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Professor Andy Hamilton

Professor/Chair BoE/Director of Aesthetics, Ethics and Politics Research Cluster

Professor/Chair BoE/Director of Aesthetics, Ethics and Politics Research Cluster in the Department of Philosophy+44 (0) 191 33 46547
Professor in the Department of Philosophy in the Department of Music 


Andy Hamilton studied at St Andrews University for his MA, M.Phil and PhD. His PhD (1987), was "The Self and Self-Consciousness", supervised by Crispin Wright. He subsequently taught at every pre-Thatcherite university in Scotland except Aberdeen and Glasgow, was a Leverhulme Research Fellow at Sheffield 1988-90, and then a Lecturer at Stirling and Keele before arriving at Durham in 1994. He has supervised a range of PhD students in philosophy of mind and aesthetics. He has been working on the topic of self-consciousness since his Ph.D., although he now recognises that it is simply too difficult. However, he has published several articles on it in Philosophical Quarterly, European Journal of Philosophy and Australasian Journal of Philosophy. A monograph, The Self in Question: Memory, the Body and Self-Consciousness, was published by Palgrave Macmillan (2013). 

His areas of research are Philosophy of Mind, History of 19th and 20th Century Philosophy, and Wittgenstein - his Routledge Guidebook on "On Certainty" appeared in 2014. But he is now working more in Aesthetics and Political Philosophy, and has published articles in British Journal of Aesthetics and Journal of Art and Art Criticism. A monograph, Aesthetics and Music, was published by Continuum in 2007, and a book on improvisation, The Art of the Improviser, written with jazz saxophonist Lee Konitz, appeared in the same year, published by Michigan University Press. 

He recently published a book of conversations with free improviser Steve Beresford - Pianos Toys Music and Noise (Bloomsbury). His monograph Art and Entertainment (Routledge) appeared earlier in 2024, and a second edition of Aesthetics and Music is forthcoming with Bloomsbury. He is working on a book of conversations with Australian improv trio The Necks, and future projects include monographs on Billie Holiday, and on Tradition as an Aesthetic and Political Concept. He has co-edited collections on Scruton's Aesthetics, and on The Philosophy of Rhythm.

He is a jazz pianist and writes for "The Wire" and other contemporary music magazines, on jazz, contemporary composition and improvised music. This expertise has led to the creation of an Impact Case Study on "Aesthetics of Improvisation", for REF 2014. A workshop on the topic, involving leading musicians from jazz, improvised music and contemporary composition, was held in Durham in May 2013, and further workshops followed for REF 2020 and subsequently.


Please visit for further information and articles on Philosophy, and music.

Research Interests

At the moment I am focussing on Wittgenstein, issues in aesthetics notably the autonomy of art, and political philosophy especially the relation of liberalism and conservatism.

Undergraduate Teaching
Administrative duties

Chair of Board of Examiners


My research interests are broad and I would welcome enquiries from students wishing to pursue research in

   Aesthetics, for instance:

  • "In what sense did Kant advocate a separation of the value spheres of aesthetic and ethical?"
  • "What light does Kant's distinction between free and dependent beauty cast on the nature of design and artefactual beauty?"
  • "Does art aim at truth?"
  • "Is architecture an autonomous artform?"
  • "In what sense did Art come into existence only with the Renaissance?"
  • "Is music the universal art of sound?"
  • "Is the concept of the acousmatic a useful one in the philosophy of music?"
  • "Is movement the fundamental form of conceptualisting music?

   Wittgenstein, for instance:

  • "In what ways did Wittgenstein's conception of nonsense change from his early to his later philosophy?"
  • "What are the contributions of On Certainty to contemporary epistemology?"
  • "Does On Certainty develop an original critique of scepticism?"
  • "Is there a convincing Kantian interpretation of Wittgenstein's notion of framework or hinge propositions?"

   Philosophy of mind, for instance:

  • "Is philosophical humanism simply a liberal form of naturalism?"
  • "In what ways might sceptical doubt be manifested in behaviour?"

   Political philosophy, for instance:

  • "Is conservatism simply a form of scepticism about the political applications of theoretical reason?"
  • "In what ways is Millian liberalism superior to Rawlsian liberalism?"
  • "Is liberal elitism defensible?"

Research interests

  • Aesthetics
  • History of 19th and 20th century philosophy
  • Philosophy of mind especially self-consciousness
  • Political Philosophy especially liberalism and conservatism
  • Wittgenstein


Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article


Other (Print)

Supervision students