Individual Research Initiatives

Oliver Curry – The Evolution of Human Moral Sentiments

Oliver Curry is a post-doctoral researcher in the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford, and a Research Associate in the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science at the London School of Economics. Oliver completed his Ph.D. in 2005 in the Department of Government at LSE. His thesis argued that morality could be seen as the product of a suite of 'adaptations for cooperation' that evolved to solve the problems of cooperation and conflict recurrent in the lives of our ancestors. He is currently engaged in a number of empirical projects testing evolutionary theories of human social behaviour, including work on trust, fairness and coalition formation. (For more information, see: 

Tom Dickins – Misconceptions in the Human Evolutionary Behavioural Sciences

Tom Dickins is a Reader in Evolutionary Psychology at the University of East London. Tom has published on the evolution of language, evolutionary constraints on cognitive architecture, sexual orientation and aggression, fertility scheduling in humans and theoretical aspects of the human evolutionary behavioural sciences. His initial project in the Centre was on information, inheritance and evolution. This resulted in a number of publications. Now, in a continuation of the initial project, he is working on issues around epigenetic inheritance and niche construction. As a part of his role at CPNSS, Tom convenes the Work in Progress Group every Monday evening in term time. This group consists of evolutionary behavioural scientists from around London who meet to discuss core theoretical aspects of their work. 

Philippe Fontaine – Cross-disciplinary research ventures in postwar American social science

Philippe Fontaine is Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics and Management at the École normale supérieure de Cachan and a Senior Fellow of the Institut universitaire de France. He was in the Philosophy Department at LSE as Ludwig Lachmann Research Fellow from 2003 to 2005. He is currently a Research Associate at the Centre for the Philosophy of Natural and Social Science. His principal research interest is the history of postwar social science (especially economics, sociology and political science). His publications include The History of the Social Sciences since 1945 (2010) and The Unsocial Social Science? Economics and Neighboring Disciplines since 1945, both co-edited with Roger Backhouse. In 2010-2011, together with Roger Backhouse, he will be organising a seminar series on the history of post-war social science and working of cross-disciplinary research ventures in American research universities since 1945. He also is convenor for the: Seminar series: History of Postwar Social Science Seminar

Jeremy Hardie – Rationality, Transparency and Accountability

Jeremy Hardie was until 1975 an academic economist, and then until 1999 in business and public life in a variety of companies and institutions in Britain. He is now a Research Associate at the CPNSS. Drawing on his experience outside academia his research concentrates on the relationship between rationalist theories of deciding, and the role of intuition, judgment, expertise and emotion. This work spans theories of practical reason, the insights of experimental psychology, and the practicalities of decision making in business and government. Its main focus is on the conflict between the need for accountability and transparency in public life and the complexity of how decisions are made, which cannot be reduced even ex post facto to the operation of systematic, explicit, rational procedures. Project: Rationality, Transparency and Accountability  Contact details: email    Peter Sozou works mostly in theoretical biology. Much of his work has a close connection to economic theory. His recent work includes problems concerned with discounting the future, ageing, and signalling in courtship.

Hayo B. E. D. Krombach – Towards the Nonduality of Peace: A Phenomenological Study of Interculturalism East-West

This large-scale and long-term book project inquires into the philosophical framework conditions of the possibility of peace. The title takes its cue from Kant’s essay ‘Towards Perpetual Peace’. The term ‘towards’ suggests as a perennial dialogical task a methodological path that for Western epistemological, that is, in our case, phenomenological, reasons has to be taken ‘as if’ universal peace actually existed. It indicates a teleological approximation of the idea of peace but paradoxically and therefore helplessly not the fulfilled promise of its entelechy. Being thus elusive and in content indeterminate, peace pertains for ever more to mythos than to logos.

The Eastern intuition of the ‘nonduality’ of peace is the reason for exploring the structure of oriental thinking about individual reality- and self-experience. But human self-realisation must of necessity manifest itself and is ultimately embedded in international relations and our understanding of their global consequences for a humanity that strives towards being in harmony with itself. The thinking towards a philosophia pacis, which is grounded in the consciousness that everything is connected, contains a cognitive challenge to the very notion of philosophy. What therefore informs intercultural concerns is a world-contextual or axial-age awareness of the existential fragility of mankind in the nuclear and ecological age. While thematically more comprehensive, the intellectual remit of this research stands in close proximity to earlier articles and the book Hegelian Reflections on the Idea of Nuclear War: Dialectical Thinking and the Dialectic of Mankind (London: Macmillan and New York: St.Martin’s Press, 1991) – all translated and published in Japan as well. 

As a presupposition for meeting its goal, and for the educational purpose of awakening and listening to other voices, the present project traces and elucidates Hindu, Daoist, and Buddhist traditions of all-unity thinking and the way it comes to language in Indian, Chinese and Japanese poetry and philosophy. Critically also, and unlike sociological inter-faith studies, transition sections do not take an interculturally comparative quid facti or political, practical and devotion-oriented approach. Rather, they deal with the quid iuris or theoretical and justification-based contrast between Western dualist Abrahamic or monotheistic religions of salvation as explained with reference to linear causality and Asian forms of world-immanent and hence nondual secular spirituality of liberation as described in terms of the causal principle of dependent origination.

Several spring research periods have been spent in Japan. These were privately and co-financed by the LSE, the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and the Japan Foundation. The universities studied at were: Senshu University (Tokyo), International Christian University (ICU) (Tokyo), Komazawa University (Tokyo), Sophia University (Tokyo), University of Tokyo, and University of Kyoto. Annual private or research-related visits to Japan were accompanied by lectures given at these institutions and at the Nihon University in Tokyo and the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken) in Kyoto. Lectures at universities in Japan will be offered in future years as well.



Hayo B.E.D. Krombach – English Article on "Dialogue": "Cultural and Philosophical Conditions of Dialogical Coexistence". Never has there been a greater need for deeper listening and more open intercultural dialogue...

Hayo B.E.D. Krombach - Japanese Article on "Dialogue" 'Taiwagata kyouson non bunkateki/tetsugakuteki joken' (Cultural and Philosophical Conditions of Dialogical Coexistence). Never has there been a greater need for deeper listening and more open intercultural dialogue...

Hayo B.E.D. Krombach - Article on "Tendai Philosophy". 'The Tendai Philosophy of Perfect Harmony'. 'The Tiantai/Tendai philosophical School of Mahayana Buddhism...'

Draft texts of the project are internationally peer-reviewed. One section on ‘The Tendai Philosophy of Perfect Harmony’ was published in The Japan Mission Journal (Oriens Institute for Religious Studies), 2011, Vol. 65, No. 3, pp. 154-161.

"Cultural and Philosophical Conditions of Dialogical Coexistence", in Comprehensive Study of Symbiosis in Indian and Buddhist Thought: With Reference to the Construction of Thoughtand its Transformation (Japanese title: Indoteki kyouseishisou no soukouteki kenkyu: Shisou kouzo to sono juyou wo megutte) (Tokyo: The Nakamura Hajime Eastern Institute, 2017), pp. 439–546.

'Taiwagata Kyouson no Bunkateki/Tetsugakuteki Joken' (Japanese translation of 'Cultural and Philosophical Conditions of Dialogical Coexistence - the latter to be published in 2017), TOHO (The East), vol. 31, 2015, pp. 55-146.

Toho is a publication of The Nakamura Hajime Eastern Institute in Tokyo, founded by the late Nakamura Hajime, Professor in the Department of Indian Philosophy and Buddhist Studies at the University of Tokyo'.

Philip Thonemann – Formal Methods in Philosophy

Philip Thonemann is a physics teacher at Mill Hill School, in North London, and a part-time philosopher of science. His academic background includes Physics and Philosophy at Oxford, and postgraduate work at University College, London. He is currently working, very slowly, to raise the profile of Modest Scientific Realism, an unexciting but plausible view which has lurked in the literature for many years. As a longstanding member of the Wittgenstein reading group he is producing expository and critical notes on the Philosophical Investigations. Most importantly, he is the convenor of the famous Centre Tea, which is currently at 4:00 every Wednesday.

Max Steuer – The privatisation of United Kingdom Air Traffic Control, and the methodology of practicing economists

Max Steuer is a founding member of the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science. He is the editor of the LSE Philosopher Papers Series, which has replaced the Centre Discussion Paper Series.  The prior series consisted of over eighty publications. He currently is Reader Emeritus and joined the Economics Department at the London School of Economics in 1959. His publications include Mathematical Sociology (with Janet Holland), The Impact of Foreign Direct Investment on the United Kingdom (Steuer and The Scientific Study of Society. His current research interests are in the privatisation of United Kingdom Air Traffic Control, and in the methodology of practicing economists. He is a regular participant in the Centre's 'Work in Progress' group studying aspects of evolutionary theory.

Peter Sozou – Evolutionary biology, behaviour and economics; Decision-making in health; Philosophy of Science.

Research activities

  1. Evolutionary Biology. This includes a kin-selection model of social discounting, and a continuous-time evolutionary game theory (with asymmetric information) model of courtship.
  2. Strategic Problems in Reproductive Medicine, in association with the University of Warwick. This involves medical ethics and economics

Presentations, Workshops etc.

  • "The evolution of social discounting". Presented at workshop on the Biological Basis of Economics, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, April 2008.
  • "An evolutionary basis for social discounting". Presented to the Choice Group, LSE, June 2008.
  • "Duration of courtship effort as a costly signal". Presented at London Evolutionary Research Network (LERN), February 2009.

Publications 2008-09

R M Seymour and P D Sozou "Duration of courtship effort as a costly signal". Journal of Theoretical Biology 256, 1-13, 2009. 

John Pemberton – Arrangement and Change

John Pemberton has been an Associate at the CPNSS since 1994. He has also recently become a Research Associate on the Powers Structuralism project at Corpus Christi College in Oxford. Until 2008 he was engaged in finance, commercial research and business in a variety of companies and institutions in Britain – this experience sets the central ambition of his research: contributing to the foundations of finance and economics.

This current research initiative is within the philosophy of science and metaphysics – it seeks to explore the inter-relation between arrangements (structures) of components and powers and the change to which such arrangements (i.e. nomological machines or mechanisms) give rise. The work follows in the tradition associated with Stanford School of strong respect for scientific practice, whilst also seeking to connect to existing metaphysical viewpoints. The main strands of this work are:

  • Research in conjunction with Nancy Cartwright in philosophy of science centred around nomological machines, i.e. arrangements of components and powers which give rise to characteristic change - much of the focus is on causation and laws.
  • Metaphysical investigation of the interrelation between change and structure informed by Aristotle’s account of form, process of change, and agent-patient powers – this work benefits from participation in the Powers Structuralism Project.
  • Development of an account of the ontology of physical things as homeodynamic processes generated from further things.

Relevant publications include:

Pemberton, J.M. & Cartwright, N. (2014). Ceteris paribus laws need machines to generate them. Erkenntnis special issue: Semantics and Pragmatics of Ceteris Paribus Conditions.

Cartwright, N. & Pemberton, J.M. (2012). Aristotelian powers: without them, what would modern science do? In Powers and capacities in philosophy: the new Aristotelianism. Edited by J. Greco and R. Groff. Routledge.

Jeremy Clarke – Knowledge for Use

My research at LSE is part of a progressive inter-disciplinary project led by Nancy Cartwright looking at how evidence can be used to make better predictions for outcomes (Cartwright, 2013). Myself and Professor Cartwright, with Katherine Furman, are working on specific problems for policy makers looking to help people with depression back to work: how to intervene most usefully in a complex human social situation? Evaluation methodologies that privilege only RCT-derived interventions have tended to miss outcomes that matter to these clients and have also undervalued the proper place for complex, objective clinical judgment.

Alongside this research I am a practising psychotherapist, working in the NHS, providing evidence based psychoanalytic therapy; and training and supervising other clinicians in this new approach. In 2009 I was awarded a Fellowship by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy for my contribution to developing evidence based practice; in 2012 I was awarded a CBE for my contribution to mental health as national adviser to successive recent governments in scaling up access to therapy on the NHS. Currently I am an advisor to NICE’s Centre for Guidance and a member of the expert group revising its Depression guideline. Since 2007 I have organised an annual conference devoted to scientific debates in evidence-based practice: Psychological Therapies in the NHS (see ).

The starting point for my collaboration with colleagues at LSE and Durham on Knowledge for Use is a question that has taxed governments across the developed world: if, as Beveridge (1942) proposed, the proper object of government is “the happiness of the common man”, then why have successive welfare regimes failed to deliver this? Together with Lord Richard Layard and David Clark (2014) the answer that we put forward in 2007 was their consistent blindness to the causal role of mental illness, as backdrop to a business case for improving access to evidence-based psychological therapies via the NHS. In 2012-13, however, when I led the 2nd National Audit of NHS therapy services for depression, the data that emerged showed a picture of continued variation in outcomes suggesting our original policy analysis was flawed. Whilst access to CBT had been increased uniformly the burden of depression had also increased and, according to a recent report (OECD, 2014), the UK has the highest rate of new claims for invalidity benefit (ESA due to depression) across the OECD countries.

In Knowledge for Use we have set ourselves a different question, therefore, which we think will offer a more useful way forward: how can practitioners who are working with people facing adverse personal, social and psychological circumstances understand the causal role of complex change mechanisms to secure specific wellbeing/work outcomes for their clients? We hope to discover better models for using professional judgement to predict what will work for whom, and better methods for NICE and the EU for future guidelines.



Beveridge (1942) Social Insurance and Allied Services; Report by Sir William Beveridge HMSO

Cartwright N. (2013) Evidence for Policy and Wheresoever Rigor is a Must ISSN: 2045-5577 London: LSE

Layard, R. & Clark, D.M. (2014) Thrive: the power of evidence-based psychological therapies London: Allen Lane

OECD (2014) Mental Health and Work in the UK Paris: OECD Publishing



Clarke, J.C. & Barkham, M. (2009) Evidence de rigueur: the shape of evidence in psychological therapies and the modern practitioner as teleo-analyst Clinical Psychology Forum, 2009, 202, 7-10

Clarke, J.C. (2012) The Blind Guideline-Maker: why NICE keeps missing what matters The Psychotherapist 51, Summer

Williams, R. et al (2016) Patient preference in psychological treatment and associations with self-reported outcome: national cross-sectional survey in England and Wales BMC Psychiatry, 16(4), 1-8


Presentations & Workshops

(02.07.13) Auditing a Revolution: Results of the 2nd National Audit of Psychological Therapies for Depression International Congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Edinburgh

(26.02.14) Educating Northerners: the challenge for the psychological professions improving wellbeing in the North West Psychological Professions Network Launch, Bolton Reebok Stadium

(09.10.14) With Nancy Cartwright: The Shock of the Real: mental health and employment interventions that will work here, now and for this client – improving wellbeing in Greater Manchester Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society and Institute for Advanced Studies, Durham University

(13.11.14) Vocational Activation: Improving wellbeing through ‘evidence-best’ practice Annual meeting of the Division of Clinical Psychologists, North West, Bolton Holiday Inn

(11.04.15) Improving wellbeing in Italy: some lessons from the UK experience Ufficio Ragioneria degli Psicologi del Piemonte, Annual Conference, Torino, Italy

(27.04.16) With Robert Elliott: What evidence works best for which NICE therapy? (Or why what works in research settings may not work in the real world) Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society and Institute for Advanced Studies, Durham University

(03.06.16) With Robert Elliott: Now its personal! How can we know when personalised support to help people get back to work is likely to be able to work? Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society and Institute for Advanced Studies, Durham University

(24.06.16) Re-setting the balance: from stepped care to matched or personalised care for common mental illness (Or it may have worked in California but will it work in Blackpool?) IAPT Northern Practitioners Research Network, Manchester University

(30.06.16) With Amra Rao Re-setting the balance: improving staff wellbeing in psychological therapies through more sustainable methods of quality improvement IAPTus Users Network Annual Conference, Tech UK, London

Mike Stuart

Imagination plays many roles in science; from generating hypotheses, to planning tests, communicating results, and sparking revolutions. I want to understand what the different kinds of imagination-use in science are, how they succeed or mislead, and how scientists themselves learn and teach their students to use this feature of their discipline. Last year, as a Fellow of the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh, I conducted an ethnographic study of imagination-use in a computational systems biology laboratory. The year before that, I finished my doctoral degree on the history and philosophy of scientific thought experiments at the University of Toronto (2015). This year and the next while at the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science at the LSE, I will be working on the role of imagination in model-building and scientific representation, as well as finishing up my work as editor of The Routledge Companion to Thought Experiments.

Dates of visit: September 2016 – September 2018

Project Description: Scientists create and learn from models of real-world systems that feature approximations, idealizations and abstractions. Such deviations from reality are heuristically necessary; without them science as currently practiced could not exist. Deviating from reality to learn about reality is epistemologically interesting as (part of) a method of investigation, and to investigate it, I want to look at the psychological processes and powers that enable scientists to do this. Principal among these powers is the imagination, which is crucial for taking us from the sentences and equations of scientific theory to the model systems which are their meanings, and getting from those model systems back to the world. With funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), I hope to gather data on scientific imagination-use in vivo, and use this to develop a philosophical framework that is both taxonomical and explanatory concerning the scientific imagination. The next step is to develop a normative account that would be of use to scientists and educators who are interested in better training and constraining the scientific imagination. More at