About me

I am a doctoral candidate in Philosophy at the University of Manchester, with primary interests in social epistemology, social ontology, and material injustice.

My PhD project – Epistemic exclusion and epistemic self-defence: collective and individual responsibilities, rights and harms – is a collection of papers which brings these themes together: first, by identifying and examining the epistemic and ontological harms faced by severely excluded social groups, taking UK welfare claimants as a case study; second, by introducing and analysing the moral permissibility and practicality of an epistemic resistance which relies on manipulating the cognitive biases of dominant knowers; and third, by addressing a  range of conceptual issues in collective responsibilities for global poverty, the rights of corporate agents, and the proper focus for restitutive justice.

My publications to-date address: the problem of the reliable liar for sensitivity-based accounts of testimonial knowledge; the nature of harm in the case of global poverty; and the status of corporate personhood rights (I was awarded the International Social Ontology Society‘s inaugural essay prize  for early career scholars (up to six years post-PhD), for the last of these).

In 2019 I am presenting / have already presented at referred conferences in Princeton (US),  Tampere (Finland), Warwick, Newcastle, Cardiff and Kent (UK), and at the University of Johannesburg (South Africa). I have also presented by invitation at the University of Hertfordshire (UK) and the University of Glasgow (UK), and have co-convened and secured funding for a Mind-sponsored workshop on ‘Politics, the Law and Ontology’. I led and served on the organising committees of various student conferences throughout 2018 and 2019 (submitting and winning funding awards from various bodies for each of these events), in addition to continuing to convene the Manchester PhD Philosophy seminar series and the annual Manchester Philosophy department reading party retreat.

In 2018 I received a funded Visiting Fellowship at The Tilburg Center for Logic, Ethics, and Philosophy of Science at the University of Tilburg (Netherlands), which I took up towards the end of last year. Prior and post this in 2018, I presented my research by invitation and by refereed acceptance variously in Leeds, London, Manchester, Oxford and Dublin in the UK and Ireland; in Lund, Vienna, Braga, Pavia and Cologne (Europe); and in Melbourne (Australia). I was accepted to, but unable to attend, additional referred conferences in Hanover (Germany) and Boston (US), and also proposed, secured funding for, and lead-convened the 2018 Royal Institute of Philosophy three-part conference series on ‘Personhood and Selfhood’ (additionally sponsored by the AHRC and the Mind Association).

Outside of my research and teaching commitments I volunteer as a MAP (Minorities and Philosophy) UK mentor and work with talented year 12 students from backgrounds currently under-represented in higher education through the Manchester Access Programme. I often present and lead philosophy talks and discussions in local schools and am happy to be contacted by school administrators and teachers who would like me to be part of their future planned events. Since late 2017 I have held the remunerated roles of Administrator for The Mind Association, and Editorial Assistant for the journal, Global Justice: Theory, Practice, Rhetoric, alongside the voluntary role of PhD student representative for the Philosophy department in Manchester.

My work is generously funded by a doctoral studentship award from The University of Manchester. Prior to my PhD I received my BA(hons) in PPE at the University of Oxford in 2015, and completed the MLitt in Philosophy (with Distinction) at the University of St Andrews in 2016. In 2019 I was awarded the University of Manchester Distinguished Achievement Award for Postgraduate Researcher of the year, in addition to the Faculty of Humanities award for the same. For details of additional funding and awards received, or for further information regarding my work and experience please do get in touch at L.smith@manchester.ac.uk.