Isaiah Berlin Lecture
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Dr Hanna Pickard

Wellcome Trust Biomedical Ethics Clinical Research Fellow
Oxford Centre for Neuroethics

All Souls College
Oxford; OX1 4AL

Hanna Pickard

Research Interests

I am a philosopher of mind and psychiatry and also a therapist working in a NHS therapeutic community for people with personality disorder. My research aims to integrate the tools and traditions of analytic philosophy with scientific knowledge and clinical practice. I am currently funded by the Wellcome Trust to pursue a project investigating responsibility and morality within personality and related disorders. I also work on addiction, self-harm, violence, psychosis, and the nature of blame and other moral emotions. You can find out more about some of these projects below.

Areas of interest: philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychiatry, moral psychology, epistemology, biomedical and clinical ethics

Career & Education

Academic Career
2010 – 2015 Wellcome Trust Biomedical Ethics Clinical Research Fellow, Oxford Centre for Neuroethics
2009 – 2010 Research Fellow, Oxford Centre for Neuroethics
2006 – 2013 Fifty-Pound Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford
1997 – 2005 Prize Fellow in Philosophy, All Souls College, Oxford
1995 – 1997 Commonwealth Scholar in Philosophy, Magdalen College, Oxford

Clinical Post:

2008 – Therapist at the Oxfordshire Complex Needs Service, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
2001 D.Phil. in Philosophy, University of Oxford
1997 B.Phil. in Philosophy, University of Oxford

B.A. (Hons) in Philosophy, Queen’s University, Canada

Responsibility without Blame

Within the clinic, we often take a stance towards patients who do wrong or perpetrate harm that I call ‘Responsibility without Blame’. This stance involves holding patients responsible and accountable for their behaviour but not blaming them, in order to help them to change. At first glance, this stance can seem conceptually incoherent, let alone impossible to achieve in practice. I have developed a conceptual framework that articulates the concepts of responsibility and blame implicit in this stance, and explored how this separation can in practice be achieved. I am currently developing this research as a ‘Responsibility without Blame’ training for prison officers as part of a joint Department of Health and Ministry of Justice initiative to increase awareness of personality disorder and create a more psychologically informed environment within prisons.

To hear a Philosophy Bites podcast about this research, click here.

For an article on this research written for a more clinical audience, see my ‘Responsibility without blame: empathy and the effective treatment of personality disorder’ in Philosophy, Psychiatry, Psychology (2011).

For an article on this research written for a more general and philosophical audience, see my ‘Responsibility without blame: philosophical reflections on clinical practice’ in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Psychiatry, OUP (forthcoming).

For an article about the potential value of this framework to the criminal law, see my article co-authored with Nicola Lacey From the consulting room to the court room? Taking the clinical model of responsibility without blame into the legal realm’ in The Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (2012).

For some background reading about the nature of personality disorder, see my ‘ What is personality disorder?’ which is the Introduction to a Special Issue of Philosophy, Psychiatry, Psychology that I edited on personality disorder. See also my ‘What Aristotle can teach us about personality disorder' commissioned by the National Personality Disorder Website.

For some articles on related topics see:

How Therapeutic Communities work: Specific factors related to positive outcome’ (with Steve Pearce) in International Journal of Social Psychiatry (2012).

'Finding the will to recover: philosophical perspectives on agency and the sick role' Journal of Medical Ethics (with Steve Pearce) (2010).

Mental Illness is Indeed a Myth’ in L. Bortolotti and M. Broome (eds.) Psychiatry as Cognitive Science: Philosophical Perspectives: OUP (2009).


My research on addiction focuses on using philosophical analysis and clinical practice to redress the standard conception of addiction as a neurobiological disease of compulsion. I am currently hosting a Frontiers Journal Research Topic on Alternative Models of Addiction together with Serge Ahmed and Bennett Foddy. To find out more about this project click here .

For a summary article of my research on addiction, see my ‘The purpose in chronic addictionAmerican Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience (2012).

For some other articles and shorter pieces on addiction see:

Addiction in context: philosophical lessons from a personality disorder clinic’ (with Steve Pearce) in Addiction and Self-control, N. Levy, ed. OUP (forthcoming).

What is addiction?’ (with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong) in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Psychiatry, OUP (forthcoming).

The instrumental rationality of addiction’ Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2011).

Review of Addiction and Responsibility, J. Poland and G. Graham, eds. in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (2011).

To hear an interview with me on BBC 4’s The Moral Maze about sex addiction and the medicalization of immoral behaviour, click here (interview begins 27 minutes into the programme).

Selected Articles on Other Topics

'Irrational blame' Analysis (2013)

'Psychopathology and the ability to do otherwise' Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (2013)

'Substance abuse as a risk factor for violence in mental illness: some implications for forensic psychiatric practice and clinical ethics' (with Seena Fazel) Current Opinion in Psychiatry 2013.

Schizophrenia and the epistemology of self-knowledge’ The European Journal of Analytic Philosophy: Special Edition in the Philosophy of Psychiatry (2010).

Review of Grant Gillett’s The Mind and its Discontents, The Journal of Applied Philosophy (2010).
(This is an electronic version of an article published in the Journal for Applied Philosophy: complete citation information for the final version of the paper, as published in the print edition of the Journal for Applied Philosophy, is available on the Blackwell Synergy online delivery service, accessible via the journal's website).

‘The Moral Content of Psychiatric Treatment’ The British Journal of Psychiatry (with Steve Pearce) (2009).

Knowledge of Action without Observation’  Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (2004).

Emotions and the Problem of Other Minds’ in A. Hatzymoysis (ed.) Philosophy and the Emotions: CUP (2003).

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