Chiara Brozzo

I am an Assistant Professor in Philosophy at the University of Birmingham.

I do research in philosophy of mind and cognitive science (including psychology), empirically-informed philosophy of action, and aesthetics, and I have research interests in the philosophy of happiness and in the philosophy of psychiatry.

My main research topic is agency. 

One strand of this project concerns the attitudes involved in bodily action production as well as in understanding the bodily actions performed by others.

As to action production, I have investigated how the philosophical notion of intention interlocks with the neuroscientific one of motor representation. I have suggested a revision to previous proposals concerning this (e.g., Pacherie 2008), and formulated, as an alternative, the notion of motor intention. 

I have also objected to the distinction between intentions for the future (a.k.a. distal intentions or prior intentions) and intentions for the present (a.k.a. proximal intentions or intentions in action), putting forward the idea that action planning and performance are better explained in terms of multiple token intentions of the same kind.

As to action understanding, I have conjectured that humans categorically perceive certain bodily actions, and I am looking into whether understanding others' bodily actions consists in a form of mindreading.

I have also worked on knowledge of action, by defending the idea that humans can know what they are doing to a striking level of detail thanks to their fine-grained intentions (Blomberg & Brozzo 2017). 

I have done theoretical research in the field of body representation, by trying to establish a connection between different body size estimation methods and the specific body representations into which they tap (Mölbert et al. 2017).

Working on action production, I became interested in another aspect of agency, that is, the motivations behind actions, in the form of preferences, beliefs and values that are very central to our self-conception. I am exploring how these preferences, beliefs and values are acquired and modified through subtle factors such as habit. I am currently focussing on transformative experiences, that is, experiences that teach us something new and also change our self-conception (Paul 2014, 2015; Ullmann-Margalit 2006), as gateways to acquiring core preferences, beliefs and values. Contrary to the idea that transformative experiences are rare, I argue that we are likely to undergo many transformative experiences, so that our self-conception is much more hostage to the vagaries of our lives than we usually like to think.

Lastly, I have a research project in aesthetics, aimed at challenging the boundary between fine arts and design. For example, I have defended the idea that some perfumes are works of art, and am currently exploring ways in which the aesthetic appreciation of some perfumes and the aesthetic appreciation of nature interact. I am also working on fashion design, investigating how to properly aesthetically appreciate certain instances of it by drawing on environmental aesthetics.