Social Philosophy

Social Philosophy is one of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology’s main research areas. Our work in this field encompasses a rich and diverse range of substantive theoretical concerns, all of which focus on some aspect of social life and intersubjectivity. Our approach is informed by various philosophical traditions, including ancient Greek philosophy, analytic philosophy, phenomenology and philosophical anthropology. We draw on all these areas to address a variety of contemporary and urgent themes that are philosophically challenging, and at the same time also have immediate relevance for our lives as social beings, in our daily interactions as well as in relation to broader economic, scientific, technological and cultural events.

More specifically our work focuses on:

The critique of contemporary socio-economic relations

Investigating the ethical limits of economic growth. Dr Edward Skidelsky's recent book on the subject, co-written with his father Robert, How Much is Enough? Money and the Good Life, has been translated into 15 languages worldwide.

Applied ethics

Particularly in the realms of food, medicine and cultural consumption, but with an emphasis on morally problematic areas such as the Holocaust, slavery and animal rights

Wittgensteinian social philosophy and ethics

The central theme is the investigation of ways in which Wittgenstein's distinctive philosophical methodology can stimulate and guide basic questions on:

  • The nature of the social world, social phenomena and social interaction (social ontology).
  • Problems in ethics, both in relation to moral and metaethical theory and to substantive normative and practical inquiry on particular substantive issues.

The department enjoys a close association with the British Wittgenstein Society.

Human nature and post-humanism

Researchers investigate what it means to be human and how we position, or should position, ourselves in relation to the nonhuman (animals and machines). Traditional understandings of the human-nonhuman relationship are being questioned, and proposals for radical human enhancement are critically assessed with respect to their ethical and social implications and consequences, as in Prof Michael Hauskeller’s most recent book Better Humans? Understanding the Enhancement Project

The embodied and situated mind

Research in this area addresses questions about the nature of cognition, emotion, consciousness, empathy, and intersubjectivity, with special emphasis on the central role of the body and the environment, including other people.