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Dr Aness Webster

Assistant Professor/ EDI Lead / Athena Swann

Assistant Professor/ EDI Lead / Athena Swann in the Department of Philosophy
Fellow of the Institute for Medical Humanities


I received my Ph.D. from University of Southern California and was previously at the University of Nottingham. My work re-examines various notions of normativity (autonomy, agency, shame). I argue that many standard theories can be scruticinised by consdering the lived experiences of members of marginalised groups. More positively, I think this form of non-ideal theorising opens up space for novel and constructive theories.

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My research interest is in value theory, broadly construed, including normative ethics, rationality, philosophy of agency and responsibility, and philosophy of law. Although my research interests seem disparate, I think they fall into two different kinds of projects.

First, I'm interested in rethinking issues by considering lived experiences. When we consider the lived experiences of those in different social positions in our non-ideal and unjust world, this creates difficulties for many standard theories (e.g. shame, autonomy, agency, well-being). Taking these considerations seriously is one way of critiquing and resisting our unjust, oppressive social reality. More positively, theorizing from these lived experiences (and more generally, engaging in non-ideal theorizing) opens up space for novel and constructive theories about a variety of normative issues.

Second, I’m interested in what we can reasonably demand of our theories and I explore following questions.

  • What kind of action-guidance should we expect from an ethical theory?
  • Are we asking too much of shame if we expect shame to play an important moral role in our lives?
  • Do our epistemological theories about when a belief is justified exhaust all questions about what we can know and what we should believe?



I will be on Research Leave in Michaelmas 2024.

In Epiphany 2025, I will be teaching Ethics and Values and Feminist Philosophy.


Supervision students