Department of Philosophy

photo of Corine Besson

Dr Corine Besson

Post:Senior Lecturer In Philosophy (Philosophy)
Location:ARTS A A019

Telephone numbers
UK:01273 877079
International:+44 1273 877079

Research expertise:
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I am a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Philosophy at the University of Sussex. I did my undergraduate degree in Philosophy and French Literature at the University of Geneva. I then went to the University of Oxford for my postgraduate studies, where I was awarded a B.Phil. (2001) and a D.Phil. (2006) in Philosophy. Before starting at Sussex in 2013, I held positions at Oxford and Birkbeck College London. I am a member of SoNG, the Southern Normativity Group, which is in part based at Sussex:

I am also the Director of the Centre for Logic and Language (CeLL) at the Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London, where I convene the LEM - the Logic, Epistemology and Metaphysics Forum. For more information about the activities of the Centre, please visit the CeLL website: or drop me an email.

My principal areas of research are epistemology, the philosophy of logic and the philosophy of language. I am also interested in metaphysics and the history of analytic philosophy.

My current work focuses mostly on logic and its relation to reasoning - from foundational, normative and epistemological perspectives. I am currently writing a book entitled Logic, Reasoning, and the Tortoise (under contract with Oxford University Press). It is in large part concerned with the relevance of Lewis Carroll's regress argument (in his Mind 1895 paper "What the Tortoise Said to Achilles") to the philosophy of logic.

You can see samples of my work on:




The Foundations of Epistemic Normativity


This is a three years (1/2018-12/2021) international collaborative grant (worth £640'000)awarded by the Bank of Sweden to work on the foundations of epistemic normativity (abstract below). The team is formed of Anandi Hattiangadi (Professor of Philosophy, Stockholm University), Sara Packalén (Postdoc, Stockholm University) and me.

ABSTRACT. Many of us think that we ought to believe in anthropogenic climate change, that our belief is justified given the evidence and that climate-change skepticism is not rationally permitted. These epistemological claims seem normative—concerning what we ought, are justified, or are permitted to believe. Epistemological normativity raises foundational questions concerning the semantics, metaphysics and epistemology of epistemology; questions that have traditionally been asked about normative moral claims, such as ‘murder is wrong’. Do epistemological claims represent how things are, or just express approval of policies? Are some of these claims true absolutely, or only relative to particular perspectives? If so, are there objective facts that make them true? Can we know them? Our aim is to defend Robust Realism, which gives an affirmative answer to each of the above questions. We take issue with a dominant trend towards anti-realism in the study of the foundations of epistemology, largely derived from the idea that epistemology is normative. While contributing to our understanding of the foundations of epistemic normativity, this project will be relevant to topical issues, such as the popular debunking of science and rampant disregard for facts and evidence in public debate. According to Robust Realism, climate scientists’ evidence objectively justifies belief in anthropogenic climate change, and there is an absolute distinction between real, well-founded news and propaganda.


Recent Talks

‘Logical Generality and the Possibility of Deductive Reasoning’

The Epistemology of Reasoning Conference, Cologne, 27-29/6/2019; keynote address, 8th Vienna Forum for Analytic Philosophy Graduate Conference: The Normativity of Logic, Vienna, 24-26/6/2019; Joint MCMP-Mind Seminar, Ludwig-Maximilian Universität, Munich 6/6/2019; Formal Methods Seminar KCL, 1/3/2019.

‘Anti-Exceptionalism about Logic, Normativity and the A Priori’

Departmental Philosophical Colloquium, Hamburg University, 16/1/2019; Normativity and the A Priori Workshop, Stockholm University, 30-31/08/2018.

‘Carroll’s Regress, Logical Knowledge and Non-Cognitivism’

Philosophy Colloquium, Stanford University, 5/5/2019; Diaphora Workshop, University of Edinburgh, 29-30/5/2018.

‘Relativism about Future Contingents is Self-Refuting’ (with Hanandi Hattiangadi)

Diaophora Workshop V: Determinism and Open Choice, University of Neuchâtel, 12-14/12/2018.

‘The Normativity of Logic Articulated in Terms of Normative Reasons’

Cardiff Research Seminar, 5/12/2018, Norms and Reasons Conference, University of Zurich, 1-3/11/2018; Logic, Norms, and Reasoning Colloquium, Tenth German Society for Analytic Philosophy (GAP.10) Conference, Cologne, 17-20/9/2018.

‘Lewis Carroll’s Regress and Logical Expressivism’

Workshop on Expressivism, Knowledge and Truth, University College London, 19-20/10/2018; Bristol Philosophy Seminar, 6/3/2018; Glasgow Senior Seminar, 20/2/2018.

‘Reconciling Intentionality, Emptiness and Externalism’

The Role of Content in Mind, Language, and Metaphysics Workshop, Centre for Logic and Language (CeLL), Institute of Philosophy, School of Philosophy, University of London, 3-4/5/2018.


Public Engagement

In June 2016, I gave an Institute of Arts and Ideas (IAI) Academy Course on "Rationality and Knowledge", and participated in two public debates, on "Language and the World" and on "Rationality", at the HowTheLightsGetIn2016 - the Music and Philosophy Festival at Hay on Wye. The course, aimed at a wide audience, is now available to on the IAI website, here:                                  

As part of the course, there are in-video quiz questions to consolidate learning, suggested further readings, discussion boards and an end-of-course assessment set by me.

The debate on "Language and the World", with Nancy Cartwright and Hilary Lawson, is available here:



Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Philosophy