I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy, a Core Member of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, an Associate Member of the Brain and Mind Institute and a BrainsCAN engaged researcher at the University of Western Ontario. I am also a member of the Translational Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory (PIs – Tim Bussey and Lisa Saksida) at Western. I have a PhD in History and Philosophy of Science (2007) and a MS in Neuroscience (2003) from the University of Pittsburgh. Beginning in January 2022, I will begin a 4 year appointment as a member of the Governing Board of the Philosophy of Science Association (https://www.philsci.org). I am also a member of the editorial board for OUP’s Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Science book series (Series Editor – Kyle Stanford).

A primary aim of the philosophy of neuroscience, which is the main focus of my research, is to understand how neuroscience works. One goal of my research is to develop and refine a conceptual framework for evaluating experiments and understanding the nature of different kinds of practices (e.g., collaborative, conceptual, integrative, methodological, open-science) in the neurosciences of cognition (e.g., Sullivan 2008/2009, 2010, 2014, 2016, 2018; Mattu & Sullivan 2020; Sullivan 2020; Sullivan, Dumont, Memar, et al. 2020) and determining the implications of these practices for knowledge production in these areas of science. 

I am currently funded through a SSHRC Grant for my project “The Philosophy of Neuroscience in Practice”. A common strategy in philosophy of neuroscience for understanding how neuroscience works is to evaluate methodological and review papers and research studies to develop such understanding. However, this approach sheds little light on the intricate inner workings of the science that occur in the contexts of laboratories, lab meetings, journal clubs, and informal conversations between primary investigators, postdoctoral fellows, and science students working within the same lab or working with researchers in other laboratories.The overarching aim of my project is to illuminate these foundational activities from the perspective of a participant-observer and collaborator in a cutting-edge translational cognitive neuroscience laboratory at Western University. This project continues and extends my previous philosophical work on experimentation (e.g., Sullivan 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015, 2018), classification and natural kinds (e.g., Sullivan 2014, 2016, 2017, Mattu and Sullivan 2020), mental illness (e.g., Kincaid & Sullivan 2009, 2014; Sullivan 2016) and pluralism and unity of science (e.g., Sullivan 2009, 2016, 2017, 2021) which historically has focused on psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience (See publication list for references).

More information about the project is available here: https://www.rotman.uwo.ca/portfolio-items/philosophy-of-neuroscience-in-practice/.

(Sullivan 2008/2009 Synthese)