Joshua Shepherd

Joshua Shepherd

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona


In May of 2023 I began as ICREA Research Professor at Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona.
Leading up to this, I did a PhD in Philosophy at Florida State University, working with Al Mele on consciousness and action. I then took a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Oxford’s Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. While at Oxford, I was subsequently a Junior Research Fellow at Jesus College, and a Wellcome Trust Fellow. And I published my first book, Consciousness and Moral Status. I left Oxford to become Assistant Professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, and in 2020 I became Associate Professor at Carleton. Simultaneously, I began a stint at the University of Barcelona, where from 2018-2023 I was the PI on an ERC funded project, Rethinking Conscious Agency. During this time my second book, The Shape of Agency: Control, Action, Skill, Knowledge, was published.

Research interests

My research interests target a number of issues at the intersection of philosophy of mind and action, psychology, neuroscience, and practical ethics.
Lately, I have become increasingly interested in the mechanisms and capacities that enable control over aspects of the mind – capacities for cognitive control and metacognition, for example. I am also interested in how we manage to produce behavior that sits on the edge of control, like creativity and improvisational behavior.
I also maintain an interest in the moral significance of consciousness. My first book Consciousness and Moral Status develops an account of the moral value of phenomenal consciousness. In subsequent work, some of it in collaboration with bioethicists, I am exploring difficult moral issues surrounding the moral status of non-humans, and the ethics of research using cerebral organoids.