Unit of Assessment
Research Assessment Exercise 2008



By percentage of research activity in the submission judged to reach quality standard

UOA 60 Philosophy

FTE Cat A Staff submitted for assessment






London School of Economics and Political Science







The Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method produces research that addresses a wide variety of issues of current social and political concern, including the evolutionary foundations of morality, the use of evidence in medicine, the reliability of causal methods in the social sciences, and the scope for reaching consensus through merging opinions.

The department has been ranked joint third in the UK for the proportion of its work deemed 'world leading' in the Research Assessment Exercise 2008|. Thirty five per cent of its research received this top classification and a further 30 per cent was recognised as 'internationally excellent'.

Professor Richard Bradley, head of department, said: "We are committed to research that has an impact not only on philosophy and the philosophies of the various sciences but also on the practice of the sciences themselves, pure and applied, from economics to physics and medicine, and on the public policy debates that depend on them."  

The department has a particularly strong research tradition in the philosophy of science. Recent work has concerned the development of the Bayesian theory of confirmation; scientific modelling; and the philosophy of physics, including chaos theory and its role in statistical mechanics, causality in quantum physics, and the behaviour of non-linear systems.

A related area of research for the department is evidence-based policy, currently the subject of considerable debate in the social and medical sciences. Professor John Worrall's research on randomised controlled trials has attracted the attention of medical communities as well as academic peers working in the philosophy of science. Professor Nancy Cartwright's work has also had an impact both inside and outside the profession. The US National Research Council, for example, was awarded a large grant to study the use of evidence with a proposal that borrowed the title of her research project and made extensive use of her ideas.

The department's research in rational choice theory is focused on the interdisciplinary LSE Choice Group, whose research-related activities on individual and collective decision making have become the focus of philosophically-orientated decision theory in Europe. The group is largely the origin of two growing fields of enquiry: the problem of reconciling diverse opinions (judgement aggregation) and the nature of belief and preference change. 

The department is also home to the interdisciplinary Centre for the Philosophy of Natural and Social Science. The centre attracts national and international visitors, and engages with a wide variety of academic and practitioner disciplines and issues through its public lectures and seminars. Recent topics for debate have included the methodology and ethics of research on neglected diseases, drug abuse policy, the ethics and effectiveness of randomised controlled trials, voting systems for the EU and USA, and intellectual property rights.

See Definitions of Quality| 4*, 3*, 2*, 1* and u/c

See RAE 2008 Analysis of Results| in the RPDD website for more detailed information.