Suilin Lavelle

Senior Lecturer

  • Philosophy
  • School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

Contact details



Room 7.11

40 George Square, Edinburgh
Post code


  • My working days are Monday - Wednesday (9am - 5pm) and Fridays (9am - 5pm).

    My office hours are by appointment. Please do not feel you need a 'problem' to come to office hours, I am always happy to chat about philosophy or your studies more generally.


Suilin joined the department in Spring 2011, having completed a PhD at the University of Sheffield. Her primary interest is the field of social cognition, and more specifically, in the various answers given to the question 'How do we understand other people's psychological states?' She defends a 'theory-theory' answer to this question, maintaining that the cognitive processes which facilitate our grasp of our own mental states and those of others are best understood as being theory-like. Her research is strongly inter-disciplinary, drawing on research in psychology, neuroscience, animal behaviour and anthropology.

Suilin is also interested in the nature of the cognitive mechanisms underlying joint attention, and believes that developing a clearer understanding of these mechanisms will enable us to have a more comprehensive grasp of social phenomena such as pedagogy and altruism.

Representative publications

  • Cross cultural considerations in social cognition. In J. Kiverstein (Ed.) The Routledge Handbook of the Social Mind. 2016
  • Is a modular cognitive architecture compatible with the direct perception of mental states?. Consciousness and cognition, 36, 2015.
  • Contrastive Explanation and the Many Absences Problem (first author; co-authored with George Botterill and Suzanne Lock). Synthese, online first™ 2012. DOI 10.1007/s11229-012-0205-9
  • Two challenges to Hutto's account of pre-linguistic social cognition. Philosophia, online first™ 2011. DOI 10.1007/s11406-011-9356-z
  • Theory-theory and the direct perception of mental states. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, online first™ 2012. DOI 10.1007/s13164-012-0094-3

Activities and awards


Chatting with Mark Dance on 'The Headspace' radio show about mirror neurons.

Responsibilities & affiliations

  • Programme Director, Epistemology, Ethics and Mind MSc
  • School online learning development leader

Undergraduate teaching

Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science  (MSc)

  • Advanced Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science (MSc)
  • Introduction to Philosophical Methodology (MSc)
  • Philosophy of Science (MSc)
  • Philosophy of Science 1 (Pre-hons)

Postgraduate teaching

Social Cognition (MA)


  • Philosophical Issues in Evolution (MA)
  • Philosophy of Psychology (MA)
  • Metaphysics of Mind (MA)

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised

Past PhD students supervised

Olle Blomberg

Ashleigh Watson

Joseph Dewhurst

Research summary

Philosophy of psychology, philosophy of mind, cognitive science, moral psychology, philosophy of science,

Current research interests

Work in progress 'Theory and the second person perspective' 'Normativity and theory in mindreading'