Professor Copenhaver's main area of research is the philosophy of mind, particularly perception and memory, with special attention to modern British theories of mind, including those of Thomas Reid, George Berkeley, and John Locke.
She is a co-author (with Brian P. Copenhaver) of From Kant to Croce: Modern Philosophy in Italy 1800–1950 (Toronto University Press, 2012), and of a number of articles on modern British theories of mind. She is co-editor of a 6-volume History of the Philosophy of Mind, published by Routledge, with Christopher Shields.
Her current research includes a book on Thomas Reid’s science of mind, as well as a number of projects aimed at showing that the development of our perceptual abilities is best explained in terms of perceptual learning, rather than, for example, cognitive permeation (also called cognitive penetration). Philosophers have typically understood the kinds of changes she has described either as results of a cognitive process — such as inference or belief — or as a kind of cognitive permeation, where inferences or beliefs alter the contents of perception. By contrast, she adopts a model of perceptual development and perceptual learning to explain these changes and to explain the richness and variability of adult perceptual experience.