (Psychology, Aston University) was involved as a co-investigator. PERFECT featured in the Birmingham Heroes campaign on research that matters in November 2015 (on mental illness) and November 2017 (on youth mental health).

From September 2015 for 12 months I was on a non-residential fellowship (20%, $76,299) for a project entitled "Costs and Benefits of Optimism" as part of a funding initiative on Hope and Optimism supported by the Templeton Foundation and managed by Cornell University and the University of Notre Dame.

From September 2013 for twelve months I was funded by an AHRC Fellowship to pursue a project entitled "The Epistemic Benefits of Imperfect Cognitions". 

In 2012 I was awarded a Wellcome Trust Small Grant in the Ethics & Society stream on Moral Responsibility and Psychopathology which funded a workshop on the topic in March 2013. Co-applicants were Matthew Broome (University of Oxford) and Matteo Mameli (King's College London).

From January to June 2011 I was funded by a Wellcome Trust Research Expense Grant for a project on Rationality and Sanity. 

In 2009 I was awarded AHRC research leave for a project on the nature of clinical delusions, and an Endeavour Research Fellowship (offered by the Department of Education, Employment and the Workplace Relations of the Australian Government) to work with Professor Max Coltheart and other members of the Belief Formation group at Macquarie University.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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