Dr Andrew Kirton

Dr Andrew Kirton


My background is in philosophy with a focus on normative/applied ethics and philosophy of action. I did my BA, MRes and PhD at University of Manchester (thesis on the nature of interpersonal trust), where I also worked as a teaching assistant in philosophy for several years. Following that I was a research assistant on the British Academy funded ‘Future of the Corporation’ project, based at Blavatnik School of Govt. in Oxford. This was a project researching the crisis of trust in private institutions and the duties on businesses to be trustworthy. I joined the IDEA Centre in Sept 2018 around the completion of that project.

Before pursuing a PhD/going back to academic stuff, I worked in local government HR for several years, at the start of the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition program of austerity circa 2010. One of my roles was helping administrate severance packages of public sector workers in e.g. youth programmes and homelessness; an upbeat start to being a UK taxpayer.

Research interests

My main research looks at how moral attitudes (e.g. blame, betrayal, guilt) and phenomena (e.g. promises, obligations) come about from more basic features of human agency, and biological/psychological dispositions, drives, states. I mainly look at the nature of trust, and why other people and their actions matter to us in the way they do – so why we tend to think/feel it really important that others will basically be consistent, reliable, helpful parts of our lives. I generally focus on philosophy of action and insights from psychology, neuroscience and psychotherapy, especially attachment theory.

I also write about trust and the role of corporations/business in society. I am currently researching how social trust (willingness to trust fellow citizens) grounds the system of moral norms in a community, so how morality depends on/comes from trust, and how private enterprise might undermine this kind of trust, and thus the moral fabric.

At the moment I am also interested in (i.e. writing lots of incoherent post-its about) issues around technological progress such as ethics of big data, AI, and issues of privacy, bias, injustice in these areas. I am also interested in/worried by current standards of discussion, discourse (e.g. behaviour of people on social media, political commentary etc), the concept of rationality, and money/economic thinking as a social institution.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • 2009 - BA (Hons) Philosophy
  • 2014 - MRes Philosophy
  • 2018 - PhD Philosophy

Student education

Office hours are:

Monday 1pm – 2pm

Wednesday 2pm – 3pm.

Please email me in advance to let me know if you plan on dropping in. Due to my teaching schedule being non-standard, I can’t guarantee these times will always be free each week.


My main teaching covers:

Business ethics issues e.g. the purpose of private enterprise, ethics of advertising, ethics of big data.

Issues in philosophy of science, and ethical issues for scientists; animal experimentation, ethics of pharmaceuticals and ethics around (il)legality of recreational drugs.

Ethics of data, AI, privacy, consent.

Trust, confidentiality, professionalism.