University of Hertfordshire

Professor Paul Coates

Professor Emeritus

Paul Coates

Professor Paul Coates

Professor Emeritus



Paul Coates is Professor Emeritus at the University of Hertfordshire. He read for a first degree in Philosophy with Psychology at the University of Sussex, followed by an MA in Philosophy. He took a PhD in Philosophy University College, London (awarded 1976), while teaching philosophy part-time at a number of institutions including the Open University and Morley College, and also teaching chess. As Head of Philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire he lead the Philosophy Group during a period of expansion from 1992 to 1999, and from 1999 to 2004 he was Research Leader in Humanities. In 1998-99 he served a term as President of the Mind Association. He is a former member of the AHRC Peer Review College for awards. He is currently a scientific board associate for the Centre for the Study of the Senses, Institute of Philosophy, London University.


Paul has been the recipient of research grants and awards from The British Academy, The USA National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mind Association, the Aristotelian Society, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Most recently he received a major award from the AHRC for a project exploring the nature of Phenomenal Qualities. Paul is a member of the Wilfrid Sellars Society, and in 2006 acted as the British co-organiser of an international conference on Wilfrid Sellars, Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind after 50 Years, which took place at the Institute of Philosophy, London University. Paul has given invited lecture tours, on topics connected with perceptual experience, in Scotland, and in the United States.


Paul's research has been in three main areas: Perception; The Kripkenstein problem and the nature of rule-following; and the philosophy of Wilfrid Sellars. In 2007 he published The Metaphysics of Perception: Wilfrid Sellars, Perceptual Consciousness and Critical Realism, with Routledge. Since then he has published further papers elaborating the causal theory of perception. He is currently working on problems relating to perceptual experience, phenomenology, and projectivism; and on issues connected with chess and the limits of human understanding.



Highlighted Publications

'Kripke's Sceptical Paradox: Normativeness and Meaning'

Coates, P. (1986) in Mind 95, 77-80. 

‘Meaning, Mistake and Miscalculation’, 

Coates, P. (1997) in Minds and Machines 7, 171-197.

The Metaphysics of Perception: Wilfrid Sellars, Perceptual Consciousness and Critical Realism,

Coates, P. (2007), London: Routledge.

‘The Multiple Contents of Experience’

Coates, P. (2009) in Philosophical Topics: Perception and Intentionality, 37:1, 25-47.

‘Perception, Imagination and Demonstrative Reference: A Sellarsian Account’

Coates, P. (2009) in Empiricism, Perceptual Knowledge, Normativity and Realism: Essays on Wilfrid Sellars (ed.) W. deVries, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 63-100.   

'Projection, Revelation and the Function of Perception'

Coates, P. (forthcoming, 2015) in (eds) P. Coates and S. Coleman, Phenomenal Qualities: Sense, Perception, and Consciousness, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Phenomenal Qualities: Sense, Perception, and Consciousness

Coates, P. and Coleman, S. (eds) (forthcoming, 2015), Oxford: Oxford University Press.



Highlighted Activities

Paul gave the inaugural address, entitled 'Perception and Metaphysical Scepticism' at the Mind-Aristotelian Society Joint Session, which was held at the University of Hertfordshire in 1998.

As Principal Investigator, he has lead the AHRC supported project The Nature of Phenomenal Qualities, which hosted a number of seminars, workshops, and one-day conferences. Philosophers from all over the world participated in the events organised in the project, which culminated with a four-day international conference at the University of Hertfordshire, The Nature of Phenomenal Qualities, in March-April 2012. Papers from this will be published by Oxford University Press in 2015.

Recently Paul has been working on problems connected with projectivism, spatial perception, and chess, and how these bear on the issue of scientific realism. His paper 'Chess, Imagination and Perceptual Understanding' was published in 2013 in Philosophy and Sport (edited by Anthony O'Hear), Cambridge University Press. He is also interested in questions concerning prediction and false expertise.



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