Understanding Digital Well-Being

on my research

Improving Digital Well-Being

Strategies for societies and individuals

on my research


How are they changing our world?

on my research

Ethics of Self-Cultivation

Practices and technologies of character change

on my research


Using x-phi to understand digital fame & influence

on my research
Experimental philosophy (empirical philosophy, x-phi) aims to deepen our understanding of a philosophical topic by selectively engaging with empirical research from psychology and the social sciences.

I am currently writing a book about the influence of online celebrities, and am co-organising a workshop on this topic in December 2020

Details of this project and my related work in x-phi are below.

Books and Edited Volumes

Becoming Who We Are Online: Digital Portraits of Self-Cultivation
M. J. Dennis (author). Manuscript to be submitted 2021.

This book offers a contribution in experimental philosophy (x-phi) to the existing literature on self-cultivation with an empirical account of the processes and practices of self-directed character development on the Internet. Each of the ten chapters of this volume offers a first-personal account of the online cultivation of the character, one which is based on interviews with a representative sample of individuals who have engaged in a protracted process of self-cultivation. The book begins with a critical introduction of x-phi that argues for the use of qualitative data in contemporary philosophical debates, as well as suggesting why it can help in the philosophical investigation of the cultivation of character online specifically. It closes with an Epilogue reflecting on the findings.

Book proposal available on request.

Peer-Reviewed Articles

PUBLIC CONFERENCE: "Virtue and Experimental Philosophy: Understanding Character Excellences Empirically"
Jubilee Centre Conference, Oriel College, University of Oxford. January 3rd–5th, 2019.

While experimental philosophers have been good at enlisting previous empirical studies into philosophical debates, they have also speculated on the value of positive programmes that would direct, for example, psychological, social, or cultural research towards a philosophical question. My paper surveys the extent to which x-phi offers the resources to bring greater philosophical clarity to the question of the cultural relativity of virtue. I start by summarising the historical use of empirical data in practical philosophy from the anthropological texts comprising Aristotle's Parva Naturalia to the work of contemporary thinkers such as Doris and Macintyre. I claim that virtue theorists have traditionally been receptive to work in the empirical sciences throughout the history of their discipline, but that they would benefit from bringing the question of the relationship between philosophical and empirical research into much sharper resolution. After this I sketch what a positive programme of x-phi in virtue ethics could look like, focusing its potential to help answer the question of the universality of virtues specifically.

Draft article available here.
Public Engagements  ▶︎