Making an impact: research excellence in Philosophy

The Department of Philosophy prizes itself on the quality and breadth of its research. The Department is delighted that research in Philosophy at Kent has been judged as 100% ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ by an expert panel as part of the recent Research Excellence Framework. This excellent result ranks Philosophy at Kent 5th in the UK, according to the Times Higher Education.

The Department’s impact, research outputs and environment were all assessed as 100% world-leading or internationally excellent. It is the only philosophy department in the UK to reach this threshold.

The Department of Philosophy hosts a very broad range of research specialisms. Particular areas of collaborative strength include the philosophy of medicine and health, philosophy of science and epistemology, normativity and applied philosophy, and aesthetics.

Much of the Department’s research activity looks outward, beyond the lecture theatre and academia, and has had an impact across the world. For example, Dr Edward Kanterian’s research on the norms of values of liberal democracy has influenced decision makers in the European Union. As a member of the Econ Initiative, run by officials who work for the EU Commission, he has encouraged and enabled a value-based approach to policy-making in Europe, influencing advisers working on economic and environmental policies.

Another project, led by Professor Jon Williamson and Dr Michael Wilde, has helped to inform new evaluation procedures of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (a World Health Organization body that assesses whether exposures to various substances cause cancer) and the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, which assesses a wide variety of health interventions.

This impact is balanced by more theoretical research in core areas of philosophy such as ancient philosophy, concepts, the epistemology of evidence, inductive logic, Kant, the metaphysics of time, moral responsibility, type theory, and virtue.

This balance between applied and theoretical work, together with the Department’s interactive and collaborative research culture, provides research students with strong foundations, and feeds into the Department’s undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.

Head of the Department of Philosophy, Dr Graeme A. Forbes, said, ‘This result is a fantastic endorsement of our vision to undertake high-quality research in Philosophy that has significant impacts on people’s lives and addresses some of the world’s most challenging questions. As a collaborative discipline which works with colleagues across a wide range of subject areas, it is incredibly encouraging to see that our published research, the impact of our research and the research environment we have created have been recognised by a panel of peers and experts.’

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