Department of Philosophy

The Faculties of Humanities and Theology | Lund University

Theoretical Philosophy

Theoretical philosophy studies the principles of human knowledge, the development of science and the basis for scientific knowledge, the principles of thought, argumentation and communication, the nature of language and consciousness, metaphysics, and the history of the subject itself. Some of the central issues for us are: What is knowledge and what is the difference between knowledge and information? What do logical thought and rational argumentation mean? What does it mean to think critically? What ultimately exists? What is causation? What characterises a scientific explanation? How should we change our views and theories in the light of new facts? What distinguishes typical human cognition and communication? What is verbal meaning? How does cooperation work?

Common to all research in theoretical philosophy in Lund is that it is conducted within analytical philosophy in its broad sense. In addition, much of our research is interdisciplinary with close connections to cognitive research, informatics and jurisprudence. We work with a series of different methods – from traditional philosophical analysis and formal methods (logic, probability theory, etc.) to computer simulations and empirical experiments. Our research environment is distinctly international and our research seminars are usually held in English. Theoretical philosophy in Lund fosters breadth and we research most of what is included in the subject. A description of our three main research specialisations follows below.


Philosophy, cognition and communication. The research specialisation has an interdisciplinary approach to psychology and linguistics focusing on the development and evolution of human thought, social cognition and communication. The research is based on a view of cognition and communication as bodily and located. The methodology is basically philosophical with emphasis on the development of concepts and theories within philosophy, psychology and linguistics. Professor Ingar Brinck leads a research team within the field which is called the CogComLab.


Knowledge and quality of information. Within this specialisation, research is conducted on various aspects of knowledge and information. More recent research deals for example with how to measure the degree of coherence in information and the degree of reliability of a source of information. We also work with models in which we study how truth and lies are spread in groups, for example in social networks. Professor Erik J. Olsson leads the research team Lund University Knowledge and Information Quality Research Group (LU-IQ). The specialisation connects to two Lund traditions: the evidentiary value theory (philosophy of law) and the AGM theory of belief revision (philosophical logic). From an interdisciplinary point of view, the research borders on informatics, cognition, media and jurisprudence.


Metaphysics of Science. This research field is aimed at the philosophical analysis of central scientific concepts such as property, explanation, mechanism and time. An important issue is also how the concept of risk is to be understood and what different types of risk can be distinguished. Recent research includes a disposition theory of mechanisms, a defence of the trope theory of properties and studies of how physical macro-objects endure over time. Professor Johannes Persson and Reader Anna-Sofia Maurin set the tone of the research within this specialisation, which has interdisciplinary links to biology, theoretical physics and social sciences, among others (based theory).