Matthew Kieran

Matthew Kieran


Brief Biography

Current research interests include working on a book for Oxford University Press on creativity and character, in particular work on creative virtues (such as curiosity) and vices (such as arrogance, vanity and procrastination). My broader research interests tend to coalesce around inter-sections between aesthetics, ethics and psychology. See the research interests heading below.

As an undergraduate I studied Philosophy and Psychology for the first two years, and then Philosophy for the final year at the University of Bristol. My graduate study was in Philosophy at the University of St. Andrews. 

Professional responsibilities include being an Executive Committee Member and Trustee of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, member of the AHRC Science in Culture Advisory Board, AHRC Peer Review College member, and editorial board member for the British Journal of Aesthetics and the European Journal of Philosophy. I am a former Chair and Vice-President of the British Society of Aesthetics.

Grants include the large scale AHRC Method in Philosophical Aesthetics: the Challenge from the Sciences, 2009 – 2012, as co-investigator, and a personal Leverhulme Resarch Fellowship, 2012 – 2013.


Selected Articles

“Creativity, Vanity and Narcissism” in B. Gaut and M. Kieran (eds.), Creativity and Philosophy (Routledge, 2018).

“Creativity as an Epistemic Virtue” in H. Battaly (ed.), Routledge Handbook to Virtue Epistemology (Routledge, 2018).

“Creativity, Virtue and the Challenges from Natural Talent, Ill-Being and Immorality”, Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 75 (2014).

"Creativity as a Virtue of Character" in Elliot Samuel Paul and Scott Barry Kaufman (eds.), The Philosophy of Creativity (Oxford University Press, 2014).

“Mere Exposure to Bad Art”, co-authored with A. Meskin, M. Moore and M. Phelan, British Journal of Aesthetics, 53 (2013).

"The Vice of Snobbery: Aesthetic Knowledge, Justification and Virtue in Art Appreciation", Philosophical Quarterly, 60 (2010).

“Why Ideal Critics are not Ideal: Aesthetic Character, Motivation and Value”, British Journal of Aesthetics, 48 (2008).

"Forbidden Knowledge: The Challenge of Cognitive Immoralism" in S. Gardner and J. Bermudez (eds.), Art and Morality (London: Routledge, 2002).

"On Obscenity: The Thrill and Repulsion of the Morally Prohibited", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, LXIV (2002).


See Matthew's personal website for full information and recent downloadable versions with some papers also available at White Rose Research Online.



'...a fine discussion of one of the most important topics in aesthetics: the value of art. Its arguments and conclusions are both original and accessible to a broad audience.' Robert Stecker, Central Michigan University USA.

'Kieran is a philosopher with the nerve of an art critic, who, in the manner of Arthur Danto, comfortably exchanges his roles...[RA] brings forth with vivid detail the durable effects of artworks ... makes a strong case for the complexity and power of art.' Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 64 (2): 285-87.

'A tour de force of nuanced interdisciplinary scholarship.' Robert M. Entman, J. B. and M. C. Shapiro Professor of Media & Public Affairs, George Washington University.

'This is a very important book-a 'must read.' The intellectual scope is astonishing: the problem it addresses is quite crucial-namely the moral incoherence of the contemporary world and the way that this shows up in empirical research into individual attitudes/opinions/tastes/judgements. It is clearly a cumulative critical reassessment of the implications of research going back to the sixties. It's original, powerful, thoughtful and spot-on . . .A major piece of work.' Paddy Scannell, Department of Communication Studies, University of Michigan.


Recent Edited Collections

  • Creativity and Philosophy, co-edited with B. Gaut (Routledge, 2018).
  • Philosophical Aesthetics and the Sciences of Art, co-edited with G. Currie, A. Meskin and M. Moore (Cambridge University Press, 2014).
  • Aesthetics and the Sciences of Mind, co-edited with G. Currie, A. Meskin and J. Robson (Oxford University Press, 2014).


  • Director of Postgraduate Research Studies

Research interests

The primary focus of my research interests has been aesthetics and the philosophy of art. I am presently working on creativity esp. in relation to the role that character or personality plays in particular concerning creative virtues (such as curiosity) and vices (such as arrogance, vanity and procrastination). This work has wider inter-relations with epistemic and moral virtue theory as well as empirical psychology. The work also has some important practical implications (e.g. in terms of how we think of what it is to be a creative person, how creativity might be cultivated or undermined etc.).

Broader aesthetics research interests include the values of art, aesthetic or artistic appreciation, imagination, inter-actions between aesthetic or artistic and ethical evaluations. I have also worked on more straightforwardly ethical issues (e.g. obscenity, privacy, media ethics). 

In general my research approach might be conceived of as being broadly analytic in a way which engages with the empirical. I also enjoy doing inter-disciplinary empirical work (including experimental and qualitative work).

<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>

Student education

I enjoy teaching a wide range of modules. At undergraduate level this includes subjects in aesthetics and the philosophy of art, the history of philosophy, moral philosophy, philosophy of mind, and political philosophy. At MA level this includes topics in aesthetics, analytic philosophy, and the history of philosophy.

I also enjoy supervising PhD students and post-doctoral researchers. Previous supervisees include Kathleen Stock, Philip Mallaband, Carl Baker, Levno Plato and James Rimmer and post-doctoral researchers such as Margaret Moore.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Aesthetic, Moral and Political Philosophy
  • Philosophy
<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>