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Personal profile

Biography

I came back into education at a quite late point in my life, having worked at a variety of other jobs, from manual to clerical and business. I started taking Open University courses in my 30s with a view to building upon my interest in English Literature at school, but was side-tracked by a growing interest in philosophy, so that I ended by graduating in 1989 with a first-class degree that was primarily in philosophy with a literature minor. I built upon this interest by taking a part-time MA in philosophy at Birkbeck College in London, commuting there from darkest Essex two or three times a week in the days when British Rail still ran the trains. (And ran them pretty well.) Having taken my MA, achieving a distinction with a dissertation on personal identity, and having been made redundant from my last accounting job, I took the money and ran off to Norwich to take a PhD, writing a thesis on personal identity and the philosophy of Derek Parfit, which I did under the supervision of Nick Everitt. (My examiners, Martin Hollis and Bernard Williams, were kind enough to pass the thesis, so I achieved my doctorate in 1997.)

I taught for the School of Economic & Social Studies, the School of Philosophy and then the School of Politics, Philosophy and Language & Communications Studies, between 1994 and my retirement in 2017, sometimes on a part-time basis and occasionally as a full-time teacher. In addition, I taught philosophy for The Open University between 1999 and 2017, and introductory humanities for them from 2001 to 2008. (I have been a mentor and monitor of other teachers for the OU, and have also engaged in their programme of supplying teachers for OU philosophy students in prison.) And I taught and organised philosophy evening classes for adults for the School of Continuing Education (as it then was) at UEA from 2001 to 2008 on their Certificate and Diploma of Philosophy programmes, until such time as government funding changes forced the closure of these and many other adult education programmes.

In addition to teaching, I have held a number of other administrative roles. At UEA I was the School of Philosophy Undergraduate Admissions Officer, and also the PHI Teaching Director, relinquishing the latter post in the summer of 2014. I was responsible for the maintenance of the Martin Hollis archive, and was also joint editor of the now-defunct in-house journal UEA Papers in Philosophy. I also acted as an examiner for the Open University, and have been an external examiner for the University of Cambridge's continuing education programme.

I have also been a freelance editor, copy-editor, proof-reader and index, having helped to bring about the publication of Critical Thinking by Alec Fisher and Michael Scriven, Rousseau by Timothy O’Hagan, Trust Within Reason by Martin Hollis, Philosophy of Social Science by Martin Hollis, The New Hume Debate by Rupert Read & Kenneth Richman, Invitation to Philosophy (2nd edition) by Martin Hollis, and so on. 

Since my retirement, I have continued to research and write in various areas of philosophy.

Additional Contacts: Academia.edu Personal Page
 

Key Research Interests and Expertise

Core topics: Personal identity and the philosophy of Derek Parfit, critical thinking & conspiracy theories, thought experiments, film and philosophy, philosophy of religion.
 

List of Publications

As a teaching rather than research-active member of staff, I was not expected to produce publications to the standard REF schedule.  In the last few years I have produced a number of reviews, and an article in a collection which was put together by myself and Rupert Read. I have a forthcoming article and am working on other projects. But much of my writing, including a long project on the relationship between philosophy and film, was aimed at providing teaching material for my students. (Whether it could or should be published more widely remains to be seen, though I am now working on certain aspects of this material.)
 
September 2005 ‘A Philosopher Goes To The Cinema’, in Read & Goodenough (eds.) Film As Philosophy.
 March 2011 "The Trouble With Thought Experiments" Theoretical & Applied Ethics, Vol 1 No 2.
July 2012 "I Think You Ought To Know I'm Feeling Very Depressed', in Philosophy & The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, (Palgrave Macmillan) 

Teaching Interests

Current Teaching

I have now retired from teaching. Below is a list of the modules and subjects I used to teach at UEA:

First Year

  • Modern Readings in Philosophy
  • Philosophical Problems
  • Classic Readings in Philosophy
  • Social & Political Theory

Honours Level

  • The Enlightenment
  • Empiricists & Rationalists 
  • Nietzsche
  • Film as Philosophy
  • Political Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Theories of Knowledge
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Final Year Special Subject Module: Personal Identity

 

MA Level

  • Critical Theories of the Western Self (past)
  • Supervised study and dissertation modules

I have also supervised a large number of dissertations on an enormous range of topics at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, and was for over ten years organiser of the undergraduate dissertation programme.

 

Open University

At the Open University, I taught on the introductory humanities programme for 8 years, and on the core second-level philosophy module for 19 years.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, UEA

Award Date: 1 Jan 1997

Master of Arts, Birkbeck University of London

Award Date: 1 Jan 1991

Bachelor of Arts, Open University

Award Date: 1 Jan 1989

External positions

External Examiner, University of Cambridge

2016

Associate Lecturer, Open University

Feb 19992017

Examiner, Open University

19992017