School of Religion, Philosophy & Classics

David Spurrett

David Spurrett


Discipline Philosophy


Contact Number 031-260-2309

Campus Howard College Campus

Office Address MTB 316

Brief Biography

David Spurrett studied philosophy at the former University of Natal, and at King’s College London, and has lectured philosophy since 1991. He graduated with his PhD in metaphysics in 2000, and since then has co-edited and co-written several books, and many papers, mostly on topics in the philosophy of science, cognitive science and metaphysics. His research has involved collaborations with linguists, psychologists, economists, psychiatrists, legal scholars, anaesthetists and even other philosophers. His current research is largely focused on questions about agency, including human agency, at the intersection of philosophy of biology and philosophy of cognitive science. His recent publications (listed below) give a sense of his current interests.

Among the awards and honours he has received are the Vice Chancellor’s Research Award (University of Natal, 2003), the Distinguished Teacher’s Award (University of Natal, 2003), the Colenso Scholarship at St John’s College, Cambridge (2003), a President’s Award from the National Research Foundation (2002), and an NRF ‘B’ rating (2010 and 2016).

He’s had many years of experience in University administration, including membership of the Council and Senate of UKZN, and formerly serving as a Head of School. His term as Dean of SRPC commenced in mid 2017.

Degrees Held

  • BA, BA(Hons), MA in Philosophy, PhD in Philosophy (Natal)


  • 2006- Philosophy, University of KwaZulu-Natal: Professor.
  • 2004-2005 Philosophy, University of KwaZulu-Natal: Associate Professor.
  • (The University of KwaZulu-Natal was created through a merger between the University of Natal, and the University of Durban Westville, effective from January 2004.)
  • 2002–2003 Philosophy Programme, University of Natal, Durban: Senior Lecturer.
  • 1999–2001 Philosophy Programme, University of Natal, Durban: Lecturer.
  • 1992–1998 Department of Philosophy, University of Natal, Durban: Part-time lecturer, leave substitute lecturer and tutor, including three years on contract as a Junior Lecturer.
  • 1993 Department of Philosophy, University of Durban-Westville: Guest lecturer for one module at honours level (part time).
  • 1991–1992 Department of Philosophy, University of Durban-Westville: Leave substitute lecturer (part time).
  • 1990 Department of Classics, University of Natal, Durban: Assistant Curator, Museum of Classical Archaeology (part time).


  • 2010 and 2016 National Research Foundation ‘B’ Rating
  • 2003 Distinguished Teacher’s Award, University of Natal (two awarded annually); Vice-Chancellor’s Research Award, University of Natal (one awarded annually); Colenso scholar, spending one term (Easter 2003) at St John’s College, Cambridge.
  • 2002 National Research Foundation President’s Award (three awards nationally for 2002).
  • 1998/9 Three year Visiting Research Fellowship in Philosophy at King’s College, London; Association of Commonwealth Universities split-site Doctoral Scholarship; Centre for Science Development (South Africa) Overseas Doctoral Scholarship.
  • 1994 University of Natal Doctoral Research Scholarship (two awarded annually).
  • 1989 Notcutt Prize for Philosophy.

Research Interests

  • Areas of Specialisation: Philosophy of Science, Cognitive Science, Metaphysics.
  • Areas of Competence: Philosophy of Mind, Epistemology, Behavioural Economics, Early Modern Philosophy (especially Descartes), Postmodernism and Science, History and Philosophy of Early Modern Science, Critical Reasoning, Health Policy.

Teaching Areas

  • History of Modern Philosophy, Epistemology, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Cognitive Science, Philosophy of Biology.

Students Supervision

  • David Spurrett has previously supervised honours, masters and doctoral students in various areas of cognitive science, metaphysics, epistemology and history of philosophy. He’s open to enquiries from prospective students, especially those interested in working on agency, including situated and compromised agency.

Selected Publications