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Theoretical Philosophy

What is Theoretical Philosophy?

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.

A Very 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.


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. A schedule for the seminar can be found here. To get updated information about the seminar, including titles, abstracts and (when applicable) papers, please contact Anna-Sofia Maurin.


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, and also includes cross-disciplinary research.

Some of our researchers lead externally funded research projects. Among other things, professor Anna-Sofia Maurin, is the principal investigator for the project Metaphysical Explanation, financed by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (more info here), docent Ana Maria Mora Marquez leads a project on Aristotelian argumentation, financed by Knut and AliceWallenbergs fond, and docent Susanna Radovic works in a project on expertise, evidence and ethics in decisons on compulsory care (more info here). The project is interdisciplinary and part of the research environment CELAM, for which Radovic is also the director.

For more information about the sort of research we do, please go to the websites of our individual researchers (listed below).

Our Researchers and PhD-students

Anna-Sofia Maurin, professor

Susanna Radovic, docent

Ana María Mora Marquez, docent

Anders Tolland, senior lecturer

Felix Larsson senior lecturer

Martin Kaså, senior lecturer

Filip Radovic, senior lecturer

Gustavo Fernandez Walker, postdoc

Alla Choifer, PhD student

Ylwa Sjölin Wirling, postdoc

Maximilian Zachrau, PhD student


Susanna Salmijärvi, PhD student (on a break)


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

If you need to contact any of our researchers, please follow the links to their respective webpages. There you will find the relevant contact information. For general questions about theoretical philosophy you may contact the subject’s professor Anna-Sofia Maurin (anna-sofia.maurin@gu.se).

Artwork by Jean-Louis Maurin

Jean-Louis Maurin
Jean-Louis Maurin

Contact Information

Anna-Sofia Maurin

Box 200, 405 30 Göteborg

Visiting Address:
Renströmsgatan 6, plan 5

031-786 6969

Page Manager: Monica Havström|Last update: 5/22/2020

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