Ursula Coope is Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the Faculty of Philosophy and a Professorial Fellow of Keble College.
She studied at Oxford, UC Berkeley and Princeton. She was a Jacobsen Fellow at UCL and then a lecturer at Birkbeck before moving to Oxford in 2006 to take up a Tutorial Fellowship at Corpus Christi. She has held visiting positions at Princeton and NYU and has had periods of research funded by the AHRC, by a Philip Leverhulme Prize and by a mid-career fellowship from the British Academy. She joined Keble in 2017.
Her research focuses on two related areas: Aristotle (especially philosophy of nature and action), and Neoplatonist philosophy (especially questions about freedom and responsibility).
Her first book, Time for Aristotle: Physics IV 10-14, examined Aristotle’s account of time, an account that raises questions about temporal order, the role of the present, and the relation between time and the mind. She has also worked on Aristotle’s views on change, agency and the infinite. Her interest in Aristotle’s philosophy of action is partly in metaphysical questions (in particular, how the views he adopts in the Physics affect his account of action), but also in questions of psychology. (What is the relation between desiring something and thinking it good? What is distinctive about human, as opposed to animal, action? What is the nature of technical expertise and how does it differ from theoretical knowledge?)
Her forthcoming book, Freedom and Responsibility in Neoplatonist Thought, discusses Neoplatonist accounts of freedom and responsibility. The Neoplatonists think that to become free is to become perfect. This book asks about the notion of freedom that underlies this claim. (Why do the Neoplatonists think that only something nonbodily can be free? How is freedom related to self-causation?) The book also takes up questions about responsibility. (If those who act badly fail to achieve freedom, then how it be right to blame them for acting badly? What justifies the claim that human beings are responsible for what they do in a way that animals are not?)