Bill Child

Bill Child

Tutorial Fellow in Philosophy; Professor of Philosophy

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At University College, I teach 1st Year undergraduates for General Philosophy and Moral Philosophy, and 2nd, 3rd & 4th Year students for the courses in Early Modern Philosophy (where I focus on Descartes, Locke, and Hume), Philosophy of Mind, and The Philosophy of Wittgenstein.  My aim in all my teaching, and what I most enjoy, is helping students learn to think systematically and argue effectively about philosophical issues.  Studying philosophy involves studying the work of historical and contemporary authors.  But the point is never simply to learn what other people have said; it is to reason to one’s own conclusions about the issues.

In the Faculty of Philosophy, I supervise BPhil and MSt students for course work in Philosophy of Mind and on Wittgenstein, and DPhil students writing theses in those and related areas of philosophy.

I regularly give lectures on the Philosophy of Wittgenstein, and run graduate classes on topics in Philosophy of Mind or in Wittgenstein’s philosophy.


My research focuses on two areas: the Philosophy of Mind; and the philosophy of the 20th Century Austrian philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein.  In the Philosophy of Mind, I have written about self-knowledge, memory, perception, mental causation, and the relation between mental and physical phenomena, amongst other topics.  My work on Wittgenstein has covered a range of topics in his writings: the first person point of view and the asymmetries between self and others; sensations and sensation-language; rules and rule-following; our capacity to remember our own mental states; and the relation between ‘inner’ mental states and the ‘outer’ behaviour on the basis of which we attribute those states to others.

I am currently working on two topics to which Wittgenstein’s writings make important contributions: the relation between meaning and use; and the nature of self-knowledge and memory.

Selected Publications


• Wittgenstein, Abingdon: Routledge, 2011.
• Causality, Interpretation, and the Mind, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.


• ‘Wittgenstein and Davidson on First-Person Authority and the Univocality of Mental Terms’, in C. Verheggen (ed) Wittgenstein and Davidson on Thought, Language, and Action, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.
• ‘Wittgenstein, Scientism and Anti-Scientism in Philosophy of Mind’, in J. Beale and I. J. Kidd (eds), Wittgenstein and Scientism, Abingdon: Routledge, 2017.
• ‘The Inner and the Outer’, in H-J. Glock and J. Hyman (eds.) A Companion to Wittgenstein, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017.
• ‘Does the Tractatus Contain a Private Language Argument?’, in P. Sullivan and M. Potter (eds.) Wittgenstein’s Tractatus: History and Interpretation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, 143-169.
• ‘Wittgenstein on the First Person’, in O. Kuusela and M. McGinn (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Wittgenstein, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011, 375-401.
• ‘Davidson on First Person Authority and Knowledge of Meaning’, Nous, 41, 2007, 157-177.
• ‘Dreaming, Calculating, Thinking: Wittgenstein and Anti-Realism about the Past’, Philosophical Quarterly, 2007, 252-272.
• ‘Memory, Expression, and Past-Tense Self-Knowledge’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 73, 2006, 54-76.

For a full list of publications see

Versions of most of the papers listed above are available at

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