Photo of Dr Adam Toon

Dr Adam Toon

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

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"