We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

The Department of Philosophy


Dr Benedict Smith, MA (hons), MA, PhD

Assistant Professor/Director Philosophy MA and Graduate Diploma in the Department of Philosophy

Contact Dr Benedict Smith

EMAIL: b.w.smith 'at'


I was an undergraduate at the University of Glasgow and then a postgraduate at the University of Warwick. I have been a member of staff in Durham since 2005 with a brief period of teaching back at Warwick. I have previously lectured and tutored on a variety of modules and I was Research Fellow on a 3-year AHRC/DFG project: 'Emotional Experience in Depression: A Philosophical Study’.

My current research focuses on a number of issues in moral philosophy, broadly construed. For example, I have recently written articles on the nature of moral experience, motivation, trust, and the role of concepts in our moral thought and practice. My other interests include naturalism, normativity and judgement, the work of Hume and Wittgenstein, and topics in epistemology and the philosophy of mind and psychiatry. A recent major project was completing a book on moral particularism: Particularism and the Space of Moral Reasons (Palgrave Macmillan) and I am currently in the process of planning a second book on moral experience.

I have four children: Bronwen, Tobias, Dominic and Iona. In my spare time I like trying to catch up on the work I haven’t finished. And I also like going to the mountains and the sea in Assynt, NW Scotland.

I am currently the Director of the Taught MA in Philosophy. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me if you would like any more information.

Office hours: For Durham students my office hours are Fridays 10.00pm-1.00pm during Term. But feel free to knock anytime - room 102, 48 Old Elvet. Or email to arrange a meeting.



- Particularism and the Space of Moral Reasons (Palgrave MacMillan, 2011). (more)


- ‘Hume on Belief and Vindicatory Explanations', Philosophy, 94(2) 2019.

- ‘Wittgenstein, Hume and Naturalism’ in Wittgenstein and Naturalism, K. Cahill and T. Raleigh (eds.) (Routledge, 2018). (draft)

- ‘Wittgenstein, Naturalism and Scientism’ in Wittgenstein and Scientism. J. Beale & I.J. Kidd (eds.) (Routledge, 2017). (draft)

- 'Naturalism, Experience and Hume’s ‘Science of Human Nature’, International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 24(3) 2016 (draft)

- (with Matthew Ratcliffe and Mark Ruddell) ‘What is a “sense of foreshortened future?” A phenomenological study of trauma, trust, and time’, Frontiers in Psychology, 2014 (5). (draft)

- 'Depression and Motivation', Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 12(4) 2013. (draft)

- (with Matthew Ratcliffe, Matthew Broome and Hannah Bowden) 'A Bad Case of the Flu? The Comparative Phenomenology of Depression and Somatic Illness', Journal of Consciousness Studies, 20(7-8) 2013. (draft)

- 'What Mystery of Moral Experience?', Journal of Value Inquiry, 46(2) 2012. (draft)

- ‘Knowledge and the Justification of Values', Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology, 15(2) 2009.

- ‘Traditional Moral Knowledge and Experience of the World', Analyse & Kritik, 30(1) 2008. (draft)

- ‘Particularism, Perception and Judgement', Acta Analytica, 21(2) 2006. (draft)

- ‘Reasons, Responsibility and Fiction’, Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology, 13(2) 2006.

- ‘Analogy in Moral Deliberation: The Role of Imagination and Theory in Ethics', Journal of Medical Ethics, 28(4) 2002.

- ‘Possible Worlds and Moral Philosophy’, Teorema, 20(3) 2001.


- The Roots of Morality, by Maxine Sheets-Johnstone (Penn State University Press, 2008) in Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, (Vol.10, 2011)

- Naturalism and Normativity, by Mario De Caro and David Macarthur (eds.), (Columbia University Press, 2010) in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (here)



• June 2018, University of Ottowa, Canada Wittgenstein: The Place of Normativity in a Naturalistic World Title: ‘Wittgenstein and Placing Normativity’

• March 2018, Research Centre for the Humanities Hungarian Academy of Sciences Title: ‘Hume on Belief in the Treatise and First Enquiry’

• September 2017, KU Leuven, Belgium, Wittgensteinian Approaches to Moral Philosophy Title: ‘Wittgenstein and Moral Realism’

• April 2014, University of Johannesburg, South Africa, Naturalism and Phenomenology Title: 'Hume,Todes and Naturalism Reconsidered'

• June 2013, La Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, Humean Readings Title: ‘Hume and Subject Naturalism’

• May 2013, University of Gdansk, Poland, Virtues and Moral Character Title: ‘Situation and Virtue: Explanation, Context and Character’

• July 2012, Durham University, Wittgenstein and Scientism Title: ‘Wittgenstein, Naturalism and Scientism’

• March 2011, Durham University, Emotions and Depression project Title: ‘Depression and Motivation’

• June 2008, Durham University, Moral Phenomenology Workshop Title: ‘Moral Philosophy and Moral Phenomenology’

• June 2007, London Metropolitan University, MacIntyre and Revolutionary Aristotelianism Title: ‘Traditional Moral Knowledge and Experience of the World’

• June 2005, Bled, Slovenia, Particularism Conference Title: ‘Particularism, Perception and Moral Knowledge’

• July 2004, University of Cape Town, South Africa, Space of Reasons conference Title: ‘Moral Knowing and the Space of Moral Reasons’

• February 2004, University of Warwick, Experience, Norms and Nature Title: ‘McDowell and Moral Experience’

• March 2002, University of Stirling, Virtues: Moral and Epistemic Title: ‘Virtue and Philosophical Inquiry’


Research Groups

Research Interests

  • Ethics and Moral philosophy
  • History of Philosophy
  • Phenomenology
  • Philosophy of Psychiatry


Chapter in book

Journal Article