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Durham University

Department of Philosophy


Professor Stephen Mumford

Personal web page

Professor of Metaphysics (On Research Leave) in the Department of Philosophy

(email at


I am author of Dispositions (Oxford, 1998), Russell on Metaphysics (Routledge, 2003), Laws in Nature (Routledge, 2004), David Armstrong (Acumen, 2007), Watching Sport: Aesthetics, Ethics and Emotion (Routledge, 2011), Getting Causes from Powers (Oxford, 2011 with Rani Lill Anjum), Metaphysics: a Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2012) and Causation: a Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2013 with Rani Lill Anjum). I was editor of George Molnar's posthumous Powers: a Study in Metaphysics (Oxford, 2003) and Metaphysics and Science (Oxford, 2013 with Matthew Tugby). My PhD was from the University of Leeds in 1994 and I was at Nottingham between 1995 and 2016, serving served as Head of the Department of Philosophy, Head of the School of Humanities and Dean of the Faculty of Arts. I am currently completing a number of book projects: What Tends to Be: Essays on the Dispositional Modality and Causation in Science: on the Methods of Scientific Discovery (both with Rani Lill Anjum). I will shortly be publishing my first philosophical novel, Glimpse of Light (Bloomsbury). From 2016 to 2019 I will be on leave as I hold a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship to work on the metaphysics of nothingness and absence. The project will result in a book to be called Nothing Really Matters.



I supervise theses and dissertations primarily in metaphysics.


Research Groups

  • History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine
  • Mind, Language and Metaphysics

Research Interests

  • Metaphysics (esp. absences and causal powers)
  • Philosophy of Medicine
  • History of Philosophy (esp. Ancient Philosophy and Hume)
  • Philosophy of Sport
  • Modality

Selected Publications (since 2010)

For a full list of publications, see my personal webpage



  • with Rani Lill Anjum: 'Emergence and Demergence', in M. Paoletti and F. Orilia (eds), Philosophical and Scientific Perspectives on Downward Causation, London: Routledge, pp. 92-109.


  • 'Armstrong on Dispositions and Laws of Nature', in F. Calemi (ed.), Metaphysics and Scientific Realism, Berlin: de Gruyter, pp. 161-75.
  • with Sebastián Briceño: 'Relations All the Way Down? Against Ontic Structural Realism', in A. Marmodoro and D. Yates (eds) The Metaphysics of Relations, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 198-217.
  • 'The Aesthetics of Football: the Beautiful Game?' in John Hughson, Kevin Moore, Ramon Spaaij and Joseph Maguire (eds), Routledge Handbook of Football Studies, London: Routledge, pp. 236-44.
  • with Rani Lill Anjum: 'A Philosophical Argument Against Evidence-Based Policy', Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, online view.


  • with Rani Lill Anjum: 'Powers, Non-consent and Freedom', Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 91: 136-52. Early online view.
  • with Rani Lill Anjum: 'Freedom and Control: the Modality of Free Will'. American Philosophical Quarterly, 52: 1-11.
  • with Rani Lill Anjum and Roger Kerry: 'Evidence Based on What?', Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice. Online view
  • 'In Praise of Teamwork', Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 42: 51-5.
  • 'Metaphysics of Sport' in M. McNamee and W. Morgan (eds) Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Sport, London: Routledge, pp. 274-84.


  • with Rani Lill Anjum: 'A New Argument Against Compatibilism', Analysis 74: 20-25.
  • with Rani Lill Anjum, 'The Tendential Theory of Sporting Prowess', Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 41: 399-412.
  • 'Contemporary Efficient Causation: Aristotelian Themes' in Tad Schmaltz (ed.), Efficient Causation: A History, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 317-39.
  • with Thor Eirik Eriksen, Roger Kerry, Svein Anders Noer Lie and Rani Lill Anjum: 'Causal Knowledge in Evidence-Based Medicine: Reply to Strand and Parkkinen', Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice. Early online view.
  • 'The Aesthetics of Sport', in C. Torres (ed.) The Bloomsbury Companion to the Philosophy of Sport, London: Bloomsbury, pp. 180-94.
  • with Roger Kerry and Rani Lill Anjum: 'Response to Miles and Mezzich "Causation as the Way Forward in Person Centered Medicine"', European Journal of Person Centred Healthcare, 2: 81-2.
  • with Rani Lill Anjum: 'The Irreducibility of Dispositionality' in Rafael Hüntelmann and Johannes Hattler(eds) New Scholasticism Meets Analytic Philosophy, HeusenstammEditiones Scholasticae, pp. 105-28.


  • with Rani Lill Anjum: Causation: a Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 128 pp, ISBN 978-0-19-968443-4.
  • with Matthew Tugby (eds) Metaphysics and Science, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ix + 244 pp, containing, with Matthew Tugby, 'What is the Metaphysics of Science?', pp. 3-26. ISBN 978-0-19-967452-7.
  • 'A Pornographic Way of Seeing', in H. Maes (ed) Pornographic Art and the Aesthetics of Pornography, London, Palgrave, pp. 58-72.
  • with Rani Lill Anjum: 'With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility' in B. Kahmen and M. Stepanians (ed.), Causation and Responsibility - Critical Essays, Berlin: de Gruyter, pp. 219-37.
  • with Thor Eirik Eriksen, Roger Kerry, Svein Anders Noer Lie and Rani Lill Anjum: 'At the Borders of Medical Reasoning: the Aetiological and Ontological Challenges of MUS', Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 8 (11).
  • with Roger Kerry, Anthony Arthur and Aurelien Madouasse: 'Analysis of Scientific Truth Status in Controlled Rehabilitation Trials' in Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 19: 617-25 Online Early View.
  • 'Ways of Watching Sport', Philosophy (supplement) 73: 3-15.
  • 'Causes for Laws', Jurisprudence 4: 109-14.
  • with Rani Lill Anjum: 'Causes as Powers' (reply to McKitrick and Marmodoro), Metascience, 22: 554-9


  • Metaphysics: a Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 113 pp, ISBN 978-0-19-965712-4..
  • 'Emotions and Aesthetics: an Inevitable Trade-Off?', Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 39: 267-79.
  • 'The Power of Power', in Ruth Groff and John Greco (eds), Powers and Capacities in Philosophy: The New Aristotelianism, London: Routledge, pp. 9-24.
  • with Rani Lill Anjum and Svein Anders Noer Lie: 'Dispositions and Ethics' in Ruth Groff and John Greco (eds), Powers and Capacities in Philosophy: The New Aristotelianism, London: Routledge, pp. 231-47.
  • with Roger Kerry, Thor Eirik Eriksen, Svein Anders Noer Lie and Rani Lill Anjum: 'Causation and Evidence-Based Practice: an Ontological Overview', Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 18 (5): 1006-12.
  • 'Moderate Partisanship as Oscillation', Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, 6: 369-75. Also in R. S. Kretchmar and P. Hopsicker (eds), Critical Concepts in Sports Studies: Philosophy of Sport, v. III, London: Routledge.
  • with Rani Lill Anjum: 'Causal Dispositionalism' in A. Bird, B. Ellis and H. Sankey (eds) Properties, Powers and Structures: Issues in the Metaphysics of Realism, London: Routledge, pp. 91-107.


  • with Rani Lill Anjum: Getting Causes from Powers, Oxford: Oxford University Press, xvi + 254 pp, ISBN 978-0-19-969561-4.
  • Watching Sport: Aesthetics, Ethics and Emotions, London: Routledge, xi + 152 pp, ISBN 978-0-415-37790-4. 
  • with Rani Lill Anjum: ‘Spoils to the Vector: How to Model Causes if you are a Realist about PowersThe Monist 94: 54-80.
  • with Rani Lill Anjum: 'What We Tend to Mean', Norsk Filosofisk Tidsskrift 46: 20-33.
  • with Rani Lill Anjum: ‘Dispositional Modality’,in C. F. Gethmann (ed.) Lebenswelt und Wissenschaft: Deutsches Jahrbuch für Philosophie2, Hamburg: Meiner Verlag: 468-82.
  • with Rani Lill Anjum: 'Effects of Context', Information Knowledge Systems management 10: 101-110. Reprinted in W. Rouse, K. Boff and P. Sanderson (eds), Complex Socio-Technical Systems: Understanding and Influencing the Causality of Change, Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2012.


  • with Rani Lill Anjum: A Powerful Theory of Causation’, in A. Marmadoro (ed.) The Metaphysics of Powers, London: Routledge, pp. 143-59.
  • ‘'No Power in Unger's World', Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 80: 476-83.
  • Ascribing Dispositions’, in Debating Dispositions: Issues in Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Mind, G. Damschen, R. Schnepf and K. Stüber (eds), Berlin: DeGruyter, pp. 168-85.
  • with Teresa Oliveira Lacerda: ‘Genius in Art and Sport’, Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 37: 182-93.
  • ‘Breaking it or Faking it?’, Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, 4: 254-68. Also forthcoming in R. Scott Kretchmar and Peter Hopsicker (eds) Philosophy of Sport: Critical Concepts in Sports Studies, London: Routledge. Also in R. S. Kretchmar and P. Hopsicker (eds), Critical Concepts in Sports Studies: Philosophy of Sport, v. II, London: Routledge.


Research Interests

  • Metaphysics (esp. absences and causal powers)
  • Philosophy of Medicine
  • History of Philosophy (esp. Ancient Philosophy and Hume)
  • Philosophy of Sport
  • Modality


Authored book

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Selected Grants

  • 2016: Absences, Nothings, Lacks and Limits (£158534.00 from Leverhulme Trust)