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.
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.
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 has been 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. The main aim will be to write the first monograph in English on Løgstrup's key work The Ethical Demand (1956), as well as the translation of one of his books from German, on Kierkegaard and Heidegger, in a critical edition. Further information on this project can be found here.
Professional Activities and Distinctions
- Chair of Philosophy sub-panel for REF2021
- 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
- The ethics of K. E. Løgstrup
- The connection between idealism and pragmatism
- 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
Current Postgraduate Students
- Ahmad Fattah, MacIntyre's ethics
- Anthony Eagan, Kierkegaard and the 'interesting'
- James Lewis, Moral and linguistic normativity
- David Strohmaier, Social agents
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