Examining how philosophical ideas shape, and are shaped by, wider cultures

The Philosophy and the History of Ideas (PHI) group is Melbourne’s largest centre dedicated to pluralist philosophy. We bring together researchers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and philosophical traditions. Together, we deliver projects that develop new connections in the field and restore the transformative power of philosophy.

Our research areas

PHI facilitates dialogue between researchers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds to develop new connections between the history of philosophical thought, abstract thinking about concepts, theoretical reasoning about the world and its contents, and practical reasoning about individual and collective activity. The Philosophy and the History of Ideas group has four research streams:


Exploring the capacity for natural, political and artificial entities to act, make choices and exercise control.

Identity, subjectivity and embodiment

Analysing subjective experiences, conscious awareness and human consciousness structure to understand what it means to remain identical to self.

Meaning-making in the public sphere

Encouraging public and inclusive discourse, dialogue and deliberation to understand individual interpretations of phenomena.

Value, theory and ways of life

Investigating how values, theory and lived experiences shape individual identities and contribute to the fabric of society.

Understand the transformative power of philosophy

When you study a PhD or postdoctoral research with the Philosophy and the History of Ideas group, you'll be supported by renowned researchers.

Explore our research degrees

Featured projects

PHI is fundamentally outward facing, interacting with Australian society and culture through various forms of public engagement. Our researchers critique and engage with contemporary thought and are regular contributors to the Australian media landscape.

No place like home? A phenomenology of racialised non-belonging

No place like home? A phenomenology of racialised non-belonging

Racism is an urgent problem in Australian society, yet its existential effects remain poorly understood. This project, led by Dr Helen Ngo, seeks to develop a new understanding of racism’s deep impact on one’s sense of self and place, reframing racism as not only a political problem, but also an ontological one. In doing so, it aims to guide more robust anti-racist efforts in the pursuit of a more racially just society.

Constituent power in federal constitutions

Constituent power in federal constitutions

This research aims to better understand the ways federal constitutions are adopted and approved by ‘the people’ of the country – both the multiple peoples of the constituent states and the singular people of the federation. This project, led by Associate Professor George Duke, aims to influence the way governments and the courts apply and interpret federal constitutions and contribute to discussion about the roles of the people(s) in constitutional amendment and reform.

Our researchers

Steered by our group convenors, our members span from early to mid and senior career researchers. They bring a range of disciplinary expertise based on decades of combined experience.

Associate Professor Stokes is the Associate Head of School (International and Engagement) in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. His work sits at the intersections of the Continental and Analytic traditions, with research interests in 19th and 20th century European Philosophy, personal identity, narrative selfhood, moral psychology, death and remembrance, and philosophy of religion.

Dr Christopher Mayes is a senior lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. His research interests include history and philosophy of healthcare, sociology of health and food, and bioethics.

Research team

Associate Professor Geoff Boucher, Associate Professor Writing, Literature and Culture

Dr Sean Bowden, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy

Dr Petra Brown, Lecturer in Philosophy

Dr Tamara Browne, Senior Lecturer, Health Ethics, Law And Professional Development

Dr Leesa Davis, Lecturer in Philosophy

Associate Professor George Duke, Associate Professor in Philosophy

Tim Deane-Freeman, Casual Academic, School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Dr Cathy Legg, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy

Dr Michele Lobo, Honorary Fellow

Dr Christopher Mayes, Senior Lecturer, Philosophy

Dr Helen Ngo, DECRA Research Fellow

Associate Professor Antonia Pont, Associate Professor of Writing, Literature and Culture

Professor Jack Reynolds, Professor of Philosophy

Dr Marilyn Stendera, Visitor

Associate Professor Patrick Stokes, Associate Professor in Philosophy

Professor Miguel Vatter, Professor in Political Science

External members

Russell Grigg

John Lippitt

Talia Morag

John Morss

Pierre-Jean Renaudie

Susana Viegas

Daniela Voss

James Williams

Ashley Woodward

Our publications

Take an in-depth look at our latest research, available in a variety of formats and publications. For a full list of publications visit the profile pages of our researchers.

Latest publications:

Featured publications:

Contact us

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