I am a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Sussex. Before this, I was a Research Fellow at Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge, and an Associate Fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI). I completed my PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2018 under the supervision of Richard Holton and Huw Price.
I work mostly in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science, although I also have interests in moral psychology, social epistemology, the philosophy of science, economics, and psychiatry. I am currently writing two books: Why it’s OK to be Cynical (under contract with Routledge); and Delusions in the Social Mind (co-authored with Sam Wilkinson and Kengo Miyazono; under contract with Oxford University Press).
The main focus of my research is on the social functions and causes of beliefs. I am especially interested in self-deception, religious beliefs, political ideologies, and delusions. I wrote up a brief and accessible overview of some of my ideas on the topic here. I’m also interviewed about some of this research here and here.
My secondary research focus is on using recent advances in neuroscience and machine learning to address foundational philosophical questions about the mind. For example, my PhD thesis drew on work in neuroscience that depicts the brain as a probabilistic prediction machine to develop a framework for understanding how mental representation emerges in the natural world. You can find the thesis here and find accessible overviews of each chapter here.
I also have many other research interests, including:
- the nature and evolution of human morality and cooperation;
- the philosophy of psychiatry, especially questions surrounding psychosis and addiction;
- the philosophy of economics and social science, especially concerning attempts to illuminate social phenomena by appeal to the concept of signalling;
- the risks and opportunities associated with developments in artificial intelligence;
- the relationship between empiricism, pragmatism, and naturalism—specifically, in outlining a philosophical framework that incorporates what is important in each of these traditions whilst discarding what isn’t. That’s what my MPhil thesis was on, for example.
Find me on academia here: https://cambridge.academia.edu/DanielWilliams
On researchgate here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Daniel_Williams53
On Google Scholar here: https://scholar.google.com.au/citations?user=JETVbM0AAAAJ&hl=en
On the HearThisIdea podcast: https://hearthisidea.com/episodes/dan
On The Dissenter podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHXCc2pcg38
On the Unlocking Science (Episode 2, “How do we talk about science and identity?”) podcast: https://council.science/podcast/unlocking-science/