University of Nottingham
University of Leeds



Lybia, ancient roman portrait - mosaic

Project participants

Paul Bloom  Tamar Szabó Gendler Dominic McIver Lopes Kendall Walton
Michael Bristol   Stacie Friend Chris McManus Jonathan Weinberg
Roberto Casati Paul Harris Kevin Mulligan Deena Weisberg
Fabian Dorsch John Hyman Jesse Prinz Deirdre Wilson
Whitney Davis Sherri Irvin Amie Thomasson  
Andy Egan Jerrold Levinson Blakey Vermeule  

Paul Bloom, Psychology, Yale
PAUL BLOOM is a professor of psychology at Yale University. His research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on morality, religion, fiction, and art. He has won numerous awards for his research and teaching. He is past-president of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, and co-editor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, one of the major journals in the field. He has written for scientific journals such as Nature and Science, and for popular outlets such as The New York Times, the Guardian, and the Atlantic. He is the author or editor of four books, including How Children Learn the Meanings of Words, and, most recently, Descartes' Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human. He is currently writing a book about pleasure. [more]

Michael Bristol, English, McGill
Michael Bristol is currently Greenshields Professor Emeritus in the Department of English at McGill University in Montreal, where he has taught since 1970.  He received his AB in English at Yale University in 1962, where he wrote a senior thesis under the supervision of Harold Bloom.  After completing his PhD at Princeton in 1966 he was appointed Assistant Professor of English at the University of Illinois.  While teaching at the University of Illinois he was active in The Depot, Inc. a Center for Experiment in Art and Ideas; he directed a number of plays by Shakespeare, Marlowe, Samuel Beckett, among others.  His publications include Carnival and Theater: Plebeian Culture and the Structure of Authority in Early Modern England (1986) and, more recently Big-Time Shakespeare (1996).  His current research is concerned with problems of character and moral agency in Shakespeare's plays.  He is the editor of Shakespeare and Moral Agency, a volume of essays to be published by Continuum Books. [more]

Roberto Casati, Institut Jean Nicod

Roberto Casati (Milan, Italy, 1961) is a tenured senior researcher with the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). He is based in Paris, France. He studied with Andrea Bonomi and Giovanni Piana in Milan, Italy, where he got his PhD (on Events) in 1992. He also holds a PhD from the University of Geneva, Switzerland (on Secondary Qualities, 1991), under the direction of Kevin Mulligan. He has worked on various research projects on philosophy of perception, in particular under the direction of Barry Smith, and has taught at several universities, among which the State University of New York at Buffalo. Most recently he has been visiting professor at the Università IUAV, Venice, and at the Univeristy of Turin. He is the recipient of various prizes and of grants from several institutions, including CNRS, MENRT, and the European Commission. He has been the responsible, for Institut Nicod, of the Enactive Network of Excellence (IST-2002-002114).

Casati has published on journals such as Analysis, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Studia Leibnitiana, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Perception, Trends in Cognitive Science, Journal of Visual Language and Computing, Dialectica, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Philosophical Studies, Philosophical Psychology. This somewhat nonstandard spread reflects Casati's interdisciplinary interest as a philosopher of the cognitive sciences, focussed on the psychological status of commonsense notions (such as that of object, event, colors, sounds, and holes and shadows) and the proper methodology for studying these notions. Having received a parallel education as a graphic designer, Casati is also interested in issues in the cognitive study of art.

Casati has a long-standing collaboration with Achille Varzi of Columbia University; they have co-authored 18 papers, co-edited 3 volumes, and written together the classic Holes and Other Superficialities (1994), and Parts and Places (1999), both published with MIT Press, as well as two books for the general public (containing stories for grown ups and children, respectively): Unsurmountable Simplicities, translated in 8 languages, and The Planet of Disappearing Things. He has also collaborated with Jérôme Dokic of EHESS on La philosophie du son, Chambon 1994, and is currently working with Vittorio Girotto (IUAV, Venice) on a project on counterintuitive solutions.

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Whitney Davis, Art History, University of California Berkeley
Whitney Davis is Professor of History & Theory of Ancient & Modern Art at the University of California at Berkeley, where he also directs the Arts Research Center.  He is a specialist in prehistoric and ancient arts and their reception in the ancient world, in theories of imaging and picturing, and in the use of algorithms and notations to produce to virtualizations, whether ancient canons of proportions, early modern perspective projection systems, or contemporary "new media."  He is the author of three forthcoming books: Forms of Likeness and the General Theory of Visual Culture; Sexuality and Aesthetics from Winckelmann to Freud and Beyond; Visuality and Virtuality: Art Theory in World Art History from Ancient Egypt to New Media.  Current projects include a reevaluation of "compunotational" artifacts produced in prehistoric (supposedly preliterate) cultures; continuing studies of nonstandard sexuality in the fine arts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; and examination of "metaoptical" (e.g., computational) aspects of ostensibly "visual" representations. [more]

Fabian Dorsch, Philosophy, Freiburg

Fabian Dorsch is a lecturer at the University of Fribourg and research fellow of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF). He is author of The Unity of Imagining (forthcoming 2009 with Ontos Publishing House)
and is working on a book on the relationship between phenomenal consciousness and the rationality and normativity of mental phenomena. His other research interests include perceptual experience, self-knowledge, rational motivation, aesthetic evaluation, and the role of perception and imagination in aesthetic experience. He is also a co-founder and the current secretary of the European Society for
Aesthetics. [more]

Andy Egan, Philosophy, Michigan

Ande Egan's research is focused on three themes: the role of self-locating content in thought and language, rationality (in action, and in the formation and revision of belief), and the nature of pretense and imagination.  Recently, I've been particularly interested in two projects in, or at least connected to, analytical aesthetics:  The first of these is trying to get a grip on the nature of normative and aesthetic thought and talk, and the extent to which making use of the idea of self-locating representation can help us to provide satisfying cognitivist accounts of them.  The second is looking at ways to think about the cognitive architecture that underwrites our capacity for imagination, and for imaginative engagement with fiction.

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Tamar Szabó Gendler, Philosophy, Yale
Tamar Szabó Gendler’s  research focuses primarily on issues in epistemology, philosophical psychology, metaphysics and aesthetics.  She is currently working on a cluster of problems surrounding the relation between imagination and belief, including issues about the nature of imagination, fictional emotions, self-deception, and truth in fiction. Other recent work has concerned topics in metaphysics and epistemology including conceivability and possibility, the essentiality of origin, personal identity, and the methodology of thought experiment. [more]

Stacie Friend, Philosophy, London
Stacie Friend's research is at the intersection of aesthetics, philosophy of language, and mind and psychology, especially as these pertain to problems raised by our imaginative and emotional engagement with fictional narratives. Current projects include an account of 'reading in a category' that explains the role of classification in literary appreciation by appeal to the psychological mechanisms involved in adopting a reading strategy, and theory of fiction that construes the distinction between fiction and non-fiction as a distinction between genres, where genres function as heuristics to focus readers' attention on salient aspects of the text. Dr Friend's publications have addressed such issues as emotional responses to fictional characters, the meaning of empty names, the acquisition of knowledge from fictional texts and the possibility of tragic pleasure from documentaries. 
Dr Friend is a member of the Executive Committee of the British Society of Aesthetics and co-chair of the Society's 2009 Annual Meeting, as well as faculty advisor to the London Aesthetics Forum, a series of invited talks sponsored by the BSA and the Institute of Philosophy. She lectures at Heythrop College, University of London.

Paul Harris, Graduate School of Education, Harvard
Paul Harris is interested in the early development of cognition, emotion, and imagination. His most recent book, The Work of the Imagination, gathered together several years of research carried out at Oxford University, where he taught developmental psychology. Currently, he is is the Victor S. Thomas Profess or Education at Harvard University where he is conducting research in two areas. First, he is studying whether children rely on their own firsthand observation or alternatively trust what other people tell them—especially when they confront a domain of knowledge in which firsthand observation is difficult. For example, many aspects of history, science, and religion concern events that children cannot easily observe for themselves. How far do children believe what they are told about these domains? When and how do they become aware of the conflicting claims made by science as compared with religion? Second, he is studying children’s understanding of mental states, including emotional states. He is particularly interested in the extent to which children’s access to conversation about psychological matters influences their understanding of emotion. [more]

John Hyman, Philosophy, Oxford,
John Hyman is Professor of Aesthetics in the University of Oxford and Fellow and Senior Tutor of The Queen's College.  He is Editor of the British Journal of Aesthetics and a member of the Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy.  He was a Getty Scholar at the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, in 2001-2002, and a Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in 2002-2003.  He is the author of The Imitation of Nature (Basil Blackwell, 1989) and The Objective Eye: color, form and reality in the theory of art (Chicago, 2006) and editor of Investigating Psychology, (Routledge, 1991; Italian translation Ubaldini, 1994), Agency and Action (with H. Steward, CUP, 2004), Wittgenstein and Analytic Philosophy (with H.-J. Glock, OUP, 2009), and A Companion to Wittgenstein (with H.-J. Glock, Blackwell-Wiley, 2011).

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Sherri Irvin, Philosophy, University of Okalahoma
Sherri Irvin is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oklahoma.  She holds a PhD in philosophy from Princeton University and an MS in clinical psychology from Rutgers University.  Her interests in aesthetics range widely, with current projects focusing on the ontology of art, the philosophy of contemporary art and the aesthetics of the everyday.  Recent publications include “Scratching an Itch” in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism and “The Pervasiveness of the Aesthetic in Ordinary Experience” in The British Journal of Aesthetics. [more]

Jerrold Levinson,  Philosophy, University of Maryland
Jerrold Levinson (PhD, Michigan) is Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy. His main philosophical interest is aesthetics, with strong secondary interests in metaphysics, ethics, and philosophy of mind. Among the arts he is particularly concerned with philosophical problems arising in connection with music, film, and literature. Levinson has written extensively on the definition of art, expression in music, emotional response to art, the nature of literary interpretation, and the ontology of artworks. Topics of recent interest include intrinsic value, humor theory, sexual morality, vocal jazz improvisation, and the varieties of visual beauty. Levinson held a research fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1980, was co-director of an NEH Summer Institute in 1991 and director of another such Institute in 2002, and has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism since 1993. Levinson has been visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, the University of London, the University of Canterbury (New Zealand), the Université de Rennes (France), the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), the Unversidade de Lisboa (Portugal) and the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana (Switzerland). Many of his papers have been reprinted in recent anthologies of aesthetics, and several have been translated into other languages. Levinson is Past President of the American Society for Aesthetics, 2001-2003, and was general editor of the Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics (Oxford UP, 2003). In September 2007 Levinson was an invited fellow of the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University, where he gave a series of lectures and a concert. During the academic year 2008-2009 Levinson is Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the University of Kent in Canterbury. [more]

Dominic McIver Lopes, Philosophy, University of British Columbia
Dominic Lopes is Associate Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Distinguished University Scholar and Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia. He works mainly in aesthetics and is a member of UBC's aesthetics group. His research focusses on pictorial representation, perception, the aesthetic and epistemic evaluation of pictures, theories of art and the ontology of art, computer art and new art forms. This year, he is finishing up a book on computer art and a papers on the theory of art and its value, empathy in art, aesthetic testimony through art and demonstrative reference through pictures. Lopes is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism and co-edits Blackwell's New Directions in Aesthetics book series. He has served as a Trustee of the American Society for Aesthetics and as program chair of its annual and Pacific Division meetings. He was also program chair of the 2005 APA Pacific Division Meetings and is Secretary-Treasurer of the American Philosophical Association Pacific Division. Lopes is past fellow of the National Humanities Center and an Associate of the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. He holds Indiana University Teaching Excellence Awards and the 1997 Philosophical Quarterly Essay Prize. [more]

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Chris McManus has a PhD in psychology and also qualified as a doctor (and still works in several medically related areas and is a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of London and of Edinburgh, and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences). He is currently Professor of Psychology and Medical Education at University College London. His interest in experimental aesthetics, which he has long-called ‘an academic hobby’ began as an undergraduate when Nicholas Humphrey supervised a project extending Fechner’s seminar nineteenth-century work on aesthetic preferences for rectangles and other simple geometric figures. Those studies are still continuing, with a particular interest in the very large but reliable individual differences that are found. Subsequent experimental work has also looked at more complex and hence more substantively aesthetic images, including a study of the paintings of Mondrian, which manipulated the positions of the lines and showed that ordinary subjects have a significant preference for original Mondrians over pseudo-Mondrians. Recent work has concentrated on the problem of composition, particularly looking at the role of framing and cropping in photography, which are aesthetic tasks that non-expert subjects carry out naturally and intuitively. Finally, in the past few years work with the Royal College of Art and the Art School of Swansea Metropolitan University has studied the nature of representational drawing, the cognitive processes underlying it, and the reasons that some otherwise very talented art students have troubles with drawing. [more]

Kevin Mulligan, Philosophy, Geneva
Kevin Mulligan has taught analytic philosophy at the University of Geneva since 1986. In 2005 he became one of the two Deputy-Directors of the interdisciplinary Swiss centre for research in affective science (NCCR) and runs the THUMOS project on the relations between emotions and values within the NCCR. Recent and forthcoming publications include and edited book of essays on Musil, and various essays on value and the emotions. [more]

Jesse Prinz, Philosophy, CUNY/UNC Chapel Hill
Jesse Prinz is a distinguished professor of philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. In addition, he is a research professor here at UNC/Chapel Hill, where he will continue to work closely with graduate students and serve on thesis committees. Prinz has research interests in cognitive science, philosophy of psychology, philosophy of language, moral psychology, and aesthetics. His first three books are: Furnishing the Mind: Concepts and Their Perceptual Basis (MIT: 2002), Gut Reactions: A Perceptual Theory of Emotion (OUP: 2004), and The Emotional Construction of Morals (OUP: 2007).  He also has two forthcoming titles: Beyond Human Nature (London: Penguin; New York: Norton) and The Conscious Brain (Oxford).  He has published numerous articles on concepts, emotions, morals, consciousness, and other topics. [more]

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Amie Thomasson, Philosophy, University of Miami
Amie Thomasson (Ph.D., University of California-Irvine), Professor and Parodi Senior Scholar in Aesthetics. Her areas of specialization are in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, phenomenology, and philosophy of art. She is the author of Ordinary Objects (Oxford University Press, 2007), Fiction and Metaphysics (Cambridge University Press, 1999), and co-editor (with David W. Smith) of Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind (Oxford University Press, 2005).  In addition she has published numerous book chapters and articles on topics including metaontology, fiction, philosophy of mind and phenomenology, and the metaphysics of artifacts, works of art and other social objects. She is currently working on problems regarding modality, existence questions, and the methods of metaphysics. [more]

Blakey Vermeule, English, Stanford
Blakey Vermeule's research interests are British literature from 1660-1800, critical theory, cognitive approaches to literature, major British poets, post-Colonial fiction, and the history of the novel. She is the author of The Party of Humanity: Writing Moral Psychology in Eighteenth-Century Britain. She is currently working on the manuscript of her second book, Making Sense of Fictional People: A Literary and Cognitive Project, which blends historical and literary analysis with cognitive psychology. [more]

Kendall Walton, Philosophy, University of Michigan
Kendall Walton is the Charles L. Stevenson Collegiate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan. His Marvelous Images: On Values and the Arts (OUP) appeared in 2008. Another volume of essays, In Other Shoes: Music, Empathy, Metaphor, Existence (also OUP),  is forthcoming. He is currently working on empathy, the relation between fictionality and imagination, and narrators or personae in poetry and music. His "Aesthetics: What?, Why?, and Wherefore?"  (Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 65/2) addresses issues about methodology in philosophical aesthetics, and its relation to empirical studies. [more]

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Jonathan Weinberg, Philosophy, Indiana
Jonathan Weinberg works in the philosophy of mind/cognitive science, epistemology, and aesthetics. He is also a practitioner of experimental philosophy, and directs the 'Experimental Epistemology Laboratory', which investigates the psychological bases of the intuitions of philosophers and laypersons. His recent papers have concerned such topics as: the concept of innateness in cognitive science; using psychological accounts of the imagination to solve various philosophical problems about fictions; epistemologists' appeals to intuitions about esoteric cases (co-authored with other members of EEL); and a pragmatist proposal for how one might do epistemology without relying overly much on such intuitions.

Deena Weisberg, Psychology, Rutgers
Deena Skolnick Weisberg is a postdoctoral research associate at the Rutgers University Center for Cognitive Science. She received her BS in cognitive science from Stanford University (2003) and earned her PhD in psychology at Yale University (2008). Weisberg's research focuses primarily on the cognitive skills underlying the creation and representation of non-real scenarios, such as fictional stories, pretend games, and counterfactuals, and on how these skills arise and mature over the course of development. A related research project examines children's ability to reason about others' beliefs ("theory of mind") and the role that this ability plays in making judgments about others' actions. Weisberg has also conducted research on the ways in which adults misinterpret scientific findings, especially those of neuroscience. Her work has been published in a variety of scholarly journals, including Cognition, Developmental Science, The Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, and Science. [more]

Deirdre Wilson, Linguistics, UCL
Deirdre Wilson is Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at University College London and a research professor at the Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature, University of Oslo. Her main research interests are in theoretical pragmatics: her long-standing collaboration with Dan Sperber (e.g. Relevance: Communication and Cognition, Blackwell, 1986/95) has led to publications on a wide variety of pragmatic topics, from disambiguation and reference resolution to rhetoric and style. She is currently co-director (with Herman Cappelen) of the Linguistic Agency project at CSMN, Oslo, and has recently completed (with Robyn Carston) an AHRC project ‘A Unified Theory of Lexical Pragmatics’. Her novel Slave of the Passions (Picador, 1991) was shortlisted for two awards, and she is working (very slowly) on a second. [more]

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