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Jennifer Hornsby

Professor of Philosophy


Jennifer Hornsby’s BA, MPhil and PhD are from Oxford, London and Cambridge respectively. She is Emeritus Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where she was a Tutorial Fellow from 1978 until she came to Birkbeck where she has been Professor since 1995. She was a founder member of the Centre for the Study of the Mind in Nature, Oslo, and a Co-Director for ten years until 2017. She has held research positions in U.S.A., Australia and Norway. She is a Fellow of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, of the British Academy, and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Research Activity

    An indication of Jennifer Hornsby’s own recent work can be got from lectures/talks she gave in the last eighteen months:

    - presented a paper “Causality and Perception”, to the Activity and Perception conference, University of Patras, 7th–8th May 2014.

    - presented a Postscript to her 2008 paper at a workshop (named after that paper) Agency and Alienation, University of Leipzig, 22nd–24th May 2014.

    - was the speaker at two events at HowTheLightGetsIn (a philosophy festival organized by the Institute of Ideas) Hay on Wye, May 2014.

    - gave a talk “Perception: from phenomenology to epistemology via metaphysics” to the Serious Metaphysics Group, Cambridge, 11th June 2014.

    - was the Townsend visitor (delivering three lectures), UC Berkeley, 22nd–28th Sept 2014.

    - was the invited speaker at the XXIII SIUCC Conference, presenting three papers, and responding to ten others on her work, Seville, 6th–8th Nov 2014.

    - was a contributor to In Our Time: Truth, BBC Radio 4, 18th December 2014.

    - gave the Simon Lectures at the University of Toronto, 24th and 26th March 2015.

    - presented a paper “Knowing How and Intending”, At the Speed of Thought: Celebrating Paul F Snowdon, 19th June 2015.

    - gave the Canadian Journal of Philosophy Distinguished Lecture, “Infinitives in Practical Thought”, at the Canadian Philosophical Association Annual Congress, Ottawa, 31st May–3rd June 2015.

    - gave the Theoria lecture, “What to think? and What to do?”, at the Swedish Annual Philosophy Congress, Linköping, 12th–14th June 2015.

    - will give a paper to the Oxford Graduate Workshop, “Propositions and Acts”, 14th Nov 2015.

    - will give a lecture “Means/End Beliefs vs Knowledge How To” at the Royal Institute of Philosophy, 20th Nov 2015.


  • Recent publications include:
  • “Intending, knowing how, infinitives”. Canadian Journal of Philosophy (2016), vol.46.
  • “Causality and ‘the mental’“. In Humana Mente, vol 29 (2015) (volume entitled Causality and Mental Causality), 125–140.
  • “A Contrast Between Two Pictures: The case of perception”. Philosophical Topics 42 (2015)
  • “Pornography and ‘Speech’” in The Philosophy of Pornography: Contemporary Perspectives, eds. L.Coleman and J.Held (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers 2014).
  • Basic Activity”. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 87 (2013): 1–18.
  • “The Politics We Live By: Leveson and Women”. Women: A Cultural Review 24 (2013), 128–32.
  • A full list of Jennifer Hornsby’s publications is available here, and many of her publications can be got from here.

Research Supervision

  • Jen welcomes research students in any of the areas of her research interests:
    • Philosophy of action, mind and language
    • Metaphysics: especially causality and “events, states, processes”
    • Topics in social and feminist philosophy relating to language use
  • She currently is, or recently has been, supervising research students on questions about agency, personal identity, practical knowledge, evolution (in biology).