Dr Paula Sweeney

Dr Paula Sweeney
Dr Paula Sweeney
Dr Paula Sweeney

Senior Lecturer

Accepting PhDs

Email Address
Telephone Number
+44 (0)1224 272357
Office Address
50/52 College Bounds
Old Aberdeen Campus
College Bounds
AB24 3DS

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School of Divinity, History, Philosophy & Art History


Paula Sweeney is a senior lecturer in Philosophy. She joined the University of Aberdeen in 2009. Prior to that she completed her PhD at the University of St Andrews under the supervision of Crispin Wright. 

In 2015 Paula became the Head of Philosophy and the Deputy Head of School. From 2016 until 2022 Paula was the Head of the School of Divinity, History, Philosophy and Art History. 

Paula's academic background is in the Philosophy of Language and the Philosophy of Logic.  Now she works in the Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence, particularly regarding social robots. She is interested in what social robots are, what benefits they can bring to society and how we should engage with them. Although she approaches these questions from a philosophical perspective, she draws on research from a wide range of disciplines. 

Paula teaches at undergraduate and masters level in Philosophy and at masters level in the School of Computer Science. 

Paula's monograph Social Robots: A Fictional Dualism Model is to be published by Rowman & Littlefield in late 2023. An episode of the podcast Philosophical Disquisitions was dedicated to a discussion of her fictional dualism theory of social robots. She has also published many articles in peer reviewed journals and edited collections. Please see the Publications tab for more details. 


  • PhD Philosophy 
    2010 - University of St Andrews 

    Supervisor: Crispin Wright

  • MLitt Philosophy 
    2006 - University of St Andrews 
  • MA Philosophy 
    2005 - University of St Andrews 

External Memberships

In recent years Paula has been a member of the AHRC Peer Review College, an elected board member of the British Philosophical Association and an appointed trustee of the trust associated with Thought: A Journal of Philosophy. 

She is an external examiner at Lancaster University and the University of St Andrews.

Latest Publications

View My Publications

Prizes and Awards

Paula was co-investigator on the Leverhulme Trust funded project, Relativism and Rational Tolerance, with Professor Crispin Wright. 


Research Overview

I am an analytic philosopher who is interested in the Philosophy of AI, particularly the philosophy of social robots. Some of the questions that interest me are ethical but often I am interested in the traditional questions of philosophy, reconsidered in light of these new entities in our world, social robots. 

Research Areas

Accepting PhDs

I am currently accepting PhDs in Philosophy.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.

Email Me


Accepting PhDs

Research Specialisms

  • Philosophy
  • Artificial Intelligence

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Current Research

Most recently I have been working on a monograph for Rowman & Littlefield, to be published by the end of 2023. The monograph is a book-length study of my theory of social robots, a theory that I call 'fictional dualism'. The theory proposes that, when we engage with social robots, the emotional response that we have is closer in kind to the response that we have towards fiction than it is to how we respond to persons. Aspects of the theory are also discussed in some of my recently published articles.  

Please see the Publications tab for more of my research. 


My current supervision areas are: Philosophy.

I can offer supervision in the Philosophy and Ethics of Artificial Intelligence. 


Funding and Grants

I was a co-investigator on the Leverhulme funded Relativism and Rational Tolerance (£250K). 


Teaching Responsibilities


Ethical and Legal aspects of Artificial Intelligence.

Feminist Philosophy



PH3006 Contemporary Topics in Philosophy



PH1027 Controversial Questions



Semester One

PH1027 Controversial Questions

SX1018 Logic, Language and Information

Semester Two

PH353Z/PH454Z Philosophy of time


Semester One

PH1027 Controversial Questions

PH3094/PH4094 Wittgenstein

Semester Two

PH2529 Life Death and Meaning


Semester One

PH1027 Controversial Questions 

Semester Two

PH352F  Independent Study

PH1523  Experience, Knowledge and Reality


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Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals

Non-textual Forms