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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Prof Richard Smith

Professor in the School of Education
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 48404
Room number: ED214

Contact Prof Richard Smith (email at


Richard Smith mainly teaches courses in the theory and philosophy of social science. His research interests are in the philosophy of social science and in philosophical issues in education, particularly higher education, postmodernity, and the epistemology of educational research. He is Associate Editor of the Journal of Philosophy of Education. 

Information for prospective doctoral research student supervisions

Richard would welcome applications from doctorate students in the following areas:

  • Ethical and philosophical issues in education.
  • The moral psychology of self-belief.
  • Critique of educational research and its 'methods'.

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2013: Chair: Philosophy of Education Society of GB (elected)
  • 2013: Commissioned by Routledge publishers: To produce Major Themes in Education: Philosophy of Education II (5-vol anthology covering 1998-2013), to be published in 2014
  • 2013: Output Assessor: Research Excellence Framework (REF) Panel 25 (Education)

Research Interests

  • Critique of educational research
  • The importance of Not Knowing
  • The moral psychology of self-belief
  • Virtue epistemology

Research Groups

Selected Publications

Journal Article

Authored book

Edited book

  • Fulford, A;, Lockrobin, G; & Smith, R; (2020). Philosophy and Community: Theories, Practices and Possibilities. Bloomsbury.
  • Torill,S., Smith,R., Pirrie,A., Gregoriou,Z. & Papastephanou,M. (2017). Philosophy as Interplay and Dialogue. Reihe: Studies on Education. Münster, Vienna and Zurich: LIT Verlag.
  • Smith, R.D. (2013). Education Policy: Philosophical Critique. Wiley Blackwell.
  • Smith, R.D., Bridges, D. & Smeyers, P. (eds) (2009). Evidence-based Educational Policy: What Evidence? What Basis? Whose Policy?. Blackwell.

Chapter in book

  • Smith, R. (2019). Work for the enquiring spirit. In Toward New Philosophical Explorations of the Epistemic Desire to Know: Just Curious about Curiosity. Papastephanou, M.(ed.) Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars. 128-149.
  • Smith, R. (2018). The furnace of instrumental reason. In Educational Research: Ethics, Social Justice, and Funding Dynamics. Smeyers, P. & Depaepe, M. Dordrecht: Springer. 209-222.
  • Smith, R. (2018). Wittgenstein, Science and the Social Sciences. In International Handbook of Philosophy of Education. Smeyers, Paul Cham: Springer. 443-455.
  • Smith, R. (2017). Slow learning and the multiplicity of meaning. In A companion to Wittgenstein on education: pedagogical investigations. Peters, M. & Stickney, J. Singapore: Springer. 101-113.
  • Smith, R.D. (2014). An epistemic monoculture and the university of reasons. In New Perspectives in the Philosophy of Education: Ethics, Politics and Religion. Lewin, D., Guilherme, A. & White, M. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Smith, R.D. (2014). Citizenship, therapy and the politics of irony. In My Teaching, My Philosophy. Kenneth Wain: A Lifelong Engagement with Education. Baldacchino, J., Galea, S. & Mercieca, D. New York: Peter Lang. 303-316.
  • Smith, R.D. (2014). Educational research and the light of science. In A Companion to Research in Education. Reid, A. et al Springer: Dordrecht. 155-158.
  • Smith, R.D. (2014). Mud and hair: an essay on the conditions of educational research. In Educational research: Material culture and its representation. Smeyers, P. & Depaepe, M. Springer. 133-144.
  • Smith, R.D. (2014). Philosophy in its place. In Leaders in Philosophy of Education. Waks, L. Rotterdam: Sense. 245-254.
  • Smith, R.D. (2014). Re-reading Plato: the slow cure for knowledge. In Philosophy as a Lived Experience: Navigating through dichotomies of thought and action. Papastephanou, M., Strand, T. & Pirrie, A. LIT Verlag. 3: 23-37.
  • Smith, R.D. (2014). The philosopher and the writer. In Education and the common Good: Essays in Honor of Robin Barrow. Gingell, J. Routledge. 1-12.
  • Smith, R.D. (2013). Interpretation: The Space of Text. In Educational Research: The Importance and Effects of Institutional Spaces. Volume 7 of the series Educational Research. Smeyers, Paul Depaepe, Marc & Keiner, Edwin Springer. 115-126.
  • Smith, R.D. (2013). The Theology of Education to Come. In Educational Research: The Attraction of Psychology. Springer. 6: 147-157.
  • Smith, R.D. (2013). University Futures. In Education Policy: Philosophical Critique. Smith, R.D. Wiley Blackwell. 147-160.
  • Smith, R.D. (2012). The play of Socratic dialogue. In Philosophy for Children in Transition. Vansieleghem, N. & Kennedy, D. Wiley-Blackwell. 52-65.
  • Smith, R.D. (2011). A bubble for the spirit level: metricophilia, rhetoric and philosophy. In Educational Research: the ethics and aesthetics of statistics. Smeyers, P. & Depaepe, M. Springer. 189-204.
  • Smith, R.D. (2010). Poststructuralism, postmodernism and education. In The SAGE Handbook of Philosophy of Education. Bailey, R. et al Sage Publications. 139-150.
  • Smith, R.D. (2010). Writing the philosophy of education. In The Philosophy of Education: an introduction. Bailey, R. Continuum. 158-166.
  • Smith, R.D. (2009). Authenticity and higher education: the Nietzschean university in the twenty-first century. In Nietzsche, Culture and Education. Hart, Thomas E. Ashgate. 1-11.
  • Smith, R.D. (2009). Half a language: listening in the city of words. In Educational Research: Proofs, Arguments and Other Reasoning. Smeyers, P. & Depaepe, M. Dordrecht: Springer. 149-160.
  • Smith, R.D. (2008). The Padagogisierung of Philosophy. In Educational Research: The Educationalisation of Social Problems. Smeyers, P. & Depaepe, M. Dordrecht: Springer. 205-215.

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