Professor Michael Wheeler


Philosophy University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA

Professor Michael Wheeler

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About me

I am a member of the Stirling Philosophy unit's research cluster in Mind and Knowledge, My primary research interests are in philosophy of science (especially cognitive science, psychology, artificial intelligence and biology) and philosophy of mind.

Prior to (re-)joining the Stirling Philosophy unit in 2004, I held teaching and research posts at the Universities of Dundee, Oxford, and Stirling (a previous appointment). My doctoral work was carried out at the University of Sussex.

I have given invited research papers at symposia and conferences all over the UK, and in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and the USA. I was an invited lecturer at the 2013 Philosophy Summer School in China, held in Qinhuangdao.

Symposia specifically on my work have been organised by philosophy departments at the Goethe University of Frankfurt, the Free University of Amsterdam, and Tilburg University. In 2016 I was the Brackenridge Distinguished Visiting Professor, at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

My research has an established interdisciplinary dimension and many of the invited talks I have given have been at conferences in disciplines other than philosophy, ranging from artificial intelligence to literary studies, from media studies to archaeology, from psychology to art and design. I have successfully collaborated on publications and externally funded research projects with colleagues in many other disciplines, in the sciences and the humanities.

I have an established public engagement profile, with a track record of:

  • collaborations with, and invited presentations at events organised by, international stakeholders in research such as Science Europe, the European Forum Alpbach and the Ontario legislature;
  • public-facing lectures or panel contributions at major venues and festivals, including theEdinburgh Science Festival;
  • talks to internal audiences at, for example, the Scottish Government, Microsoft Research and the Institute of Chartered Bankers;
  • media interventions as writer, interviewee and adviser;
  • organising and contributing to workshops for societal stakeholders such as primary school children (at the National Museum of Scotland) and maximum security prisoners (at HMP Shotts, in collaboration with the Talbot Rice Gallery).

The workshop just mentioned was part of a recent AHRC-funded project on which I was Co-Investigator: the Art of Distributed Cognition. This project resulted in an international exhibition – The Extended Mind – at the Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh, one of Scotland’s principal art galleries (exhibition website: Featuring 12 international artists and attracting 3500 visitors, the exhibition demonstrated how distributed cognition provides novel ways to understand the creation and experience of artworks. Principal Investigator Miranda Anderson (Anniversary Fellow in Philosophy and Literature, University of Stirling) and I co-authored the exhibition catalogue with the gallery curator James Clegg.

The forerunner of The Art Of Distributed Cognition was The History of Distributed Cognition', a multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary AHRC-funded project spanning Edinburgh, Durham, Oxford and Stirling, and Classics, English, History and Philosophy, on which I was a Co-Investigator. Our project partner was the National Museums of Scotland. 

I was scientific consultant on the John Templeton Foundation funded project ‘Knowledge Beyond Natural Science' (Principal Investigator Crispin Wright, Stirling). I held previous AHRC awards for individual research leave and for a series of interdisciplinary seminars on ‘The Interactive Mind' as part of the Council's programme of strategic initiatives. I was also a steering committee member of ‘Cognitive Futures in the Humanities', an AHRC funded network with the goal of bringing cognitive science and the humanities into productive interaction.