doc. Nora Hämäläinen, PhD.


Research interests
Questions of personhood, self-development, philosophy and literature, virtue ethics, the role of theory in ethics, questions of philosophical method in ethics, moral change, ethics and historicity

Education and degrees awarded

Docent in philosophy, University of Helsinki, 2016.
Ph.D.  March 2010, with the dissertation A Literary Turn – Rethinking the Roles of Generalization and Theory in Anglo-American Moral Philosophy, December 2009.
MA December 2003, University of Helsinki.
Matriculation May 1997, Brändö gymnasium, Helsinki.

Previous professional appointments and career breaks

Full time appointments:

  • Erik Allardt fellow, Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala September 2016 – June 2017.
  • Research fellow, Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies (HCAS) 2013-2016, with the project The Making of The Good Person – Moral Philosophy, Self-Help and Technologies of the Self.
  • Post-doctoral researcher 1.1.2013-8.3.2013, funded by Otto A Malm Foundation
  • Post-doctoral researcher 1.1.2012-31.12.2012, funded by Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation (University of Chicago Jan – Aug, University of Helsinki Sep – Dec.)
  • Editor in chief of the Helsinki based Swedish language weekly cultural magazine Ny Tid 1.4.2009-31.12.2011 (on parental and research leave 11.6.2010-26.7.2011).
  • Post-doctoral researcher, funded by Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation and Oskar Öflund foundation, 1.2.2011-27.7.2011
  • Doctoral student, funded by Emil Aaltonen Foundation, 1.8.2008-31.3.2009
  • Doctoral student, funded by Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation, 1.8.2007 – 31.7.2008.
  • Doctoral student, funded by University of Helsinki Science foundation, 1.8.2006 – 31.7.2007.
  • Coordinator, Dept. of Philosophy, University of Helsinki, (50 % administration of the Swedish language study program in philosophy, exchange programs and foreign students,
  • 50 % research)1.9.2005-31.7.2006.

Part time appointments (major and/or recent):

  • Sep. 2000 – the present: Academic teaching (seminars, lecture courses) at the University of Helsinki, an average of 1 course/year. (See below.)
  • Aug. 2011 – Dec. 2011: Participated bimonthly in philosophical talks on the TV show “Min Morgon” on FST 5, a Swedish language channel of YLE.
  • 2008 – 2011: Participated in the monthly radio talk show Gästabudet on Radio Vega, a Swedish language channel of YLE.
  • Jan. 2005 – Dec. 2005: Teacher of religion (Evangelic Lutheran) at Åshöjdens grundskola (Secondary school), Helsinki.
  • Feb. 2004 – May 2004: Stand in teacher at Åshöjdens grundskola (Elementary school)

Longer stays abroad:
Jan. 2012 – Aug. 2012, Visiting Researcher, University of Chicago.

Academic teaching

Co-supervisor (with Olli Lagerspetz) of doctoral student Julia Knezevic’s dissertation project titled: “Kitsch as Paradox – in the Museum, in the Attic and in Everyday Life”, at Åbo Akademi University, 2016 –.


  • Write Now! HCAS Winter School on Humanities and Social Sciences. Lecture and seminar. (12 h)
  • The Self in Ethics and Political Philosophy, University of Helsinki, Autumn term 2014 (24 h)
  • Philosophy, ethics and the uses of literature (Martha Nussbaum, Cora Diamond, Iris Murdoch, Stanley Cavell, Robert Pippin, J.M. Coetzee etc.), University of Helsinki, Autumn term 2012. (28 h)
  • Narrative as a mode of explanation and understanding (with Bernt Österman), University of Helsinki, autumn terms 2008-2009 (4 h/year) 2010-2015 (10h/year).
  • The limits of the argumentative text, (Plato, Kierkegaard, Cora Diamond, J.M. Coetzee) University of Helsinki, spring term 2011 (12 h)
  • Introduction to ethics (with Bernt Österman) University of Helsinki, autumn term 2009. (12 h)
  • Reading seminar in philosophy and literature (Praktikum i filosofiska genrer), University of Helsinki spring term 2008. (24 h)
  • Reading seminar in ethics, University of Helsinki, autumn term 2006. (24 h)
  • Reading seminar in 20th century philosophy (with Fredrik Westerlund), University of Helsinki autumn term 2005. (24 h, shared responsibility)
  • Lecturer in legal philosophy at the course ”Rättens dimensioner”, an introductory course for first year law students, University of Helsinki, autumn term 2005. (8 h)
  • Introduction to philosophy, Svenska Folkakademin in Borgå, spring term 2005. (Academic course at the open university of Åbo Akademi.) (26 h)
  • Reading seminar in the history of philosophy for first year students, University of Helsinki autumn term 2004 (with Jonas Lillqvist), 2003 (with Valter Pohjola) och 2000 (with Kim Wikström). (72 h, shared responsibility) The course was a supplementary course to Introduction to the History of Philosophy, focused on reading and discussing original texts and led by two masters- or doctoral students.

Editorial responsibilities

Editor-in-chief (one of four editors-in-chief) for Sats - Nordic Journal of Philosophy, 2016 –
Member of the editorial board: Sats - Nordic Journal of Philosophy, 2007 – present


I. Books
2016: Descriptive Ethics: What Does Moral Philosophy Know About Morality? New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
2015: Literature and Moral Theory. New York: Bloomsbury.

II Peer-reviewed original articles

  • 2016: “Sophie, Antigone, Elizabeth – Rethinking Ethics by Reading Literature”, in Fictional Characters, Real Problems: The search for Ethical Content in Literature, ed. Garry Hagberg, Oxford University Press)
  • 2016: “Latour’s Empirical Metaphysics”, co-authored with Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen, Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory 17:1, pp. 20-37.
  • 2016: “Self-Help and the Moral Present – The Sociologist as Moral Philosopher”, Human Studies 39:2, pp 289–306.
  • 2016: “Galilei eller Gud eller nån”, in Tankens utåtvändhet. Georg Henrik von Wright som intellektuell. Eds. Johan Strang and Thomas Wallgren. Helsinki: Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland.
  • 2015: “Reduce Ourselves to Zero? - Sabina Lovibond, Iris Murdoch and Feminism”, Hypatia 
  • 2014: “The Ethics of Remembering People and the Fact/Value Dichotomy – Doris Lessing and Iris Murdoch”, The Pluralist vol. 9, no. 2. pp. 84-102.
  • 2014: “What is a Wittgensteinian Neo-Platonist? – Iris Murdoch, Metaphysics and Metaphor”, Philosophical Papers 43:2, pp. 191-225.
  • 2013:  “What is Metaphysics in Murdoch’s Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals”, Sats – Northern European Journal of Philosophy, Volume 14, Issue 1 (Nov 2013), pp. 1-20.
  • 2013: “The Personal Pilgrimage of David Lurie – Or Why Disgrace Should and Should Not be Read in Terms of an Ethics of Perception”, Partial Answers – Journal for Literature and the History of Ideas, Volume 11, Issue 2, June 2013, pp. 233-55.
  • 2012: “Honour, Dignity and the Realm of Meaning”, in Language, Ethics and Animal Life – Wittgenstein and Beyond, eds. Mikel Burley, Niklas Forsberg and Nora Hämäläinen, Bloomsbury, New York, pp. 179-194.
  • 2009: “Is Moral Theory Harmful in Practice? – Relocating Anti-theory in Contemporary Ethics”. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice No. 5, November 2009, pp. 539-553.
  • 2006: “Finding a Place for Moral Theory”. Sats – Nordic Journal of Philosophy vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 22-36.
  • 2006: ”Litteratur i moralfilosofin – Nussbaum, aristotelism och teorikritik” (Literature in Moral Philosophy – Nussbaum, Aristotelianism and criticism of theories). Ajatus: The Yearbook of the Finnish Philosophical Society, pp. 229-255.

III. Book Chapters (not peer reviewed)

  • 2014: ”G. H. von Wrights dygdbegrepp och vårt moderna begrepp om moral”. Hämäläinen, N., Lemetti, J. & Niiniluoto, I. (eds.). Helsinki: Filosofisia tutkimuksia Helsingin yliopistosta, Vol. 45, p. 1-399.
  • 2009: ”Åskådningsmässiga ramverk och etiska teorier – Två vägar till det etiska livet?” (Religious Frameworks and Ethical Theories – Two Paths to the Ethical Life?). In Usko, eds. Pietarinen, Pihlström, Toppinen. Philosophical studies from the University of Helsinki 22, pp. 333-341.
  • 2009:”Några anmärkningar om den moraliska förståelsen som seende och bild“ (Some Remarks on Moral Understanding as Seeing and Images). In Kuva eds. Haaparanta, Klemola, Kotkavirta, Pihlström. Philosophical Studies from the University of Tampere, pp. 164-172.

IV. Review articles

  • 2015: Review of Nick Fotion: Theory vs. Anti-theory in Ethics – A Misconceived Conflict, Oxford 2014, in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
  • 2014: Review of Filosofian ja kirjallisuuden rajapintoja tutkimassa (Jukka Mikkonen, & Antti Salminen (toim.): Kirjallisuus ja filosofia – Rinnakkaisuuksia, risteyksiä, ristiriitoja. Tietolipas 237. Helsinki: SKS, 2013. 183 s.), in Joutsen : kotimaisen kirjallisuudentutkimuksen vuosikirja. 1, 1, p. 113-115.
  • 2013: Review of Maria Antonaccio: A Philosophy to Live By – Engaging Iris Murdoch, in Heythrop Journal, Symposium on Antonaccio’s A Philosophy to Live By, with contributions by Nora Hämäläinen, David Robjant and Maria Antonaccio.
  • 2011: Review of Sabina Lovibond: Iris Murdoch, Gender and Philosophy, Routledge 2011, in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
  • 2011: Review of Sami Pihlström: Transcendental Guilt – Reflections on Ethical Finitude, Lexington Books 2011, in Journal of Value Inquiry.

V. Edited volumes
2014: Hyve (Virtue), eds. Nora Hämäläinen, Juhana Lemetti and Ilkka Niiniluoto. Philosophical Studies from the University of Helsinki.
2012: Language, Ethics and Animal Life – Wittgenstein and Beyond, eds. Niklas Forsberg, Mikel Burley and Nora Hämäläinen, Bloomsbury.
2008: Skilsmässoboken (The Divorce Book, non-academic), eds. Solveig Arle and Nora Hämäläinen, Söderströms förlag (now Schildts&Söderströms), Helsinki.

VI. Essays, non academic (in selection)

  • 2016: ”Filosofen som försökte ta samtiden på allvar” (essay on the philosopher Georg Henrik von Wright, 100 years after his birth), Svenska Dagbladet 14.6.2016.
  • 2016: ”Kärlekens asymmetri” (essay on Roland Barthes’ book Fragments d’un discours amoureux in new Swedish translation), Hufvudstadsbladet 29.6.2016.
  • 2015: “Essän som innehåll”, Ikaros 4/2015
  • 2015: ”Vetenskapen som yrke och kunskapens bräcklighet”, Ikaros 3/2015.
  • 2015: ”Ögonbindeln, eller den moderna människans begär” (essay on Siri Hustvedts novel The Blindfold), Hufvudstadsbladet 25.7.2015.
  • 2015: Self-help – rakkaus, muutos, talous ja terapia. Niin & Näin 1/2015.
  • 2012: “Självhjälp, själv och samhälle” (Self-help, Self and Society), Ad Lucem 2/2012.
  • 2011: ”David Luries väg” (David Lurie’s way”, essay on J.M. Coetzee’s novel Disgrace and Ethics), Ny Tid 16.12.2011.
  • 2011: “Tre essäer om filosofi och litteratur: 1, 2, 3” (Three Essays on Philosophy and Literature: 1, 2, 3). Ny Tid 12.8.2011, 26.8.2011, 9.9.2011.
  • 2008: ”Sokrates i dockhemmet” (Socrates in the Dolls House). In Arle, Hämäläinen (ed.) Skilsmässoboken, Söderströms förlag, Helsinki.
  • 2008: ”Insikten blir en klump i handen”. (The Insight Turns into a Lump in his Hand –  Essay on Ludwig Wittgenstein) Hufvudstadsbladet 8.9.2008.
  • 2008: ”Atticus Finch, Odysseus och jag” (Atticus Finch, Odysseus and I). In Ny Tid 25-30/2008, and in Vandingar och speglingar – Hans Ruintävlingen 2008, eds. Maria Antas och Håkan Näsman.
  • 2007: ”Vem är man om man blundar – och vem är man när man ser?”. (Who am I when I close my eyes – and who am I when I look? Essay about the Finnish director Klaus Härö’s films from a moral philosophical perspective.) Ny Tid 12/2007

Other publications for general audience
Editorials, book reviews, interviews and essays on literature, philosophy, politics, etc., primarily in Ny Tid (148 articles between 2007 and 2016) where I have worked as editor-in-chief 2009-2011, but also occasionally Hufvudstadsbladet,  Åbo Underrättelser, Astra Nova, Nya Argus. All publications in Ny Tid should be available on the journal’s website:

VII. Academic talks at conferences and symposia
22.4.2016: Benefits and Problems of Narrative Literature as a Vehicle of Post-Wittgensteinian Moral Philosophy, invited talk at the symposium Doing Ethics After Wittgenstein, Universität Zürich.

25.2.2016: Literature and Moral Change, key note address at the PAL Young Scholars Workshop, Duke University, North Carolina.

25.9.2015: Woolf Hall and Moral Personhood. Frontiers in the Philosophy of Literature, 25-26.9.2015 University of Southern Denmark.Odense.

14.9.2015: Dewey Wittgenstein and the Descriptive Project of Moral Philosophy. Invited talk at the symposium Pragmatism, Wittgenstein, and the Virtues: Three Heterodox Approaches to Ethics 14-15.9.2015, University College Dublin.

16.6.2015: Pure Consciousness and Morality (Murdoch, Sekida, Weil). Women in the History of Philosophy 15-16.6.2015, University of Helsinki.

6.3/2015: Self-Help Practices of Valuation. Sosiologipäivät 5-6.3.2015, University of Helsinki.

13.1/2015: Sukupuoliero ja moraalinen muutos. SFY:n Sukupuoli-kollokvio 12-13.1.2015. University of Jyväskylä.

13.9/2014: Pure Consciousness and Morality. Archives and Afterlife - The Seventh International Conference on Iris Murdoch, Kingston University, UK, 12-13 September, 2014.

25.8/2014: The Allure and Limits of Post-Foucauldian Responses to Self-Help. Power, Culture and Economy, Tampere, 25-27 August 2014.

24.7/2014: The Roots of Morality in ‘Ordinary Life’. 4th Colloquium on the Modalities of the Good, 23rd – 25th July 2014, Prague, Czech Republic.

23.5/2014: Emotional Capitalism and the Epistemology of Suspicion. Workshop on Pathologies of recognition, May 23-24 2014 Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Study.
21.5/2014: The Emotional Horizon of the Self-Help Culture. Emotion, Representation, Mind – Interdisciplinary Symposium, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Study.

21.2/2014: Methodological Implications of Iris Murdoch’s Conception of Moral Philosophy. Iris Murdoch and Virtue Ethics: Philosophy and the Novel, Tre Roma University.

8.1/2014: G. H. von Wright dygdbegrepp och vårt moderna begrepp om moral. SFY:n Hyve-kollokvio 7-8.1.2014, University of Helsinki.

10.10/2013: The Blind Spot of an Ethics of Vision? – Sabina Lovibond, Iris Murdoch and Feminism. Women, Truth, Action. 10–12 October 2013, University of Helsinki.

3.9/2013: History Through the Lens of a Life and a Life Through the Lens of History – The Case of Doris Lessing’s Parents. The Ethics of Storytelling: War, Trauma, Vulnerability, University of Turku, September 1-3, 2013.

31.5/2013: Cora Diamond, Alice Crary and an Extended Conception of Rationality. Literary Fiction and Rationality, University of Tampere, May 30-31, 2013.

25.5/2013: The Practice of “What We Say When” and Why Communication Breaks Down. The Contemporary Significance of Ordinary Language Philosophy. Åbo Akademi University, 24-25.5.2013

14.9/2012: Senses of Metaphysics in Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals. Baggy Monsters – 6th international Iris Murdoch Conference. Kingston University, London, September 14-15.

26.3/2010: Dignity as a Moral Concept. Language, ethics and animal life – conference arranged by the Nordic Wittgenstein Society, Uppsala University.

29.5/2009: What is a Wittgensteinian Neo-Platonist? Uppsala Murdoch Symposium, Uppsala University.

5.5/2009: Literature, Moral Realism and Rorty, Philosophy and/as Literature. Kings College London May 4–5, 2009.

4.10/2008: Avoiding Closure – Wittgenstein, Murdoch and the Form of Philosophical Thought, Wittgenstein and philosophical authorship – workshop arranged by the Nordic Network for Wittgenstein Research, University of Helsinki, October 3–4, 2008.

1.8/2008: Mere examples or independent thought – the role of narratives in contemporary moral philosophy, THE 11th INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF ISSEI International Society for the Study of European Ideas, University of Helsinki, July 28–August 2, 2008.

10.5/2008: Two particularisms – between Dancy and Swansea, Meliparen third day, Sorbonne 1, Paris.

20.3/2008: Is Ethical Theory Destructive in Practice, 10-year conference of the journal Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.

8.9/2007: Moral Particularism and Narrative Fiction, SEFA 5 Fifth Conference of the Spanish Society of Analytic Philosophy, Universitat de Barcelona, September 7–9, 2007.

11/2006: An Ethics of Perception and the Political Dimension, Aesthetics and Politics. Law, Literature and Philosophy, Södertörn college & Kungliga tekniska högskolan, Stockholm.