I work on a variety of topics within applied philosophy and ethics. My current research activity spans neuroethics, medical ethics, moral emotions, philosophy of punishment and criminal justice. Here’s how I ended up in my current position:
I completed my BA in Philosophy, Psychology and Physiology (PPP) at the University of Oxford. I took the maximum number of philosophy papers, finding myself especially interested in topics in philosophy of mind, ethics and epistemology. Within psychology, my primary focus was on social psychology, and the psychology of emotions in particular.
I then took the MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice, where I became interested in theoretical criminology, the sociology of punishment, penal theory and sentencing. It was during this time that I began to think about moral emotions and their relevance in the criminal justice system.
I completed my DPhil in Law on the topic of remorse and retributive penal theory. The central question of my thesis was whether it is possible, within a retributive penal framework, to justify mitigation of the remorseful offender’s sentence, on the grounds of her remorse.
Bringing together my interests in philosophy, psychology and law, my first post-doctoral research position was on the Enhancing Responsibility Project, associated with Delft University of Technology. The aim of this project was to examine the relationship between cognitive enhancement and professional responsibility. The development of drugs that promote wakefulness or improve concentration raise interesting moral and policy questions relating to whether some professionals – such as surgeons or pilots – might have a duty to take them.
My current research position is associated with the Oxford Martin School’s Progamme on Mind and Machine, and the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. The aim of this project is to examine various brain intervention and interface technologies, from brain stimulation devices, to optogenetics, to virtual reality and immersive technologies. My research examines the ethical, legal and social implications of these technologies.
Other professional activity
I am serving on the Human Brain Project’s Ethics Advisory Board.
I am a member of the ‘Horizons’ Special Interest Group of the European Commission’s Working Group on New and Emerging Technologies.
I am a lay member of Thames Valley Police Complaints, Integrity and Ethics Panel