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Professor of Philosophy, University of Sheffield

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.

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.


  • –present
    Professor of Philosophy, University of Sheffield