Robin Le Poidevin

Robin Le Poidevin


I joined the Department in 1989, after a year as Gifford Research Fellow at St Andrews and postgraduate work at Cambridge. My first degree, at Oxford, was in Philosophy and Psychology.

From 1998 to 2001 I was Head of Department, and in 2000 was appointed to a personal chair in Metaphysics, retiring in 2022. I was, from 2010 to 2015, Editor of Religious Studies, and am a past President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion.

I gave the 2007 Stanton Lectures in the Philosophy of Religion at the University of Cambridge, and in 2012 I was Alan Richardson Fellow in Theology at the University of Durham.

Research Interests

  • Philosophy of Religion: metaphysics of Christian doctrine, non-realist approaches to religion, agnosticism, projectivism
  • Metaphysics: time, space, causality, identity
  • Philosophy of Mind: perception, memory, perspectival representations, space and mind 
  • Aesthetics: theories of fiction, depiction in art, photography and film

Selected Publications

  • And Was Made Man: Mind, Metaphysics, and Incarnation (Oxford University Press, 2023)
  • Religious Fictionalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019)
  • The Images of Time: An Essay on Temporal Representation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)
  • 'Time without Change (in Three Steps)', American Philosophical Quarterly Vol. 47, 2010, pp. 171-80
  • 'The Temporal Prison', Analysis Vol. 71, 2011, pp. 456-65
  • 'Playing the God Game: the perils of religious fictionalism', in Andrei A. Buckareff and Yujin Nagasawa, eds., Alternative Concepts of God (Oxford Uniervsity Press, 2016)
  • 'The Arrow of Mind', Journal of Consciousness Srudies Vol. 24, 2017, pp. 112-26

Complete List of Publications


2023, And Was Made Man: Mind, Metaphysics, and Incarnation, Oxford: Oxford University Press

2019, Religious Fictionalism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

2010, Agnosticism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 134pp

2007, The Images of Time: An Essay on Temporal Representation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 193pp

2003, Travels in Four Dimensions: The Enigmas of Space and Time, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003 (translations: German 2004; Chinese 2006; Romanian 2007; Korean 2010, Japanese 2012), 275pp

1996, Arguing for Atheism: an Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, London: Routledge, (Turkish translation, 2000), 159pp

1991, Change, Cause and Contradiction: a Defence of the Tenseless Theory of Time, London: Macmillan, 160pp

Edited Volumes

2009, The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics, London: Routledge (co-edited with Peter Simons, Andrew McGonigal and Ross P. Cameron), 609pp

2008, Being: Developments in Contemporary Metaphysics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 212pp

1998, Questions of Time and Tense, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 293pp

1993, The Philosophy of Time, Oxford: Oxford University Press (co-edited with Murray MacBeath), 230pp

Parts of books

2023, ‘Stepping Stone to Atheism? The instability of agnosticism’, in Victoria Harrison (ed.), Atheisms, London: Routledge

2018, ‘Love, Identity, and the Way of Ideas in Twelfth Night’, in Craig Bourne and Emily Caddick Bourne (eds.), Shakespeare and Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press

2017a, ‘Motion and the Futurists: capturing the dynamic sensation’, in Ian Phillips (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Temporal Experience, London: Routledge, pp. 315-25

2017b, ‘Memory and the Metaphysics of Time’, in Sven Bernecker and Kourken Michaelian (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Memory, London: Routledge, pp. 219-27

2015a, ‘Perception and Time’, in Mohan Matthen (ed.), Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Perception, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 459-74

2015b, ‘Playing the God Game: The perils of religious fictionalism’, in Andrei Buckareff and Yujin Nagasawa (eds.), Alternative Conceptions of God, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 178-91

2014, 'Projecting God', in Andrew Moore (ed), God, Mind and Knowledge, Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 157-70

2013, 'Time and Freedom', in Heather Dyke and Adrian Bardon (eds), A Companion to the Philosophy of Time, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 535-48

2012, 'The Necessity of God and the Psychology of Counterfactual Thinking', in Yujin Nagasawa (ed), Scientific Approaches to the Philosophy of Religion, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 11-27 

2011a, 'The Incarnation: divine embodiment and the divided mind', in Anthony O'Hear (ed.), Philosophy of Religion,  Royal Institute of Philosophy London Lecture Series, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 269-85

2011b, 'Multiple Incarnations and Distributed Persons', in Anna Marmodoro and Jonathan Hill (eds.), The Metaphysics of the Incarnation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 228-41

2009a, 'General Introduction: What is metaphysics?', and 'Introduction to Part III: The study of nature', in Routledge Companion to Metaphysics, London: Routledge, pp. xviii-xxii and 415-19

2009b, 'Existence', in John Shand (ed.), Central Issues of Philosophy, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 81-94

2008, 'The Impossibility of God?', in Paul Copan and Chad Meister (eds.) Philosophy of Religion: Classic and Contemporary Issues, Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 188-201

2007a, 'Action at a Distance', in Antony O'Hear (ed.) Philosophy of Science, Royal Institute of Philosophy London Lecture Series, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 21-36

2007b, 'The Beginning of Time', In Thomas Mller (ed.) Philosophie der Zeit: Neue analytische Anstze, Frankfurt: Klosterman, pp. 115-38

2006, 'Memory and the A-Series', in Friedrich Stadler and Michael Stltzner (eds.) Time and History: Proceedings of the 28th International Wittgenstein Symposium, Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag, pp. 31-42

2003, 'Why Tenses Need Real Times', in Aleksandar Joki and Quentin Smith (eds.), Time, Tense and Reference, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp. 305-24

2002, 'Zeno's Arrow and the Significance of the Present', in Craig Callender (ed.), Time, Reality and Experience, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 57-72

2001, 'Is Precedence a Secondary Quality?', and 'Reply to Smith and Tooley', in L. Nathan Oaklander (ed.), The Importance of Time, Dordrecht: Kluwer, pp. 249-61, and pp.285-91

2000, 'Space and the Chiral Molecule', in Nalini Bhushan and Stuart Rosenfeld (eds.), Of Minds and Molecules: New Philosophical Perspectives on Chemistry, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 129-42

1998, 'Introduction', and 'The Past, Present and Future of the Debate About Tense', in Robin Le Poidevin, ed, Questions of Time and Tense, Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 1-11 and 13-42

1993, 'Introduction' (with Murray MacBeath), and 'Postscript to "Relationism and Temporal Topology"', in Robin Le Poidevin and Murray MacBeath (eds.), The Philosophy of Time, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 1-20 and 162-7

Journal Articles

2017a ‘“Eternity Shut in a Span”: the times of God incarnate’, Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 8, pp. 207-26

2017b ‘The Arrow of Mind’, Journal of Consciousness Studies, Vol. 24, nos. 3-4, pp. 112-26

2017c, ‘Screen Present and Fictional Present’, Manuscrito, Vol.39, n.4, pp.315-330

2016, ‘Once for All: the tense of the Atonement’, European Journal for the Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 8 (4), pp. 179--194

2015a, ‘Stopped Clocks, Silent Telephones and Sense Data: some problems of time perception’, Topoi, Vol. 34, pp. 241-8

2015b, ‘Moore’s Conception of Metaphysics’, Philosophical Topics Vol. 43, pp. 319-27

2013, 'Kenosis, Necessity and Incarnation', Heythrop Journal, Vol. 54, pp. 214-27

2011a, 'The Temporal Prison', Analysis Vol. 71, pp. 456-65

2011b, 'Euthyphro and the Goodness of God Incarnate', Ratio Vol. 24, pp. 206-221

2010, 'Time without Change (in Three Steps)', American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 47, pp. 171-80

2009a, 'Incarnation: metaphysical issues', Philosophy Compass , Vol. 4, pp. 703-14

2009b, 'Identity and the Composite Christ: an Incarnational dilemma', Religious Studies, Vol. 45, pp. 167-86

2009c, 'Divine Person or Personal Ground of Being? Making philosophical sense of a theological distinction', Theology, Vol. CXII, pp. 92-7

2006, 'Truth-Makers and Geometrical Inference: Reply to Gibb', Philosophical Papers, Vol. 35, pp. 185-91

2005a, 'The Cheshire Cat Problem and Other Spatial Obstacles to Backwards Time Travel', The Monist, Vol. 88, pp. 336-52

2005b, 'Missing Elements and Missing Premises: A combinatorial argument for the ontological reduction of chemistry', British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 56, pp. 117-34

2004a, 'A Puzzle Concerning Time Perception', Synthese, Vol. 142, pp. 109-42

2004b, 'Space, Supervenience and Substantivalism', Analysis, Vol. 64, pp. 191-8

2003, 'Theistic Discourse and Fictional Truth', Revue Internationale de Philosophie Vol. 57, pp. 271-84

2001, 'Fate, Fiction and the Future', Philosophical Papers, Vol. 30, pp. 69-92

2000, 'Continuants and Continuity', The Monist, Vol. 83, pp. 381-98

1999a, 'Can Beliefs Be Caused By Their Truth-Makers?', Analysis, Vol. 59, 1999, pp. 148-56

1999b, 'Egocentric and Objective Time', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Vol. 99, pp. 19-36

1997, 'Time and the Static Image', Philosophy, Vol. 72, pp. 175-88

1996, 'Time, Tense and Topology', Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 46., 1996, pp. 467-81

1995a, 'Internal and External Questions About God', Religious Studies, Vol. 31, 1995, pp. 485-500

1995b, 'Worlds within Worlds? The paradoxes of embedded fiction', British Journal of Aesthetics, Vol. 35, pp. 227-38

1994, 'The Chemistry of Space', Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 72, pp. 77-88

1993, 'Lowe on McTaggart', Mind, Vol. 102, 1993, pp. 163-70

1992, 'On the Acausality of Time, Space and Space-time', Analysis, Vol. 52, pp. 146-54

1991a, 'Fables and Models II: Abstraction and Explanation in Physics', Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume 65, pp. 69-82

1991b, 'Creation in a Closed Universe, or Have physicists disproved the existence of God?', Religious Studies, Vol. 27, pp. 39-48

1990, 'Relationism and Temporal Topology: Physics or Metaphysics?', Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 40, 1990, pp. 419-32

1988a, 'The Principle of Reciprocity and a Proof of the Non-Simultaneity of Cause and Effect', Ratio, Vol. 1, pp. 52-62

1988b, 'Time and Truth in Fiction', British Journal of Aesthetics, Vo. 28, pp. 248-58

1987, 'Time, Change and the "Indexical Fallacy"', Mind, Vol. 96, 1987, pp. 534-8 (with D.H. Mellor)

Encyclopaedia articles

2015 ‘Agnosticism’ and ‘Space’, in Robert Segal and Kocku von Stuckrad (eds.), Vocabulary for the Study of Religion, Leiden: E.J. Brill

2006, 'Space and Time', in Anthony Grayling, Andrew Pyle and Naomi Goulder (eds.) The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy, London: Thoemmes Continuum, pp. 2997-9

2005a, 'Presentism', in Edward Craig (ed.), The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online

2005b, 'British Philosophy Today', 'Chemistry, Philosophy of', 'Narrative', 'Overdetermination' and 'Underdetermination', in Ted Honderich, ed., The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, 2nd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press

2002, 'Time', in Nicholas Bunnin and E.P. Tsui-James (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Philosophy, 2nd ed., Oxford: Blackwell, 2002, pp. 82-6

2000, 'The Perception of Time', in Edward Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Online Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2000,

1998a, 'Change', in Edward Craig (ed.), The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, London: Routledge, 1998, pp. 274-6

1998b, 'Continuants', in ibid., pp. 652-4

Articles for general audience

2016a, ‘The Two-Way Doomsday Machine’, Think, Vol. 15, no. 42, pp. 9-14

2016b, ‘The Apocalypse’, The Philosopher’s Magazine, Issue 72, pp. 73-4

2016c, ‘Is Metaphysics an Emotional Matter?’, Philosopher’s Magazine Issue 74

2013, ‘Matthew Arnold’, in Patrick Derham and John Taylor (eds.), Cultural Olympians, Buckingham: University of Buckingham Press, pp. 61-73

2012, ‘No Time Like the Present’, The Philosopher’s Magazine Issue, 57, pp. 42-7

2001a, 'Puzzles About Time', in Stuart McCready (ed.) The Discovery of Time, London: MQ Publications, pp. 227-43

2001b, 'Ancient and Medieval Views About Time', in Time: Proceedings of the Fourteenth Christ and the Cosmos Conference, Oxford: Christ and the Cosmos Initiative, pp.7-20

1999, 'Probability, Possible Worlds and Parallel Universes', Stoa, Vol. 1, 1999, pp. 79-96

1995, 'Autonomous Agents or God's Automata? Human Freedom from the Divine Perspective', Cogito, Vol. 9, pp. 35-41

1995, 'Time, Death and the Atheist', Cogito, Vol. 9, pp. 145-52

Review articles

2017, ‘In Our Element’, Review of Raymond Tallis, Time and Lamentation, Times Literary Supplement, No. 5979, November 3, pp. 10-1

1999, 'Recent Work on Time', Philosophical Books, Vol. 40, pp. 1-9

1997, 'Relative Realities', Essay Review of Mauro Dorato, Time and Reality: Spacetime Physics and the Objectivity of Temporal Becoming, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, Vol. 28, 1997, pp. 541-6

1991, Critical Notice of J.R. Lucas, The Future, Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 41, pp. 333-39


2017, Craig Bourne and Emily Caddick Bourne, Time in Fiction, British Journal of Aesthetics Vol 57, pp. 440-3

2009, Yuval Dolev, Time and Realism: metaphysical and antimetaphysical perspectives, Mind, Vol. 118, 1121-1124

2004, Barry Dainton, Time and Space, Philosophy, Vol. 79, pp 491-4

2003, William Lane Craig, Time and the Metaphysics of Relativity, Religious Studies, Vol. 39, pp. 363-6

2002a, E.J. Lowe, The Possibility of Metaphysics, International Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 42, pp. 546-7

2002b, Roger Trigg, Rationality and Religion, Mind, Vol. 110, pp. 185-8

1999, David Cockburn, Other Times: Philosophical Perspectives on Past, Present and Future, Philosophical Investigations, Vol. 22, pp. 106-1

1998a, Larry Laudan, Beyond Positivism and Relativism: Theory, Method and Evidence, Philosophy, Vol. 73, pp. 36-9

1998b, Michael Tooley, Time, Tense, and Causation, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 49, 1998, pp. 365-9

1998c, Colin Crowder (ed.), God and Reality: Essays on Christian Non-Realism, Modern Believing, New Series, Vol. 39, pp. 38-41

1998d, J.J.C. Smart and J.J. Haldane, Atheism and Theism, European Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 6, pp. 99-103

1998e, Peter Forrest, God without the Supernatural: A Defense of Scientific Theism, Philosophical Books, Vol. 39, 1998, pp. 72-5

1997, Quentin Smith and L. Nathan Oaklander, Time, Change and Freedom, Philosophical Books, Vol. 38, 1997, pp. 77-9

1996a, L. Nathan Oaklander and Quentin Smith (eds.), The New Theory of Time, International Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 36, pp. 111-12

1996b, Graham Nerlich, What Spacetime Explains and The Shape of Space (2nd Ed.), Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 46, 1996, pp. 127-31

1995a, Quentin Smith, Language and Time, Philosophical Review, Vol. 104, 1995, pp. 333-35

1995b, Ferrel Christensen, Space-Like Time, Reviews in Religion and Theology, 1995, pp. 80-1

1995c, Henry Plotkin, The Nature of Knowledge: Concerning Adaptations, Instincts and the Evolution of Intelligence, Reviews in Religion and Theology, pp. 46-9

1994, William Lane Craig and Quentin Smith, Theism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology, Religious Studies, Vol. 31, 1994, pp. 527-9

1993, Alan Padgett, God, Eternity and the Nature of Time, The Journal of Theological Studies, Vol. 44, 1993, pp. 803-7

1992, Nicholas Jardine, The Scenes of Inquiry: On the Reality of Questions in the Sciences, Philosophical Books, Vol. 33, 1992, pp. 189-91

1991a, David Farmer, Being in Time, Mind, Vo. 100, 1991, pp. 388-90

1991b, Michael Banner, The Justification of Science and the Rationality of Religious Belief, Philosophical Books, Vol. 32, 1991, pp. 126-7

1990, G. Gabbay and F. Guenthner (ed.), Handbook of Philosophical Logic, Vol. IV, Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 40, 1990 pp. 395-7

1988, David Lewis, On The Plurality of Worlds, Cambridge Review, Vol. 109, 1988, pp. 34-5


Research interests

1. Christian doctrine and contemporary metaphysics

Under the banner 'Analytic Theology', philosophers of religion have been concerned to rearticulate key components of Christian doctrine using the concepts and debates within analytic philosophy. I recently publised a monograph, And Was Made Man: Mind, Metaphysics and Incarnation, with Oxford University Press, based on the Stanton Lectures in the Philosophy of Religion that I delivered at the University of Cambridge in the Michaelmas Term of 2007. The aim of the book is to explore the Christian doctrine of the incarnation in the context of issues contemporary metaphysics, incuding debates over the nature of identity, time, necessity, causation and embodiment. It defends a 'kenotic' account of the incarantaion, according to which the Son gavce up some of the characteristic divine properties in order to become incarnate. I focus on some of the properties traditionally ascribed to the divine which pose particularly sharp challenges to kenoticism: immateriality, necessity, timelessness, and being the ground of goodness.

2. Religious Fictionalism

I began to develop a fictionalist position concerning religious discourse, drawing on work in philosophy of science and aesthetics, in my Arguing for Atheism (1996). This struck me as a more defensible form of religous non-realism than either non-cognitivism or religious positivism, both of which tended to characterise the movement known as 'raical theology'. My attempts to articulate religious fictionalism since, now including related work on agnosticism, was brought together in a short monograph entitled Religious Fictionalism, in the new Cambridge Elements series published by Cambridge Unievrsity Press. I am also interested in developing a position I (perhaps somewhat hubristically) call 'the new agnosticism', where the agnosticism in question concerns the semantics of religious discourse.

3. Philosophy of time

A significant proportion of my published research between 1987 and 2007 was in the philosophy of time and related areas. Since the mid 1990s I have been particularly interested in the nature and variety of representations of time, and how metaphysical issues in time (in particular, the question of whether the passage of time is real or perspectival) connect with our understanding of the mechanisms underlying representation in its various form: perception, memory, language, fiction, art, photography and film. These questions were explored in my book The Images of Time (2007). The overall moral was that the psychology and epistemology of perception and memory (and representation more generally) provides a neglected means of investigating the nature of time. I defended a ‘B-theory’ of time, according to which the passage of time is represented but not instantiated. More recently I have become interested in the extent to which McTaggart's paradox has a counterpart in our understanding of temporal experience, and the 'conceptual problem of other times'.

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


  • MA Oxford
  • PhD Cambridge
  • FHEA

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Philosophy of Religion and Theology

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>