Brief biography

I was born and brought up near Doncaster in South Yorkshire, England — a low-lying inland region of farmland and coal-mines, intersected with canals, dykes, and railway lines. As a child, I liked cricket, aeroplanes, and nature, and my heroes were Geoff Boycott, Biggles, and Gerald Durrell.

At school I particularly enjoyed maths and science, but my teenage years were punctuated by illness, and I spent many hours alone reading. I learned Latin and Ancient Greek, and for some time contemplated becoming a classicist. I studied for my first degree with The Open University, taking courses in literature, ancient history, and philosophy. Gradually, I homed in on philosophy, which combined something of all my interests. I’d also developed a fascination with psychology, so I came to focus on philosophy of mind.

I went on to do postgraduate work at the University of Sheffield, which ran a strong MA programme in mind, meaning, and intentionality. I took a taught Masters degree there, writing my concluding thesis on Dennett’s belief/opinion distinction. I continued at Sheffield as a doctoral student, supported by a British Academy studentship. My PhD thesis, which was supervised by Peter Carruthers and Chris Hookway, distinguished two types of belief and argued for a two-level framework for folk psychology.

While at Sheffield I also held a Temporary Lectureship in the Philosophy Department, teaching courses in mind, language, and action — an experience I greatly enjoyed. I was also closely involved in the work of the Hang Seng Centre for Cognitive Studies and became a strong believer in the value of interdisciplinary collaboration.

In 1999, I returned to The Open University, this time as a Lecturer in the Philosophy Department at the University’s main campus in Milton Keynes. A large part of the job involved designing courses and writing teaching materials for them — a stimulating and rewarding task. I worked on several courses throughout the 2000s. I helped to design the course A207: From Enlightenment to Romanticism c.1789-1830, prepared a block on folk psychology for the University’s MA in Philosophy, and wrote a book on consciousness for the third-level course AA308: Thought and Experience: Themes in the Philosophy of Mind. I also chaired various course teams and taught at residential schools.

In the early 2000s, I was also a Senior Member of Robinson College, Cambridge, and in my spare time I acted as a Director of Studies for the college, overseeing the work of the college’s cohort of philosophy students.

During this time, I continued to pursue my research, first building on my earlier work on folk psychology, and later developing further interests in the philosophy of cognitive science, consciousness, and the philosophy of psychopathology. I also had the chance to promote interdisciplinary collaboration, organizing a major conference on dual-process theories in 2006 and serving for several years as director of the OU’s Mind, Meaning, and Rationality research group. The OU promoted me to Senior Lecturer in 2008.

Later in 2008, I moved to Crete, Greece — a move made for family reasons. In 2008-9 I was a Visiting Researcher in the Department of Philosophy and Social Studies at the University of Crete, and from 2010 I have been an Adjunct Professor with the University’s Brain and Mind Program, which is hosted by the Faculty of Medicine. I remain associated with The Open University, as a Visiting Senior Research Fellow. In 2017 I rejoined the Sheffield Philosophy Department as an Honorary Reader.

I currently live in Heraklion, a busy coastal city flanked by high mountains. I am married to Maria Kasmirli, who is also a philosopher. We have three children.

Aside from family life, my interests include movies (especially those of Bergman, Powell and Pressburger, Jean Renoir, and the French New Wave), the history of Crete, and cricket. My favourite writers include Thomas Browne, Laurence Sterne, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Henry James, and James Joyce. My unfulfilled ambitions include learning to fly, meeting Bob Dylan, and getting together a Cretan cricket XI.