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Professor Richard Pettigrew

Professor Richard Pettigrew

Professor Richard Pettigrew
BA (Oxon), MA (Bristol), PhD (Bristol)

Professor of Philosophy

Area of research

The epistemology of uncertain beliefs; rational decisions; metaphysics and epistemology of mathematics.

Office 1.16
Cotham House,
Cotham Hill, Bristol BS6 6JL
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 331 0923


My recent research has been mainly in formal epistemology. In recent papers, I have pursued a research programme that I call epistemic utility theory. The strategy is to appeal to the notion of purely epistemic value as well as to the techniques of rational choice theory to provide novel and purely epistemic justifications for a range of epistemic norms. So far, I have considered the norms of Probabilism, Conditionalization, Jeffrey Conditionalization, the Principle of Indifference, and the Principal Principle.

I have a second research interest in the philosophy of mathematics, where I defend a variety of anti-platonist positions, such as eliminativist structuralism and instrumental nominalism.



Richard grew up near Edinburgh, but moved to Oxford in 1999 to study for BA in Mathematics and Philosophy, which he obtained in 2003.  After that, he moved to Bristol, where he read for an MA in Philosophy (2004) and PhD in Mathematical Logic (2008).  In 2008, he took up a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship for three years, before becoming a permanent Lecturer in the philosophy department in 2011, a Reader in 2012, and Professor of Philosophy in 2014. He was Head of the Department of Philosophy from 2014-15, and he has been Faculty Research Director for the Faculty of Arts since August 2017.


Richard has taught a wide range of courses:

  • Introduction to Formal Logic
  • Introduction to Metaphysics
  • A History of Scepticism from Pyrrho to Kant
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Kant's Theoretical Philosophy
  • Probability and Rationality
  • Death, Dying, and Disease.

He founded the Formal Methods Seminar for graduate students each year, which still runs.

Together with Tom Sperlinger, he created the Foundation Year in Arts and Humanities in 2013.


  • Formal epistemology Philosophy of mathematics Metaphysics of chance Decision theory and rational choice theory Modal logic



Department of Philosophy

Academics by department

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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