Robert Stern


MA, PhD Cambridge


Robert Stern came to Sheffield in 1989, having been a graduate and Research Fellow at St John's College, Cambridge. He has been a Professor since 2000, and was Head of Department from 2004 to 2008. He was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in 2019.

Research Interests

His main interests in the history of philosophy are in nineteenth century post-Kantian German philosophy, especially Hegel. His interests in contemporary philosophy are in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics and political philosophy. He is currently working on the Danish philosopher and theologian K. E. Løgstrup, and also on the work of Martin Luther viewed from a philosophical perspective.

His first book was Hegel, Kant and the Structure of the Object (1990), and he has compiled and written introductions for a four-volume collection of articles offering a critical assessment of Hegel's philosophy. He has also written a commentary on Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit (2002), and a collection of his papers under the title Hegelian Metaphysics was published in 2009.

On contemporary philosophy, he has has published a book on the metaphysical and epistemological issues raised by transcendental arguments as used from Kant onwards (Transcendental Arguments and Scepticism, 2000). He has also edited a collection on this topic. He has published papers dealing with the work of McDowell, Rawls, Parfit, and MacIntyre, and retains an interest in questions relating to political philosophy, ethics and the philosophy of history.

Bob was awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for 2008-10. His research was on 'Autonomy, Self-Legislation and Moral Realism', and has led to a recent book with Cambridge University Press, entitled Understanding Moral Obligation: Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard. The book considers whether there is a coherent argument from autonomy to some form of antirealism or constructivism in ethics: if we are autonomous agents, does it follow that moral realism should be rejected? Bob aims to establish that this argument from autonomy to anti-realism is mistaken, and shows (particularly by reference to Kant, Hegel and Kierkegaard) that its uncritical adoption has also distorted our understanding of the history of ethics. A collection of papers relating to this theme has recently been published by Oxford University Press, under the title Kantian Ethics: Value, Agency, and Obligation.

Most recently, Bob was awarded an AHRC Fellowship for 2015-17, for a project on 'The Ethical Demand: Løgstrup's Ethics and Its Implications', to work on the ethics of the Danish philosopher and theologian K. E. Løgstrup. He has just published a monograph on this topic, entitled The Radical Demand in Løgstrup's Ethics. Further information on this project can be found here.

Professional Activities and Distinctions

  • Chair of Philosophy sub-panel for REF2021
  • Fellow of the British Academy
  • Former President of the British Philosophical Association.
  • Formerly the editor of the journal European Journal of Philosophy and of Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain, and President of the HSGB.
  • 'Hegel's Doppelsatz: A Neutral Reading' was awarded the Journal of the History of Philosophy Board of Directors annual prize for the best article of 2006.
  • Awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for 2008-10, and a Leverhulme Network Grant for 2012-15, for a project on 'Idealism and Pragmatism: Convergence or Contestation?'
  • Awarded an AHRC Fellowship for 2015-17

Current Projects

  • The ethics of K. E. Løgstrup
  • Martin Luther
  • The connection between idealism and pragmatism

Selected Publications

  • The Radical Demand in Løgstrup's Ethics, Oxford University Press, 2019
  • Kantian Ethics: Value, Agency, and Obligation, Oxford University Press, 2015
  • Understanding Moral Obligation: Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Cambridge University Press, 2012
  • Hegelian Metaphysics, Oxford University Press, 2009
  • 'Hegel, British Idealism, and the Curious Case of the Concrete Universal', British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 15 (2007), pp. 115-53
  • 'Hegel's Doppelsatz: A Neutral Reading', Journal of the History of Philosophy, XLIV (2006), pp. 235-66
  • 'Peirce on Hegel: Nominalist or Realist?', Transactions of the C S Peirce Society, XLI (2004), pp. 65-99
  • Hegel and the 'Phenomenology of Spirit', Routledge, 2002; 2nd edn 2013
  • Transcendental Arguments and Scepticism, Oxford University Press, 2000
  • Hegel, Kant and the Structure of the Object, Routledge, 1990

See full list of publications

Current Postgraduate Students

Primary supervision

  • Roderick Howlett: Kierkegaard and Adorno
  • Michael Regier: Kierkegaard, Ricoeur, and social ethics
  • Barney Riggs: Kierkegaard's critique of modern society
  • Leonard Weiss: Hegel and Schelling

Secondary supervision

  • Tom Fawcett: Nietzsche and the Greeks
  • Victor Wolemonwu: Biomedical ethics and Kant


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