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Professor Matthew Tugby

Professor / On research leave

Professor / On research leave in the Department of Philosophy+44 (0) 191 33 46576


Administrative Roles

Deputy Director of Philosophy MA

Director of Philosophy Graduate Diploma

I was born in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, where I attended Ashfield School and Sixth Form. After being inspired by Descartes, I studied Philosophy at the University of York, where I graduated with first class BA honours. I stayed on for the MA in Philosophy at York, before receiving a PhD scholarship at the University of Nottingham as part of the AHRC Metaphysics of Science Project, led by Helen Beebee, Alexander Bird, and Stephen Mumford. I wrote a doctoral thesis about the metaphysics of dispositions, supervised by Stephen Mumford and D. M. Armstrong. After passing the PhD, I worked for three years as Teaching Fellow at the University of Birmingham. I then moved to Durham University in 2013, to take up the post of Lecturer in Philosophy. I have been at Durham ever since and became Professor of Philosophy in 2022. 

Office Hours

Thursdays (term-time only), 11.00-14.00 in room 206, 51 Old Elvet (or online on request)

Research Interests

My core philosophical interests lie in the metaphysics of science and I publish mainly on the topics of properties, dispositions, laws, causation and teleology. I argue that properties are metaphysically fundamental and can help to explain many other metaphysical phenomena such as causation, dispositions, laws, modality, and teleology. I am a Platonic realist about properties and my recent work focuses on how to motivate a Platonic metaphysics by reflecting on science and modality. This work is published in my 2022 monograph Putting Properties First: A Platonic Metaphysics for Natural Modality (Oxford: Oxford University Press). This research was supported by a Mind Association Research Fellowship. More recently, I have written a short book called Teleology for the Cambridge Elements series (to be published in 2024). 

I enjoy supervising research students and I have supervised 10 PhD projects to completion, on topics including identity, laws, mental causation, monism, powers, properties, reduction in economics, structural realism, teleology, and time.

Research interests

  • Metaphysics (especially the topics of essence, identity and individuation, modality, ontological dependence, properties and substance)
  • Metaphysics of Science (especially the topics of causation, chance, dispositions, laws and natural kinds)


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Supervision students