I am a philosopher of mind and cognitive science, and a Research Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford. Much of my research is on agency, evaluative cognition and desire, especially as they relate to reinforcement learning. I am interested in what makes humans and other animals autonomous, rational agents (to the extent that we are), with desires and interests, and in what it would take to create artificial agents with these features.

A second strand of my research is on representation, addressing questions like: how and why does the mind represent the world, how is representation related to intelligence, and what is representation, anyway?

I spent the first half of 2021 conducting research on AI alignment, thanks to a grant from Survival and Flourishing. From 2017 to 2020 I was a Teaching Fellow at King's College London, where I taught philosophy of mind and philosophy of psychology to students in the Philosophy, Neuroscience and Psychology departments. Before that, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Centre for Philosophical Psychology at the University of Antwerp from 2016 to 2017, and a Stipendiary Lecturer in Philosophy at Hertford College, Oxford from 2014 to 2017. At Hertford I taught ethics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of cognitive science, and logic.

In 2015 I completed my Ph.D. in Philosophy at King's College, London, where I was supervised by David Papineau and Nick Shea.

My email address is patrick.butlin {at}