Funded projects

Cognition in Science

EU Marie Curie Fellowship

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Photo of Dr Adam Toon

Dr Adam Toon

Senior Lecturer (Philosophy)


Office: FF14 in Byrne House
Office hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 10-11am

Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes

I work in philosophy of science. I am especially interested in scientific modelling, the nature of representation in science and the role of material culture in scientific reasoning.

To address these issues, I draw on work in the history and sociology of science, as well as my own empirical studies. I also make use of perspectives from epistemology, philosophy of art, philosophy of mind and cognitive science.

I joined the Department of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology at Exeter in the autumn of 2013. I am also a member of Egenis, the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences.

Before coming to Exeter, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Bielefeld in Germany.

I did my PhD in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge (supervised by Prof. Martin Kusch). Before that, I studied for a BA in Natural Sciences at King’s College, Cambridge and an MSc in Philosophy and History of Science at the London School of Economics.

Research group links

Research interests

My previous work has focused on scientific modelling. I recently wrote a book on modelling, Models as Make-Believe: Imagination, Fiction and Scientific Representation (Palgrave Macmillan), in which I suggest that models function as props in games of make-believe, like children’s dolls or toy trucks. To develop this idea, I draw on work in philosophy of art, especially debates over the nature of fiction and the ontology of fictional entities, pictorial representation and imagination in art.

My current research focuses on the role of material culture in scientific reasoning. Recent work in cognitive science reveals that many cognitive tasks are performed not by internal thought processes alone, but by the interaction of the brain, body and environment. I am interested in the implications of this work for a range of issues in philosophy of science, such as debates over scientific realism and the role of social factors in science. From 2013 to 2015 I worked on a project in this area funded by a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship.

I am also a member of the Extended Knowledge Project hosted by the Eidyn research centre at the University of Edinburgh.

Research supervision

I am interested in supervising PhD projects relating to any of my research interests, including topics in philosophy of science (e.g. scientific modelling, representation in science, material and social dimensions of scientific practice) and philosophy of mind (e.g. distributed cognition, the extended mind thesis, mental fictionalism).

Please send me an email if you'd like to talk about PhD supervision or discuss potential topics. My email address is a.toon@exeter.ac.uk

Research students

PhD students:

Ric Sims - Thesis title: "Models, Maps and Distributed cognition"

Necmiye Akcali - Thesis title: "A Representation of External Philosophy: The Association between Extended Cognition, Language and Philosophical Arguments"