Dr Sam Clark

Dr Rachel Cooper

Dr Sam Fellowes

Dr Gavin Hyman

Dr Neil Manson

Professor Stephen Wilkinson

Dr Garrath Williams

Dr Nicola Williams

Dr VY Allison-Bolger



Sam Clark

I am interested in the self; in good and bad lives it might lead; in its reflexive powers and practices; in the roles of experience, reflection, and institutions in its development and success; and in how to do philosophy so as to advance our understanding of these issues.

These interests intersect with the philosophy of medicine, psychology, and psychiatry in leading me to think about well-being, ill-being, lived experience, self-realization, self-knowledge, self-interpretation, and self-making.

My current work is philosophy of and through autobiography. As part of it I have published articles in journals including Inquiry, Ratio, Res Publica, and The Journal of Applied Philosophy, and in the Blackwell Companion to John Stuart Mill. I am currently writing a book about autobiography and well-being under the working title Good Lives.

I have a particular interest in martial autobiographies. I am a founder of the Lancaster Martial Lives Network, an interdisciplinary network of scholars interested in the lives, experiences, and life-writing of people who have lived through war. I am also co-PI, with Liz Brewster (FHM, Lancaster) of Military Lives and Transformative Experiences, a two-year empirical project funded by the Royal British Legion, which investigates the self-narrations and well-being of older military veterans through workshops and qualitative interviews.

For more details and links to publications please see my university webpage

Rachel Cooper

My research focuses on conceptual issues related to classification in psychiatry, and on concepts of health and disease. My PhD is in History and Philosophy of Science, and I often use historical investigation to clarify and resolve conceptual problems. I try to engage with the real concerns of researchers in mental health, and hope that my work will affect scientific practice. As a consequence, although I conceive of my research projects as fundamentally philosophical (in so far as my aim is to clarify and resolve conceptual problems within psychiatry), I publish work in a wide range of journals (philosophy, history of psychiatry, psychiatry, and clinical psychology).

My most recent book, Diagnosing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Karnac, 2014), examines issues with the DSM-5, the latest edition of the classification of mental disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association. My earlier monograph Classifying Madness (Springer, 2005) also concerns philosophical problems with psychiatric classification. I am also very interested in problems having to do with the concept of disorder. I am trying to work out what makes a condition count as a disorder, as opposed to a moral failing, or normal variation. I have written widely on this problem, and hope to finish off a book on the issue in the next couple of years. My other major publications include Psychiatry and the Philosophy of Science (2007, Acumen) which examines the ways in which psychiatric science is like and unlike more established sciences.

I have research interests in a wide range of areas in the philosophy of psychiatry, and am always keen to hear from potential PhD students. Mainly I am interested in all issues to do with the classification of psychopathology, but I am also currently thinking about a range of other topics, including: culture bound syndromes, the role of metaphysics in philosophy of psychiatry, social anxiety disorder, hoarding disorder, applying extended mind approaches to psychopathology, the replication crisis, values in science, service-user led research in mental health, Adolf Meyer, the role of diagnosis in psychiatry, vices and disorder, narrative and psychopathology.

For more details and links to publications please see my university webpage

Sam Fellowes

I have a Research Fellowship at Lancaster University, funded by the Wellcome Trust. I am interested in the metaphysical and epistemological status of psychiatric diagnosis. I am interested in the current crisis over the validity of psychiatric diagnosis, the scepticism that currently employed psychiatric diagnosis are disease entities and new project like RDoC which may take a non-disease entity approach. Since it is unclear what a non-disease entity approach would look like I am developing a non-disease entity approach through drawing upon philosophy of science, specifically recent work on modeling, perspectivism and neo-Kantianism. I am also interested in the epistemological status of psychiatric diagnosis which I study through the scientific realism debate in the philosophy of science. I am both a philosopher of psychiatry and a historian of autism. I often heavily integrate both within my work, such as employing history as evidence to make scientific realist or anti-realist arguments.

For more details and links to publications please see my university webpage

Gavin Hyman

I am interested in philosophy and religious thought, especially in Hegel and the continental tradition more generally. These interests have in turn led to an interest in psychoanalytic thought, and I have published in this area, and also teach a postgraduate module on ‘Religion and Psychoanalytic Thought.’ I am particularly interested in Freud and post-Freudian psychoanalytic thinkers, such as Georges Bataille, Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, Slavoj Zizek and especially Michel de Certeau, whose life and thought is to be the subject of my next book.

For more details and links to publications please see my university webpage

Neil Manson

Neil C. Manson studied philosophy at King’s College London, University College London and Corpus Christi College Oxford. From 1998 to 2005 he was a fellow of King’s College Cambridge. Since 2005 he has been at Lancaster University.

My current research interest is consent: what is it? How does it work? What does it require to work? These broad questions have an application in a wide range of areas, including medical ethics – see recent papers on adolescent consent, biobank consent, research ethics, consent to organ donation. My work with Onora O’Neill on some of these topics can be found in Rethinking Informed Consent in Bioethics (CUP, 2007). I am currently working on a number of papers on philosophical aspects of consent – some to do with the “fundamentals” of consent, and some to do with topics in the applied philosophy of consent.

I’m a great believer in the idea that philosophers should try to say, and do, things that take them beyond the insular world of the “academy”. I’m currently chair of the Society for Applied Philosophy (and have been involved with the Society, and its journal, the Journal of Applied Philosophy for many years now). I’ve also been involved in a wide variety of applied philosophy discussions, workshops, and committees. I’m currently a member of the (UK) Medical Research Ethics Committee “Ethics, regulation, and public involvement committee”.

For more details and links to publications please see my university webpage

Stephen Wilkinson

Stephen Wilkinson’s most recent research is on reproductive ethics and the regulation of reproductive technologies, especially the ethics of selective reproduction (practices that involve choosing between different possible future people). A book on this topic (Choosing Tomorrow’s Children, Oxford University Press) was published in 2010.

A previous phase of work focused on the commercial exploitation of the human body and culminated in his first book, Bodies for Sale (Routledge, 2003).

He has also written on various other ethics topics including: biomedical research, conjoined twins, futility, mental illness, passive euthanasia, and resource allocation.

He is the holder of a Wellcome Senior Investigator Award (jointly with Professor Rosamund Scott of King’s College London) on reproductive donation (

For more details and links to publications please see my university webpage

Garrath Williams

My research interests fall across ethics, political theory and applied ethics. One of my main interests, in all three of these areas, is in the many facets of the concept of responsibility. In ethics, I also work on Kant, and in political theory, I have a special interest in Hannah Arendt. In applied ethics, I have been involved in collaborative research on children, health and public policy, including the EU-funded project I.Family which investigated diet and health-related behaviours in a large cohort of families across Europe. I also work on ethical issues in collaborative design of public services, and have worked on ethical issues in biomedical research.

For more details and links to publications please see my university webpage

Nicola Williams

Nicola Williams joined the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at the University of Lancaster in September 2014. Her research background is in the fields of Philosophy and Politics and her main academic interests lie in questions of reproductive ethics, personal identity and intergenerational justice. She graduated from The University of Reading in 2008 with a BA in Politics and Philosophy, The University of York in 2010 with an MA in Practical Ethics, and The University of Manchester in 2015 with a PhD in Bioethics and Medical Jurisprudence.

She is currently working on the Wellcome Funded Project: The Donation and Transfer of Reproductive materials and her most recent research has thus focused on ethical questions surrounding human reproductive tissue donation and, more specifically, on the ethics of uterine transplantation. Her other recent research focuses on questions of pre-natal harm, social and distributive justice, and reproduction.

For more details and links to publications please see my university webpage


VY Allison-Bolger

A psychiatrist by training I got my PhD in Philosophy from Lancaster in 2015 having been supervised by Rachel Cooper and Brian Garvey.

My thesis was “Why are some delusions incorrigible?”. Using the methods of ordinary language philosophy and Wittgenstein (OLPW) I identified incorrigible delusions as a class of claims which patients insist are true because they are statements about real events. I went on to show the logic patients use to defend these beliefs in the face of counter argument.

My longstanding interest is in psychopathology of psychosis and applying methods of OLPW to what people with psychosis say. Two strands follow from this – a more nuanced understanding of the experience of psychosis, and different approaches to classification of psychoses.

I am working on a paper on psychoses as a diagnostic category,  and on cultural implications for diagnosis of delusions. Currently I am working on a textbook of psychopathology informed by these ideas. The working title is “Describing Psychosis”.

Contact VY Allison-Bolger through Rachel Cooper (

John Appleby

I work on theoretical and applied issues in moral and political philosophy. The majority of my work is applied to issues (e.g. ethics, policy and regulation) in science and medicine, especially reproduction (e.g. the ethics of the donation of reproductive materials). I am currently conducting research on a number of topics in the field of reproduction / reproductive donation, including: gamete and embryo donation; mitochondrial replacement techniques / mitochondrial donation (aka ‘three person IVF’); artificial gametes/in-vitro derived gametes; and ectogenesis. In addition, I am researching the ethics of organoids, biofabrication and gene editing technologies (e.g. CRISPR).

Some of the philosophical concepts and themes I am exploring both on their own and in relation to the above topics, include: trust, hope, privacy, identity, the nature of children’s welfare, the value/significance of genetic relatedness; the value/significance of genetic information and the regulation of ‘radically’ new biotechnologies.

For an up to date list of my publications please see my university webpage:

Reuven Brandt

Dr. Reuven Brandt earned his PhD in philosophy at The University of Western Ontario, Canada, in 2015.  He then took up a post-doctoral position at Lancaster University, examining ethical and legal questions pertaining to assisted reproduction.   Reuven is currently as Assistant Professor at the University of California, San Diego where his research focuses on reproductive ethics, with a particular interest in the acquisition and distribution of rights and responsibility in complex reproductive arrangements.  His current primary project is to develop a unified account of the ways different kinds of involvement in reproduction result in different obligations to offspring.  He is also interested in ethical questions pertaining to the development and regulation of reproductive technologies.