Lewis D. Ross


I’m a philosopher in the Arche Research Centre at the University of St Andrews.

Here you can find details of my current research, published and forthcoming papers, work in progress, recent/upcoming talks, and a CV.

Contact me me on: ldr2 [at] st-andrews.ac.uk


My research is primarily in epistemology, ethical/political philosophy, and the philosophy of law.

Much of my recent work, including my doctoral thesis, has been attempting to answer the following broad questions: what do we aim for when we inquire, and what are the norms governing inquiry?

Recent projects within this topic have included:

  • the role and normative status of curiosity in motivating inquiry;
  • the nature of understanding and its relationship to knowledge;
  • the nature of progress within social disciplines like philosophy and science.

Lately, I’ve also been researching a range of other issues such as:

  • what is the relationship between the norms of epistemology and legal norms?
  • how worried should we be about recent critiques of philosophical methods?
  • what should political philosophers say about recent secession movements?
  • what is the relationship between virtue theories in epistemology and ethics?


Feel free to email me for drafts of unpublished/forthcoming work — comments are welcome!

The Virtue of Curiosity. Forthcoming in Episteme. (Pre-print PDF) 

  • Discusses the status of curiosity as a virtue and how it relates to broader issues in virtue epistemology.

Philosophical Progress under the Microscope. Synthese (2018). (Open Access link)

  • Provides a new perspective on expertise in philosophy, and argues that recent experimental data might be good news for the standing of traditional methods.

How we make progress. Under Review.

  • Provides a way for social epistemologists to think about progress in philosophy and science that focuses on sources of information, rather than on the epistemic states possessed by individuals or groups.

Can Understanding be Reduced? Under Review.

  • Argues against recent theories on which understanding is just a matter of what agents know. I then sketch an alternative reductionist theory that encompasses a broader range of epistemic states.

Curiosity and Epistemic Norms. Under Review.

  • Unifies recent debates on what satisfies curiosity and the literature on epistemic norms. On this basis, I argue that the evidence for a knowledge based theory of curiosity-satisfaction is no better than the evidence for a range of alternatives.

An epistemic puzzle for secession movements. In Progress (draft available).

  • Argues that recent secession movements face justificatory problems stemming from widespread disagreement amongst voters who endorse the same outcome, and proposes some ways to ameliorate these issues.

The norms of belief and the norms of punishment. In Progress.

  • Argues that, contrary to what a number of philosophers have recently suggested, a court fulfilling the epistemicnorms governing belief is neither necessary nor sufficient for legitimising the imposition of sanctions on defendants.

Upcoming Talks 

Soon, I’ll be speaking at:

The University of Oslo (Social Epistemology Network) on progress; the University of Graz (Association for the Study of Nationalism) on secession; the University of Cologne (German Society for Analytic Philosophy) on understanding.


Here’s a CV.