Professor Dan O'Brien

BSc(hons), MA, MPhil, PhD

Reader in Philosophy

School of Education, Humanities and Languages

Dan O'Brien


I am subject coordinator for Philosophy@Brookes. My first degree was in Biological Sciences at Birmingham University, after which I took an MA, MPhil and PhD (2001) in Philosophy. I have taught at Birmingham, Warwick and Keele Universities, coming to Brookes in 2008.

Teaching and supervision


Modules taught

  • PHIL4003 Theory of Knowledge
  • PHIL4005 Human Nature [team taught]
  • PHIL5010 Ethics in the 21st Century [team taught]
  • PHIL5012 History of Philosophy 1: Early Modern Philosophy
  • PHIL5014 Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art
  • PHIL6006 Thought and Consciousness


​Postgraduate Supervision:

  • As director of studies or second supervisor I have supervised the following projects to completion:
  • 2023. Daniel Brown (PhD): ‘Hume, Husserl, and Intentionality’. Jan. 2020–Jan. 2023. Director of Studies.
  • 2023. Catrin Street-Mattox (MA by Research): ‘A Defence of Szasz’s “The Myth of Mental Illness” and its Relevance to Modern Mental Healthcare'. Sept. 2021–Sept. 2022. Co-Director of Studies.
  • 2023. Miles Christie (MA by Research): ‘Functionalism and Strange Minds’. Sept. 2021—Sept. 2022. Director of Studies.
  • 2021. Matthew Cooper (MA by Research): ‘The Pragmatic Problem of Evil’: Sept. 2020–Sept. 2021. Director of Studies.
  • 2021. Josh D’Arcy Grantham (MA by Research): ‘It’s All a Cover-up! An Examination of Epistemic Vices and Conspiracy Theories in the Internet Age’: Sept. 2020–Sept. 2021. Director of Studies.
  • 2021. Jose Quinones (PhD): ‘Euthanasia and the Duty to Die: A Moral Advocacy for the Responsibility to End Life at the Right Time’: June 2019–Sept. 2021. Second Supervisor.
  • 2021. Thomas Whitmore (MA by Research): ‘Virtue Ethics and Eudemonia’: Sept. 2019–Sept. 2020. Second supervisor.
  • 2020. Shamsa Khan (PhD): ‘Hume and the Self: Pride, Narrativity and Social Media’: Sept. 2016–June 2020. Director of Studies
  • 2019. Daniel Brown (MA by Research): ‘The Cornerstones of Personhood: The Creation of the Self and the Formation of Personal Identity’: Sept. 2018–Sept. 2019. Director of Studies.
  • 2018. Marcus Westberg (PhD): ‘The Nature of Human and Artificial Rationality’: 2012–2018. Second Supervisor.
  • 2018. Tomacz Stainer (MA by Research): Sept. 2016–Sept. 2017. ‘Coherentism in Moral Epistemology: Moral science or Elaborate Intuitionism?’. Second Supervisor.
  • 2017. Alan Bailey (PhD by previously published work): ‘David Hume and Scepticism’: 2016–17. Second Supervisor.
  • 2016. Alex Barrett (MA by Research), ‘Eliminative Materialism’: 2014–2016. Second Supervisor.


I have published 10 books and a number of articles in top-ranking journals. My research interests are wide, ranging over David Hume, philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind (empathy), history of art (cubism; Caravaggio), philosophy of art, epistemology (epistemic virtues; testimony), philosophy of education and more.



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Professional information

Memberships of professional bodies

I am the organizer of the Royal Institute of Philosophy (Oxford) public lectures, The Oxford Hume Forum and I am book reviews editor for Hume Studies. I am also a member of the British Society for the History of Philosophy, the Hume Society, the British Society of Aesthetics and the European Society of Aesthetics.


I have presented my work at over 80 national and international conferences and workshops. In the last few years these have included:

  • Coordinates of Aesthetics, Art and Culture 8. Presov, Slovakia. Nov. 10, 2022. ‘Philosophy, Art and Creative Assessments: A Proposal’
  • University of San Raffaele, Milan. CRESA seminar. June 22, 2022. ‘Philosophy, Art and Creative Assessments’
  • AMPS Focus on Pedagogy, Beaconhouse National University, April 20, 2022: ‘Philosophy, Pedagogy and Visual art’
  • 3rd International Symposium of Visual Culture: Interdisciplinarity in the Study of the Image, Valencia, Oct. 27, 2021. ‘Philosophy and the Visual Arts: Some Distinctions’
  • Prague-Oxford Hume Forum, Prague, May 8, 2021. ‘Hume, Intellectual Virtue and Agency’
  • Representations of Humility and Humbleness. Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiberg, Nov. 7–9, 2019: ‘Hume’s Mitigated Scepticism and Intellectual Humility’
  • Positioning the Humanities in the 2020s symposium, Volkswagen Foundation, Herrenhausen Palace, Hamburg, Sept. 10–12, 2019: ‘Philosophy in Schools and Intellectual Modesty’
  • On the Limits of Reason in the Age of Reason: Disputes in the 18th Century Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, August 28–31, 2019: ‘Humean Wisdom’