About me

Leonie Smith is a doctoral candidate in Philosophy at the University of Manchester, with primary interests in social epistemology, social ontology, and material injustice. Her 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, identifying and examining the particular epistemic and ontological harms faced by severely excluded social groups, taking UK benefit claimants as a case study; second, introducing and analysing the moral permissibility and practicality of an epistemic resistance which relies on manipulating the cognitive biases of dominant knowers through the novel concepts of epistemic self-defence (epistemic nudging and epistemic negotiation); and third, addressing a  range of conceptual issues in collective responsibilities for global poverty, the rights of corporate agents, and the proper focus for restitutive justice.

She has additionally published on the problem of the reliable liar for sensitivity-based accounts of testimonial knowledge, on the nature of harm in the case of global poverty, and on corporate personhood rights. Leonie was awarded the International Social Ontology Society‘s inaugural essay prize  for early career scholars (up to six years post-PhD), for the latter of these, in 2017.

Leonie was recently awarded a funded Visiting Fellowship at The Tilburg Center for Logic, Ethics, and Philosophy of Science at the University of Tilburg (Netherlands) which she completed September through November of 2018. Prior and post this in 2018, Leonie presented her research both by invitation and by anonymised peer-reviewed acceptance in Leeds, London, Manchester, Oxford and Dublin in the UK and Ireland; in Lund, Vienna, Braga, Pavia and Cologne (Europe); and in Melbourne (Australia). She was additionally accepted to conferences in Hanover (Germany) and Boston (US), and initiated and co-convened the 2018 Royal Institute of Philosophy three-part conference series on ‘Personhood and Selfhood’ (additionally sponsored by the AHRC).

In 2019 she will be presenting at peer-reviewed conferences in Princeton (US),  Tampere (Finland), Warwick, Newcastle, Cardiff and Kent (UK), and at the University of Johannesburg (South Africa), and by invitation at the University of Hertfordshire (UK) and the University of Glasgow (UK). She will be co-organising the Mind-sponsored conference on ‘Politics, the Law and Ontology’, in addition to leading and serving on the organising committees of various student conferences (submitting and winning funding awards from various bodies for these events). Leonie also continues to convene the Manchester PhD Philosophy seminar series and co-ordinate the annual Manchester Philosophy department reading party retreat.

Outside of her research and teaching commitments Leonie volunteers as a MAP (Minorities and Philosophy) UK mentor, and works with talented year 12 students from backgrounds currently under-represented in higher education, as a Manchester Access Programme tutor, as well as presenting and mentoring at various local school-based events. Since late 2017, she has also held the remunerated roles of Administrator for The Mind Association, and Editorial Assistant for the journal, Global Justice: Theory, Practice, Rhetoric, and the voluntary role of PhD student representative for the Philosophy department in Manchester.

Leonie’s work is generously funded by a doctoral studentship award from The University of Manchester. Prior to her PhD she received her 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 she 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 her work and experience please do get in touch at L.smith@manchester.ac.uk.