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University of Gothenburg
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Forskningsområden inom teoretisk filosofi
Photo: Jessica Oscarsson

Research in Theoretical Philosophy

Theoretical philosophy is normally thought to comprise studies in at least the following areas of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language. The kind of research we do here in Gothenburg covers more or less all of those areas, both from a contemporary and a historical point of view, and also includes cross-disciplinary research

The division of philosophy into a practical and a theoretical discipline can arguably be traced back as far as to Aristotle. At most philosophy departments in Sweden (as well as in the other Nordic countries) this division has become institutionalized. Courses in theoretical and practical philosophy are taught separately and are given separate degrees. PhD-positions, professorships, lectureships and various research positions are likewise for the most part separately announced, which means that to be eligible to apply for a position in theoretical position, you are normally expected to have (the equivalent of) a PhD in theoretical philosophy or, if the position is as a doctoral student, it means that you are expected to write your PhD-thesis on a subject-matter that qualifies as in theoretical philosophy.

Theoretical philosophy is usually defined in terms of the topics it covers. The topics normally included under this heading are metaphysics/ontology, philosophy of language, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and logic. In Gothenburg, logic is however a separate research subject with its own professor.

Short History of the Subject

The history of theoretical philosophy at the University of Gothenburg dates back to 1893, when the first professor of philosophy, Vitalis Norström (1856–1916), was appointed. Like his two immediate successors, Malte Jacobsson (1885–1966) and Gunnar Aspelin (1898–1977), Norström moved freely between theoretical and practical philosophy in his research, but taught mainly in theoretical philosophy.

The first professor of theoretical philosophy was the internationally renowned Neo-Kantian Ernst Cassirer (1874–1945), who served at Gothenburg between 1935–1941, having left Germany after the Nazis came to power in 1933. It is however fair to say that the subject’s modern history starts with the 1951 appointment of Ivar Segelberg (1914–1987). Segelberg’s main philosophical interests were analytic ontology, and phenomenology in the tradition of the early Husserl. Segelberg served as professor for almost three decades and came to have a formative influence upon his students, three of whom, Mats Furberg (1933–), Dag Westerståhl (1946–) and Helge Malmgren (1945–), also became professors in theoretical philosophy in Gothenburg. Whereas most of his students attest to Segelberg’s importance for their intellectual development, few came to study the same problems he did. Furberg is a philosopher of language, Westerståhl is a philosopher of logic and Malmgren is a philosopher of mind. Furberg and Malmgren are now retired. Westerståhl is currently working as a professor emeritus at Stockholm University.

The current professor is Anna-Sofia Maurin (1969–). With her appointment, ontology has once again become a main topic of research in Gothenburg.

Seminars

The research seminar in theoretical philosophy convenes once a week (normally on Wednesdays 10-12). The seminar features presentations both by local researchers/PhD students, and by invited guests. To get updated information about the seminar, including titles, abstracts and (when applicable) papers, please contact  Pia Gårdmo at pia.gardmo@ling.gu.se and ask to be put on the mailing list hogreseminarium@filosofi.gu.se.

People

Below you find a list of those employed in theoretical philosophy. At the bottom of the page, you find a list of people tied to but not presently employed in the subject.

Anna-Sofia Maurin: Anna-Sofia is the subject's professor. She works primarily in meta- and metametaphysics, in the philosophy of properties (especially tropes), on questions to do with fundamentality, infinite regress, and understanding the distinction between vicious and benign regress, as well as on questions to do with ontological justification, truthmaking, grounding and, in particular, metaphysical explanation. 2017-2019 she was the PI of a project on metaphysical explanation. Recently she has begun work in social ontology, with a special focus on (social metaphysical) explanation.

For more information go to Anna-Sofia's external website. For more information about her project on metaphysical explanation, go to the external project website.

Ana María Mora Márquez: Ana María is docent in theoretical philosophy and a Wallenberg Academy Fellow. She works primarily on issues in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and epistemology in an ancient and medieval context. Ana Maria is presently the PI of a project on the non-formal aspects of Aristotelian logic, central to Aristotle's argumentation in the Topics and its medieval reception.

For more information see Ana María's personal page, and the page about her Topica project.

Susanna Radovic: Susanna is docent in theoretical philosophy. Her research is focused on issues in the philosophy of mind, but intersects with the discussion of responsibility, mainly in a legal context. She is involved in various inter-disciplinary collaborations, working together with researchers from psychiatry, psychology, and law.

For more information see Susanna's personal page. For more information about her most recent project go to the pages about CELAM.

Felix Larsson: Felix is senior lecturer in theoretical philosophy. His area of expertise is philosophy of language/mind (especially intentionality and speech act theory). Recently he has also been working on issues in moral philosophy, especially utilitarianism.

For more information see Felix' personal page.

Filip Radovic: Filip is senior lecturer in theoretical philosophy. He works primarily on issues in the philosophy of mind, to do with delusions and dreaming. Most recently, he has worked on these issues as they relate to the Aristotelian tradition. This latter work was conducted as part ofthe Representation and Reality project, led by Christina Thomsen Thörnqvist.

For more information see Filip's personal page,  and the link to the project Representation and Reality.

Gustavo Fernandez Walker: Gustavo is posdoctoral research fellow in Ana Maria Mora Marquez Topica project. He specializes in ancient and medieval philosophy. His present research focuses on how later medieval scholars understood notions such as'doubt' and 'problem'.

For more information see Gustavo's personal page,  and the link to the Topica project he works in.

Ylwa Sjölin Wirling: Ylwa is a postdoctoral research fellow and PI of the project Pure Epistemic Pluralism. Her research primarily conerns various aspects of modality, especially the epistemology of modality. She also works on issues in meta-philosophy, on metaphysical explanation, meta-ontology, social epistemology, the philosophy of imagination, and on methodological questions concerning justification and theory-choice in philosophy.

For more information go to Ylwa's external website, and the page about her Pure Epistemic Pluralism project.

Maximilian Zachrau: Max is a doctoral student in theoretical philosophy, supervised by professor Anna-Sofia Maurin. His writes a thesis in process ontology.

For more information see Maximilian's personal page.

Alla Choifer: Alla is a doctoral student in theoretical philosophy, supervised by prof emeritus Helge Malmgren. She writes her thesis in the philosophy of mind.

 

Also tied to our subject are the following people (in alphabetic order):

Andrew Brenner: Andrew is an assistant professor at Hong Kong Baptist University. 2017-2019 he worked in Anna-Sofia Maurin's project on metaphysical explanation.

For more information, go to Andrew's external website.

Martin Kaså: Martin holds a PhD in theoretical philosophy (2017) but is presently employed as senior lecturer in logic. He remains very closely tied to the subject. His research focuses primarily on issues in the intersection between philosophy of lanuage and logic.

Link to his dissertation. For more information see Martin's personal page.

Helge Malmgren: Until 2012 Helge was the professor of theoretical philosophy at the University of Gothenburg. He is now retired.

For more information, go to Helge's external website.

Stellan Petersson: Stellan is presently employed as lecturer in Swedish. He received his PhD in theoretical philosophy at the University of Gothenburg on a thesis in the philosophy of language titled Disarming Context Dependence.

Link to his dissertation. For more information see Stellan's personal page..

Alexander Skiles: Alex is presently employed as lecturer at Rutgers university. 2017-2019 he worked in Anna-Sofia Maurin's project on metaphysical explanation, and they are currently collaborating on a new project in social ontology.

For more information, go to Alexander's external website.

Robin Stenwall: Robin is a senior lecturer at Lund University. 2017-2019 he worked in Anna-Sofia Maurin's project on metaphysical explanation.

For more information, go to Robin's external website.

Alva Stråge: Alva finished her PhD, supervised by Susanna Radovic, 2019 with the dissertation: Minds, Brains and Desert: On the relevance of neuroscience for retributive punishment.

Link to her dissertation.

Naomi Thompson: Naomi works as senior lecturer at the University of Southampton. 2017-2019 she worked in Anna-Sofia Maurin's project on metaphysical explanation, and they are currently collaborating on a new project in social ontology.

For more information, go to Naomi's external website.

Anders Tolland: Anders is a recently retired senior lecturer in theoretical philosophy. His main area of research is epistemology and philosophy of language (especially relativism and speech act theory).

Dag Westerståhl: 1998-2010 Dag was the August Rhööst professor of theoretical philosophy at the University of Gothenburg. He is presently senior professor of theoretical philosophy at Stockholm University.

For more information, go to Dag's webpage at Stockholm University.

Contact

We are located at the Department of Philosophy, Linguistics, and Theory of Science, Renströmsgatan 6
Box 200
405 30 GÖTEBORG

If you need to contact any of our researchers, please find the links to their respective webpages in the staff list Philosophy and Philology unit. There you will find the relevant contact information. For general questions about theoretical philosophy you may contact the subject’s professor at anna-sofia.maurin@gu.se.

Our Researchers and PhD-students

The staff group in theoretical philosophy also engage in many smaller projects and other activities, described more closely at their respective personal web page. Link to staff list and publications: Philosophy and Philology unit