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An Investigation of Pragmatic and Epistemic Benefits of Factually Erroneous Cognitions in the Non-Clinical Population

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  • Full or part time
    Prof L Bortolotti
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Professor Lisa Bortolotti is leading a project funded by the European Research Council – PERFECT (“Pragmatic and Epistemic Role of Factually Erroneous Cognitions and Thoughts”). PERFECT aims to establish whether cognitions that are inaccurate can ever be good for us from an epistemic point of view. Can delusional beliefs, distorted memories, confabulatory explanations, which are frequent in the non-clinical population and also listed as symptoms of psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia and dementia, have redeeming epistemic features? PERFECT is expected to lead to a revision of the methodological and epistemological framework dominant in contemporary analytic philosophy; impact on psychological research into effects of psychiatric disorders on cognition; inform clinical interventions on people with psychiatric disorders featuring inaccurate cognitions as symptoms; and contribute to challenging everyday conceptions of mental illness as radically discontinuous from ‘normal’ human cognition.

The Post

This award includes funding for one full-time PhD project studentship to begin on 1st October 2016. The award covers tuition fees and a stipend of £15,000 per annum.

The student will examine the potential epistemic benefits of inaccurate cognitions in the non-clinical population in the recent philosophical and empirical literature; co-author with the PI (Professor Lisa Bortolotti, Philosophy) and the Co-I (Dr Michael Larkin, Clinical Psychology) a research article providing an overview of epistemic benefits of inaccurate cognitions in the non-clinical population; co-organise the meetings scheduled in years 3-5 of the project; disseminate preliminary outcomes via participation in national and international graduate conferences and seminars; and contribute to the project Twitter feed, blog, and website.

The student should have an excellent first degree (Philosophy or Psychology), and a Masters degree in Philosophy (with a dissertation in Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Psychology, Philosophy of Psychiatry, or Epistemology). Applications from candidates interested in interdisciplinary research are especially welcome. Candidates must be able to demonstrate competence in philosophical argumentation, an interest in empirically-informed research, and excellent communication skills.

Studentships will be supervised by Professor Lisa Bortolotti (Philosophy) and Dr Michael Larkin (Psychology).

To apply, please send a C.V. and a 5000-word writing sample, together with a covering letter outlining your suitability for the studentship and the names of two referees to Lisa Bortolotti ([Email Address Removed])

Interviews will be conducted in March 2016.

Funding Notes

The successful applicant will benefit from:

- A fully-funded three-year PhD (tuition fees plus stipend of £15,000 per annum) in a leading UK university
- Guidance from leading experts in the field and research training from the University of Birmingham Graduate School
- Work space and resources to attend and present at conferences
- A vibrant research environment in the Department of Philosophy and School of Psychology, including public lectures, workshops and conferences, weekly research seminars with external speakers and weekly graduate seminar.

Informal enquiries may be addressed to Lisa Bortolotti (email: [Email Address Removed]). See also the project website at

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Philosophy?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 14.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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