Skip to main content
Anneli Jefferson

Dr Anneli Jefferson


School of English, Communication and Philosophy

+44 29208 75622
John Percival Building, Room Room 2.64, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU
Available for postgraduate supervision


My main research areas are philosophy of psychology and moral philosophy, especially the intersection of these areas. I also work in the philosophy of psychiatry.

In moral philosophy, I am currently working on theories of moral responsibility; I defend the importance of the consequences of our practices of holding each other responsible for justifying blame and praise. I also look at ways in which moral agency may be affected in psychiatric illness.

In the philosophy of psychiatry I am investigating the relationship between mental disorders and brain disorders. Are all mental disorders brain disorders, and if so, what does that mean? Is the question of whether mental disorders are brain disorders one to be decided by the philosophy of mind or by practical considerations such as for example 'what kind of treatments work best for this kind of illness'?

For further research, please see my list of publications.














Book sections



Articles and Book Chapters 
Jefferson, A. 2021: On Mental Illness and Broken Brains. Think 20:58, 103-112
Jefferson, A. 2020: What does it take to be brain disorder? Synthese 197, 249–262
Jefferson, A. 2020: Confabulation, Rationalisation and Morality. Topoi 39, 219-227
Jefferson, A. 2019: Instrumentalism about Moral Responsibility Revisited. The Philosophical Quarterly 69:276, 555-573
Jefferson, A. and Sifferd, K. 2018: Are psychopaths legally insane? European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 14:1, 79-96
Jefferson, A. 2017: Born to be Biased? Unrealistic Optimism and Error Management Theory. Philosophical Psychology 30:8, 1159-1175
Godman, M. and Jefferson, A. 2017: On Blaming and Punishing Psychopaths. Journal of Criminal Law and Philosophy 11:1, 127-142
Jefferson, A., Bortolotti, L. and Kuzmanovic, B. 2017: What is unrealistic Optimism? Consciousness and Cognition 50, 3-11

Heinrichs, J.H. and Jefferson, A. 2016: Moralischer Zufall (Moral Luck) In: M. Kühler, M. Rüther (eds.) Handbuch
Handlungstheorie (Handbook Theory of Action). Stuttgart: Metzler, 228-235

Kuzmanovic, B., Jefferson, A. and Vogeley, K. 2016: The Role of the neural reward circuitry in self-referential optimistic belief updates. Neuroimage 133, 151-162
Kuzmanovic, B., Jefferson, A., and Vogeley, K. 2015: Self-Specific Optimism Bias is Associated with high Trait Optimism. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 28:3, 281-293

Jefferson, A. 2014: Slippery Slope Arguments. Philosophy Compass. 9:10, 672-680 doi: 10.1111/phc3.12161

Jefferson, A. 2014: Mental Disorders, Brain Disorders and Values. Frontiers in Psychology 5, 1-3doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00130.

Kuzmanovic, B., Jefferson, A., Vogeley, K. and Bente, G 2013: Affective and Motivational Influences in Person Perception. Frontiers of Human Neuroscience 7: 266 doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00266


Before starting at Cardiff University in September 2019, I worked at the University of Birmingham, first on the ,Costs and Benefits of Optimism' project with Lisa Bortolotti, then as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. My project during the Early Career Fellowship was entitled 'Mental Disorders, Brain Disorders and Moral Responsibility'.

After completing my PhD, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the institute of Neuroscience and Medicine at the Research Centre Jülich, Germany.

I received my MPhil and PhD from King's College London.

I gained my Magister Artium from the Heinrich Heine Universitaet Duesseldorf and completed training as secondary school teacher for Philosophy and English in Duesseldorf, Germany.