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Professor Derek Matravers

Profile summary

Professional biography

I took my undergraduate degree, in Philosophy, at University College, London. After that I completed a Ph.D. at Darwin College, Cambridge (where I am still a Senior Member). I was supervised by Hugh Mellor on the topic of ‘Art and the Emotions’. I then spent another three years in Cambridge as a post-doctoral Research Fellow. After that, I moved to The Open University. I have written on various areas of aesthetics and the philosophy of art, as well as in ethics and the philosophy of mind.

I have held visiting positions at the University of Latvia, the University of British Columbia, the University of Otago, Shanghai Normal University, and Rhodes University, South Africa.

Research interests

I have published five books: Art and Emotion (OUP, 2008); Reading Political Philosophy: Machiavelli to Mill (with Jon Pike and Nigel Warburton) (Routledge, 2000); Introducing Philosophy of Art: Eight Case Studies, (Routledge, 2013); Fiction and Narrative (OUP, 2014); and Empathy (Polity, 2017). I have also recently edited a couple of collections. The first, edited with Damien Freeman, is Figuring Out Figurative Art (Routledge, 2014). The second, edited with Anik Waldow, is Philosophical Perspectives on Empathy (Routledge, 2018).

In Fiction and Narrative I argue that philosophers have greatly overestimated the role of the imagination in the philosophy of fiction (in a review in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Sarah Worth said that Fiction and Narrative 'is a total gamechanger for anyone who works in the philosophy of fiction, aesthetics, or narrative.') A philosopher whose views on the imagination are much less sceptical than mine is Kathleen Stock. Josh Johnston and Nola Semczyszyn have produced a childrens’ book based on our disagreement. You can download the book as a PDF file [1.6 MB].

Currently, I am directing (along with Helen Frowe, Director of the Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace) an AHRC-funded project in Heritage in War. Information about this can be found here.

I am interested in supervising graduate students in aesthetics (particularly in the philosophy of fiction) as well as in the philosophical issues around heritage and conservation.

I am on the Executive Committee of the Royal Music Association Music and Philosophy Study Group.

I am a founder-member of the International Network of Sympathy, Empathy, and The Imagination.

Teaching interests

Most recently I have written for the new Philosophy MA, writing about Environmental Aesthetics and about Consciousness.

Research Activity

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
The Arts and their Audiences Research ClusterClusterFaculty of Arts


[Book Review] Things: In Touch with the Past by Carolyn Korsmeyer (New York: Oxford University Press) (2019)
Matravers, Derek
The Philosophical Quarterly ((Early Access))
Visualizing and Visualizing Representations (2018-08-01)
Matravers, Derek
Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 76(3) (pp. 275-284)
Recent philosophy and the fiction/non-fiction distinction (2018-01-05)
Matravers, Derek
Collection and Curation ((Early Access))
Art, knowledge, and virtue: comments on Alana Jelinek's This is Not Art. (2014-11-19)
Matravers, Derek
Journal of Visual Art Practice, 13(3) (pp. 169-177)
Why we should give up on the imagination (2010-09-08)
Matravers, Derek
Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 34(1) (pp. 190-199)
Recent philosophical work on the connection between music and the emotions (2010)
Matravers, Derek
Music Analysis, 29(1-3) (pp. 8-18)
Design as communication: exploring the validity and utility of relating intention to interpretation (2008-09)
Crilly, Nathan; Good, David; Matravers, Derek and Clarkson, P. John
Design Studies, 29(5) (pp. 425-457)
Institutional definitions and reasons (2007)
Matravers, Derek
The British Journal of Aesthetics, 47(3) (pp. 251-257)
Some questions about radical externalism (2006)
Matravers, Derek
Journal of Consciousness Studies, 13(7-8) (pp. 95-108)
Two comments and a problem for David Davies’ Performance Theory (2005-12-01)
Matravers, Derek
Acta Analytica, 20(4) (pp. 32-40)
Aesthetic properties 1 - Derek Matravers (2005-07)
Matravers, Derek and Levinson, Jerrold
Supplementary Volume - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 79(1) (pp. 191-210)
The Experience of emotion in music (2003-10)
Matravers, Derek
Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 61(4) (pp. 353-363)
The Aesthetic Experience (2003-04)
Matravers, Derek
British Journal of Aesthetics, 43(2) (pp. 158-174)
The institutional theory of art: a protean creature (2000-04-01)
Matravers, Derek
British Journal of Aesthetics, 40(2) (pp. 242-250)
Justice and moral theory (1999-07-01)
Matravers, Derek
Skepsis: A Journal for Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Research, 10 (pp. 71-82)
Revising principles of architecture (1999-01-01)
Matravers, Derek
Journal of Architecture, 4(1) (pp. 39-45)
Truth in fiction: a reply to New (1997-10-01)
Matravers, Derek
Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 55(4) (pp. 423-425)
Aesthetic concepts and aesthetic experience (1996-07-01)
Matravers, Derek
British Journal of Aesthetics, 36(3) (pp. 265-277)
Is boring art just boring? (1995-10-01)
Matravers, Derek
Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 53(4) (pp. 425-426)
Beliefs and the fictional narrators (1995-04-01)
Matravers, Derek
Analysis, 55(2) (pp. 121-122)
Why some modern art is junk (1994-01-01)
Matravers, Derek
Cogito, 8(1) (pp. 19-25)
Unsound sentiment: a critique of Kivy's 'Emotive Formalism' (1993-04-01)
Matravers, Derek
Philosophical Papers, 22(2)
Art and the feelings and emotions (1991-10-01)
Matravers, Derek
British Journal of Aesthetics, 31(4) (pp. 322-331)
Whose afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1991-06-01)
Matravers, Derek
Ratio, 4(1) (pp. 25-37)
Empathy (2017-01-20)
Matravers, Derek
Key Concepts in Philosophy
ISBN : 9780745670751 | Publisher : Polity Press | Published : Cambridge
Fiction and Narrative (2014-04-24)
Matravers, Derek
ISBN : 978-0-19-964701-9 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford
Introducing Philosophy of Art: Eight Case Studies (2012-12-27)
Matravers, Derek
ISBN : 9781844655373 | Publisher : Acumen Press | Published : Durham
Art and Emotion (1998)
Matravers, Derek
ISBN : 0-19-823638-7 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford
Empathy in the Aesthetic Tradition (2017)
Matravers, Derek
In: Maibom, Heidi ed. The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Empathy (pp. 77-85)
Publisher : Routledge | Published : London and New York
Life and Narrative (2016-11-24)
Matravers, Derek
In: Dodd, Julian ed. Art, Mind, and Narrative: Themes From the Work of Peter Goldie (pp. 35-46)
ISBN : 9780198769736 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford
Art and the negative emotions (2013-11-01)
Matravers, Derek
In: Levinson, Jerrold ed. Suffering Art Gladly: The Paradox of Negative Emotions in Art (pp. 207-223)
ISBN : 9780230349834 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : Houndmills
Art, expression, and emotion (2013-04-08)
Matravers, Derek
In: Gaut, Berys and McIver Lopes, Dominic eds. The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics (3rd Edn.). Routledge Philosophy Companions (pp. 404-414)
ISBN : 978-0-415-78286-9 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon
Wollheim (2013-04-03)
Matravers, Derek
In: Gaut, Berys and McIver Lopes, Dominic eds. The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics (3rd ed). Routledge Philosophy Companions (pp. 200-209)
ISBN : 978-0-415-78286-9 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon
Wonder and cognition (2012-10)
Matravers, Derek
In: Vasalou, Sophia ed. Practices of Wonder: Cross Disciplinary Perspectives (pp. 166-178)
ISBN : 978-1-61097-216-1 | Publisher : Pickwick Publications | Published : Eugene, OR
Empathy as a route to knowledge (2011-10-27)
Matravers, Derek
In: Coplan, Amy and Goldie, Peter eds. Empathy: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives (pp. 19-30)
ISBN : 9780199539956 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford, UK
Pictorial representation and psychology (2011-10-13)
Matravers, Derek
In: Schellekens, Elisabeth and Goldie, Peter eds. The Aesthetic Mind: Philosophy and Psychology (pp. 427-438)
ISBN : 9780199691517 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : New York, USA
Imagination, fiction, and documentary (2011-06)
Matravers, Derek
In: Carroll, Noel and Gibson, John eds. Narrative, Emotion, and Insight. Studies of the Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium (pp. 173-184)
ISBN : 9780271048574 | Publisher : Penn State University Press | Published : Pennsylvania, USA
Arousal theories (2011-02-07)
Matravers, Derek
In: Gracyk, Theodore and Kania, Andrew eds. Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Music. Routledge Philosophy Companions (pp. 212-223)
ISBN : 9780415486033 | Publisher : Taylor & Francis | Published : Abingdon, UK and New York, USA
Film, literature and non-cognitive affect (2011)
Matravers, Derek and Coplan, Amy
In: Carel, Havi and Tuck, Greg eds. New Takes in Film-Philosophy (pp. 117-134)
ISBN : 978-0-230-25029-1 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : Basingstoke
Expression in the arts (2010-01)
Matravers, Derek
In: Goldie, Peter ed. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Emotion. Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy (pp. 617-634)
ISBN : 9780199235018 | Publisher : Oxford University Press, USA | Published : Oxford, United Kingdom
Expression in Music (2007-09-27)
Matravers, Derek
In: Stock, Kathleen ed. Philosophers on Music: Experience, Meaning, and Work (pp. 95-116)
ISBN : 978-0-19-921334-4 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford, UK
The Dematerialization of the art object (2007-03-22)
Matravers, Derek
In: Goldie, Peter and Schellekens, Elisabeth eds. Philosophy and Conceptual Art (pp. 18-32)
ISBN : 9780199285556 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford, UK
Richard Wollheim (2007-01)
Matravers, Derek
In: Costello, Diarmuid and Vickery, Jonathan eds. Art: Key Contemporary Thinkers (pp. 140-143)
ISBN : 978-1-84520-319-1 | Publisher : Berg | Published : Oxford
Pictures, knowledge, and power: the case of T.J. Clark (2006)
Matravers, Derek
In: Kieran, Matthew and Lopes, Dominic eds. Knowing Art: Essays in Aesthetics and Epistemology. Philosophical Studies Series (107) (pp. 19-35)
ISBN : 9781402052644 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Dortrecht, Netherlands
The challenge of irrationalism and how not to meet it (2005-07)
Matravers, Derek
In: Kieran, Matthew ed. Contemporary debates in aesthetics and the philosophy of art. Contemporary Debates in Philosophy
ISBN : 140510239X | Publisher : Blackwell | Published : Oxford, UK
Ought Painting to Die? (2005-03)
Matravers, Derek
In: Van Eck, Caroline and Winters, Edward eds. Dealing with the Visual: Art History, Aesthetics and Visual Culture. Histories of Vision
ISBN : 0 7546 3428 0 | Publisher : Ashgate | Published : Aldershot, UK
Fictional assent and the (so-called) 'puzzle of imaginative resistance' (2003-04-17)
Matravers, Derek
In: Kieran, Matthew and Lopes, Dominic McIver eds. Imagination, philosophy and the arts (pp. 91-106)
ISBN : 415305160 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London, UK
The paradox of fiction: the report versus the perceptual model (1997)
Matravers, Derek
In: Hjort, Mette and Laver, Sue eds. Emotion and the Arts (pp. 78-92)
ISBN : 978-0-19-511105-7 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford
Figuring Out Figurative Art: Contemporary Philosophers on Contemporary Paintings (2014-08-19)
Matravers, Derek and Freeman, Damien eds.
ISBN : 978-1-84465-802-2 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon