Lani Watson

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow


I work in epistemology and the philosophy of education, drawing on applied virtue and social epistemology and the epistemology of education. My research focuses on the role that the practice of questioning, and the intellectual virtues of curiosity and inquisitiveness, play in everyday life - in social, political, and educational contexts. In 2017 I completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing, at the University of Oklahoma, where I examined the role that questioning plays in democratic processes and institutions, such as the media. In my current position, as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, I am building on this research in order to develop and pilot a technological intervention designed to helps students ask better questions.  


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Research summary

I am interested in the many ways in which the practice of asking questions affects our everyday lives. My research focuses on the role that questioning plays in helping us to learn and understand, and to participate in social and political institutions. I view education as a primary context for training the skills involved in good questioning and am currently developing a technological intervention, based on philosophical principles, aimed at improving student questioning in the classroom

For more on the project, see below, or visit my professional website at

Knowledge exchange

Selected Knowledge Exchange and impact activities include:

2015-2017 (Online Philosophy and Education Network): Website (currently under construction) providing an online home for philosophers, educational researchers, teachers, and policy-makers in Scotland interested in promoting and researching the educational benefits of philosophy in schools. 


Create a Philosophy TimeTree workshop: Interactive philosophy workshop for undergraduates, hosted during Innovative Learning Week at the University of Edinburgh.

Children’s University workshop: Workshop introducing basic epistemology to school children, in collaboration with the Children’s University Trust, hosted by Stoneyhill Primary School, Edinburgh.

Philosophy For Children: Completed Philosophy For Children training with the Philosophy Foundation.

Affiliated research centres

Research activities

View all 17 activities on Research Explorer

Project activity

My current research aims to develop and pilot a technology designed to help students ask better questions. I ask whether we can improve student questioning, through technology, and, if so, whether doing so has a positive impact on learning. Questioning is a familiar part of our everyday lives. It is essential for gathering information and a critical skill for engaging in democratic processes and institutions, such as the media. Yet schools and universities places little emphasis on the ability to ask good questions, and focus instead on the ability to answer.

Can we improve questioning in the classroom, through technology, and, if so, what are the educational and societal benefits of doing so. The research combines contemporary epistemology and educational theory with experimental philosophy and psycholinguistics.

For more on the project, visit my professional website at

View all 9 publications on Research Explorer

Conference details

Recent invited and peer-reviewed presentations include:


"Educating for Inquisitiveness: Not By Example." Aretai Centre Annual Conference, Genoa, Italy.

“Systematic Epistemic Rights Violations in the Media: A Brexit Case Study.” Joint Session, University of Edinburgh, UK.

"British Rights 'Under Attack'." Poster presentation, Royal Institute of Philosophy Conference, Sheffield, UK.

"Why we shouldn’t educate for inquisitiveness by example." Bled Philosophical Conference, Bled, Slovenia.

“Systematic Epistemic Rights Violations in the Media: A Brexit Case Study.” Beacon Project Workshop, Wake Forest University, SC, USA.

"Virtue and Vice in the Media." Virtue Forum Luncheon, University of Oklahoma, OK, USA.


“Why Should We Educate For Inquisitiveness in a Democracy.” CSLEE Values and Leadership in Education, University of Western Ontario, Canada.

“Why We Do Deserve Credit For Everything We Know and Should Educate Accordingly” Mini-workshop series, University of New Mexico, NM, USA.

“Why Should We Educate For Inquisitiveness: Revisited.” Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing, University of Oklahoma, OK, USA.


“Asking Virtuous Questions: Perspectives from Indian Philosophy.” Indian Philosophy Workshop, University of Durham, UK.

“Knowledge is a Questioning-Relative State: A virtue-based contrastive account.” Virtue Epistemology Conference, KU Leuven, Belgium.


“The Value of Questioning in Applied Epistemology.” Language and Epistemology Workshop, Yonsei University, South Korea.

“Why Should Philosophers Study Questioning.” Society for Applied Philosophy Annual Conference, University of Oxford, UK.