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Eileen John

My research concerns how art and creative practices engage us as cognitive and ethical 'works-in-progress'. I have a specific interest in literature and its philosophical and ethical roles, with a broad aim of showing the relevance of literary works to contemporary debates in meta-ethics, moral psychology, epistemology, and value theory. Recent and current research projects concern: reasoning across disagreements in value; what allows 'how should one live?' to be a tractable question; how knowledge is relevant to love; the role of aesthetic experience and judgement in individual and communal life; how we can care about fictional characters; why meals are not works of art; the relation of aesthetic and ethical value in art; and humour's potential for moral impact. Authors who have provoked some of this work include Borges, Kafka, Flannery O'Connor, Thomas Hardy, Herman Melville, Grace Paley, J. M. Coetzee, and Toni Morrison. I also have an ongoing interest in poetry and the philosophically challenging demands it places on readers, with some work on poetry and 'ownership' of thought and a current interest in thought influenced by mood in poetry.

Selected publications
  • 'Caring about Characters', in Fictional Characters, Real Problems: The Search for Ethical Content in Literature, ed. Garry Hagberg (Oxford UP, 2016).

  • 'Theme’, in The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Literature, Noël Carroll and John Gibson, eds. (Routledge, 2016).

  • 'Literature and Disagreement', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 114(3), 2014. (chosen by Aesthetics for Birds as one of the 2014 Fab Flock Five)
  • 'Meals, Art, and Artistic Value', Estetika 51(2), 2014. (won 2015 article award from Finnish and Slovak aesthetics societies)
  • 'Love and the Need for Comprehension', Philosophical Explorations 16(3), 2013.
  • 'Poetry and Directions for Thought', Philosophy and Literature 37(2), 2013.
  • 'Art and Knowledge', in The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics, 3rd ed., Berys Gaut and Dominic Lopes, eds. (Routledge, 2013). [replaces chapter in 2001 edition]
  • 'Literature, Pluralism, and the Critique of Evaluative Concepts', in Understanding Fiction: Knowledge and Meaning in Literature, eds. Jürgen Daiber, Eva-Maria Konrad, Thomas Petraschka, and Hans Rott (Mentis, 2012).
  • 'Beauty, Interest, and Autonomy', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 70 (2), 2012.
  • 'Literature and the Idea of Morality', in A Companion to the Philosophy of Literature, eds. Garry Hagberg and Walter Jost (Blackwell, 2010).
  • 'Poetry and Cognition', in A Sense of the World: Fiction, Narrative and Knowledge, eds. John Gibson, Wolfgang Huemer, and Luca Pocci (Routledge, 2007).
  • 'Artistic Value and Opportunistic Moralism', in Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art, ed. Matthew Kieran (Blackwell, 2006).
  • Philosophy of Literature: Contemporary and Classic Readings, co-edited with Dominic Lopes (Blackwell, 2004).
  • 'Literary Fiction and the Philosophical Value of Detail', in Imagination, Philosophy, and the Arts, eds. Matthew Kieran and Dominic Lopes (Routledge, 2003).
  • 'Images of Community in American Popular Culture,' co-authored with Nancy Potter, in Diversity and Community, ed. Philip Alperson (Blackwell, 2002).
  • Reading Fiction and Conceptual Knowledge: Philosophical Thought in Literary Context, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 56(4), 1998.
  • Henry James: Making Moral Life Interesting, Henry James Review 18, 1997.

  • 'Subtlety and Moral Vision in Fiction', Philosophy and Literature 19, 1995.
Selected book reviews
  • Australasian Journal of Philosophy 2014: review of Philosophy and the Novel by Alan H. Goldman
  • Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2012: review of J. M. Coetzee and Ethics: Philosophical Perspectives on Literature, eds. Anton Leist and Peter Singer
  • British Journal of Aesthetics 2009, 49(2): review of Art, Emotion and Ethics by Berys Gaut
  • Philosophy in Review 2009, XXIX(5): review of On Form: Poetry, Aestheticism and the Legacy of a Word by Angela Leighton
  • Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2008: review of Aesthetics and Literature by David Davies 
  • British Journal of Aesthetics 2007, 47(2): review of Aesthetics, Imagination and the Unity of Experience by R. K. Elliott
  • Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 2002, 60(2): review of Fiction and Metaphysics by Amie Thomasson

Eileen John
Associate Professor
Department of Philosophy
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

E-mail: eileen.john@warwick.ac.uk

Office hours:

Term 1, Autumn 2016:

Wed 10-11 am, Thurs 2.30-3.30 pm, and by appointment

Office: Social Studies 2.59

Links to:

Phil/Lit BA

Problems in Phil & Lit

Textual Studies

MA module Literature and Knowledge

Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and the Arts

British Society of Aesthetics

American Society for Aesthetics


21 October 2015

Kafka and the Human Animal

27 March 2015:

Eating Well Workshop

4-5 February 2015:

Children's Lit & Ethics Workshop