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The University of Southampton
PhilosophyPart of Humanities


Research in Philosophy at Southampton is thriving as evidenced by the number of current and recent research projects hosted by the department, including major AHRC funded projects on Nietzsche and on Normativity. These projects reflect most of our current research interests and specialisms:

AHRC funded 'Normativity: Epistemic and Practical'

What should I do? What should I think? For as long as there has been philosophy, philosophers have investigated questions like this. Traditionally, ethicists tackle the first question, while epistemologists tackle the second. This division of labour corresponds to a distinction theorists draw between practical and epistemic normativity, where normativity is a matter of what one should or may do, what one has reason or justification to do, or what it is right or wrong to do, not simply of what one in fact does. So conceived, practical normativity concerns how one should act, while epistemic normativity concerns how one should think.

Staff: Dr Daniel Whiting, Dr Jonathan Way, Dr Conor McHugh

Agency and Autonomy: Kant and the Normative Foundations of Republican Self-Government

Dr. Sasha Mudd and co-investigator Dr. Lucas Thorpe (University of Bogazici) have been awarded a British Academy Advanced Newton Fellowship for a two-year project that will investigate Kant's contributions to Republican political philosophy in light of his understanding of autonomy and human agency.

Staff: Dr Sasha Mudd, Dr Lucas Thorpe

Cultural and Social Ontology

Philosophers have tended to study the ontology of cultural artefacts (e.g., works of art) and the ontology of social objects and constructions (e.g., institutions and money) independently. With a few rare exceptions, there has been almost no attempt to bring these topics under a single theoretical umbrella. Indeed, people working in one area often seem entirely unaware of research in the other. Yet it is easy to see that many of the puzzles raised in the two areas are fundamentally similar, and might admit of similar solutions. With that in mind, the goal of our project will be to bridge these two areas, paving the way for a unified ontology of social and cultural objects.

Staff: Dr Lee Walters, Dr Kurt Sylvan

Ethics and Emotion

The revival of philosophical interest in the emotions over the past half-century has lead to a re-affirmation of their importance in ethical life. Particularly rich has been the retrieval of guilt and shame as central features of moral self-regulation. Contemporary philosophical work on these topics continues to draw from a variety of sources, and debates remain lively, if divisive.

Staff: Dr Sasha Mudd

Nietzsche and Modern Moral Philosophy

We recently completed a £300K Arts and Humanities Research Council project, titled Nietzsche and Modern Moral Philosophy, which brought together leading philosophers in the fields of Nietzsche scholarship and contemporary ethics with the aim of assessing, and finding responses to, the challenge that Nietzsche's critique continues to pose to modern moral philosophy.

Staff: Professor Christopher Janaway, Professor Aaron Ridley

Philosophy of Pregnancy and Early Motherhood

Although philosophers have explored some issues related to pregnancy – most obviously abortion and the value and metaphysics of coming into existence – little philosophical attention has been paid to pregnancy itself. That is a remarkable omission because pregnancy and early motherhood raise many interesting and important philosophical problems. Southampton Philosophers are tackling these overlooked questions in a series of research projects that are funded by, amongst other, the European Research Council and the Templeton Foundation. This research project also engages with health care practitioners and policy makers to translate its outcomes into real-world improvements for women and their babies.

Staff: Dr Elselijn Kingma, Dr Fiona Woollard

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