John Lippitt, Ph.D

Professor of Philosophy

Principal Investigator, Combatting Self-Righteousness: ERC CZ Grant No. LL2308


Location: 07 023, building G

Research Interests

Kierkegaard; ethics and moral psychology of virtues and vices; theological ethics; forgiveness; philosophy of love and friendship. profile; Google Scholar profile

John Lippitt is a Professor of Philosophy at both the Centre for Ethics in Pardubice and the Institute for Ethics and Society at the University of Notre Dame Australia, where he served as Institute Director from 2020-2024. Prior to that he worked for over 25 years at the University of Hertfordshire, where he remains a Visiting Professor. Probably best known for his work on Kierkegaard, his 45,000,000 CZK ERC-CZ research project at Pardubice (beginning 2024) focuses on self-righteousness as a vice of the digital age and how it may be combatted.

Education and Qualifications

2000 Ph.D. in Philosophy, University of Essex

1992 M.Litt. in Philosophy, University of Durham

1988 BSc (Hons), in Mathematics and Philosophy, University of Manchester

Previous Positions

2020 –2024   Director, Institute for Ethics and Society, The University of Notre Dame Australia.

1992 – 2020 Professor of Ethics and Philosophy of Religion (2008-20), University of Hertfordshire, UK (Director of Research, Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities Research Institute (2009-2013); Reader 2001-08; Senior Lecturer 1994-2001; Lecturer 1992-94)

Research Projects and Awards* include:

  • CZK 45,000,000 “Combatting Self-Righteousness: A Vice of the Digital Age”, ERC-CZ Grant LL2308, 2024-28.
  • AU$20,000 "Developing Virtuous Character in Educational Institutions" (with Annette Pierdziwol and Tim Smartt), Industry Collaboration Research Grant, The Scots College, Sydney, 2020-21
  • AU$12,516 "Screening Virtue – the Importance of Character(s) in Film and Television"" (with Sylvie Magerstädt), The University of Notre Dame Australia Research Grant Scheme, 2020-21
  • £92,235 “Love's Forgiveness,” Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship, 2018–2020.
  • €172,903 “Selves in Time,” (with Patrick Stokes) Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship Scheme, 2010–2012.
  • £2,823 “Immortal Goods: Critical Friendships Amongst Beginning Undergraduates,” (with Brendan Larvor), Higher Education Academy, 2009–2010.
  • £4,931 “Wot u @ Uni 4?: Expectations and Actuality of Studying Philosophy at University,” (with Brendan Larvor), Higher Education Academy, 2008–2009.
  • US$18,000 “The Quest for Unity: Narrative, Self and Ethics,” Hong Kierkegaard Library, USA, 2004–2005.
  • £3,711 “The Quest for Unity: Narrative, Self and Ethics,” British Academy Travel Award, 2004–2005.
  • £10,000 "Kierkegaard’s Humorist", UK Arts and Humanities Research Board Research Leave Scheme Award, 1999-2000

*As Principal Investigator unless otherwise stated.




  • Kierkegaard’s Early Discourses (Cambridge University Press, under contract).
  • Love’s Forgiveness: Kierkegaard, Resentment, Humility, and Hope. (Oxford University Press, 2020).
  • The Routledge Guidebook to Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling (Routledge 2016, second edition [first edition 2003]).
  • Kierkegaard and the Problem of Self-Love (Cambridge University Press, 2013).
  • Humour and Irony in Kierkegaard’s Thought (Palgrave Macmillan, 2000)

Edited Volumes

  • Narrative, Identity and the Kierkegaardian Self (Edinburgh University Press, 2015). Co-edited with Patrick Stokes.
  • The Oxford Handbook of Kierkegaard (Oxford University Press, 2013). Co-edited with George Pattison.
  • Nietzsche and the Divine (Clinamen, 2000). Co-edited with Jim Urpeth.
  • Nietzsche's Futures (Palgrave Macmillan, 1999).

Articles and book chapters

  • ‘Kierkegaard, “the public”, and the vices of virtue-signaling: the dangers of social comparison’, in Religions 14, no. 11: 1370, 2023
  • ‘Søren Kierkegaard’ (with C. Stephen Evans), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2023
  • ‘Hope in the task of forgiveness’, in Erin Plunkett (ed.), Kierkegaard and Possibility, Bloomsbury, 2023
  • ‘Kierkegaard on forgiveness’, in Glen Pettigrove and Robert Enright (eds), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy and Psychology of Forgiveness, Routledge, 2023
  • Søren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling’, in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Teaching and Learning Resources, 2021
  • ‘Self-forgiveness and the moral perspective of humility: Ian McEwan’s Atonement’, in Philosophy and Literature, in vol. 43 no. 1, 2019. (Selected for republication in Garry L. Hagberg (ed.), Narrative and Self-Understanding, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019)
  • ‘Beyond worry: on learning humility from the lilies and the birds’, in Adam Buben, Eleanor Helms and Patrick Stokes (eds), The Kierkegaardian Mind, Routledge, 2019
  • ‘Jest as humility: Kierkegaard and the limits of earnestness’, in Lydia Moland (ed.), All too Human: Humor, Comedy and Laughter in Nineteenth Century Philosophy, Springer, 2018
  • ‘Forgiveness: a work of love?’, in Parrhesia: a journal of critical philosophy, issue 28, 2017
  • ‘Kierkegaard on love’, in Christopher Grau and Aaron Smuts (eds), The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Love, Oxford University Press, 2017 (online first)
  • ‘Kierkegaard’s virtues: humility and gratitude as the grounds of contentment, patience and hope in Kierkegaard’s moral psychology’, in Stephen Minister, J. Aaron Simmons and Michael Strawser (eds), Kierkegaard’s God and the Good Life, Indiana University Press, 2017
  • ‘What can therapists learn from Kierkegaard?’, in Manu Bazzano and Julie Webb (eds), Therapy and the Counter-tradition, Routledge, 2016
  • ‘Self-knowledge in Kierkegaard’, in Ursula Renz (ed.), Self-Knowledge (Oxford Philosophical Concepts), Oxford University Press, 2016
  • ‘Giving the “dear self” its due: Kierkegaard, Frankfurt and self-love’, in John J. Davenport and Anthony Rudd (eds), Love, Reason and Will: Kierkegaard after Frankfurt, Bloomsbury, 2015
  • ‘Forgiveness and the Rat Man: Kierkegaard and “narrative unity” revisited’, in Lippitt and Stokes (eds), Narrative, Identity and the Kierkegaardian Self, Edinburgh University Press, 2015
  • ‘Learning to hope: the role of hope in Fear and Trembling’, in Daniel W. Conway (ed.), Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling: A Critical Guide, Cambridge University Press, 2015
  • ‘Forgiveness’, in Steven Emmanuel, William McDonald and Jon Stewart (eds), Kierkegaard Research: Sources, Reception and Resources, vol. 15: Kierkegaard’s Concepts, Tome III: Envy to Incognito, Ashgate, 2014
  • ‘Kierkegaard and moral philosophy: some recent themes’, in Lippitt and Pattison (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Kierkegaard, Oxford University Press, 2013
  • ‘Kierkegaard and the problem of special relationships: Ferreira, Krishek and the “God filter”’, in International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, vol. 72-3, 2012
  • ‘The Kierkegaardian self and person-centred therapy’, in Helle Møller Jensen and George Pattison (eds), Kierkegaard’s Pastoral Dialogues, Wipf & Stock, 2012
  • ‘Can a Christian be a friend? God, friendship and love of neighbor’, in Damian Caluori (ed.), Thinking about Friendship: Historical and Contemporary Philosophical Perspectives, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012
  • ‘Erich Fromm: the integrity of the self and the practice of love’, in Jon Stewart (ed.) Kierkegaard Research: Sources, Reception and Resources, vol. 13, Kierkegaard’s Influence on the Social Sciences, Ashgate, 2011
  • ‘Critical friendships among beginning philosophers’ (with Brendan Larvor and Kathryn Weston), in Discourse: Learning and Teaching in Philosophical and Religious Studies, vol. 10-2, 2011
  • ‘Irony and humour in the Postscript’, in Rick Anthony Furtak (ed.) Kierkegaard’s Concluding Unscientific Postscript: A Critical Guide, Cambridge University Press, 2010
  • ‘True self-love and true self-sacrifice’, in International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, vol. 66, 2009
  • ‘Humour’, in Stephen Davies, Kathleen Marie Higgins, Robert Hopkins, Robert Stecker and David E. Cooper (eds), A Companion to Aesthetics, second edition, Blackwell, 2009
  • ‘What u @ uni 4?: student expectations and actuality of studying philosophy at university’ (with Brendan Larvor), in Discourse: Learning and Teaching in Philosophical and Religious Studies, vol. 9-1, 2009
  • ‘What neither Abraham nor Johannes de silentio could say’, in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary, Volume vol. 82-1, 2008
  • ‘Cracking the mirror: on Kierkegaard's concerns about friendship’, in International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, vol. 61, 2007
  • ‘Getting the story straight: Kierkegaard, MacIntyre and some problems with narrative, in Inquiry, vol. 50, 2007
  • ‘Second selves and genuine others: Kierkegaard and Aristotle on friendship and self-love’, in Thomas Jay Oord (ed.) The Many Facets of Love: Philosophical Explorations, Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007
  • ‘Lewis, Kierkegaard and friendship’, in Daryl McCarthy, Bob VanderVennen and Joy McBride (eds), Surprised by Faith: Conversion and the Academy, Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007
  • ‘Telling tales: Johannes Climacus and “narrative unity”’, in Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook 2005, Walter de Gruyter, 2005
  • ‘Is a sense of humour a virtue?’, in The Monist, vol. 88-1, 2005
  • ‘Humour and religion: humour, irony and the comic in western theology and philosophy’, in Lindsay Jones et al (eds), The Encyclopedia of Religion, second edition, Macmillan, 2005
  • ‘Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and the narratives of faith’, in Lippitt and Urpeth (eds) Nietzsche and the Divine, Clinamen Press, 2000
  • ‘On authority and revocation: Climacus as humorist’, in Gordon D. Marino, Paul Houe and Sven H. Rossel (eds), Authority and Anthropology: Essays on Søren Kierkegaard, Editions Rodopi, 2000
  • ‘Illusion and satire in Kierkegaard's Postscript’, in Continental Philosophy Review, vol. 32-4, 1999
  • ‘Laughter: A Tool in Moral Perfectionism?’, in Lippitt (ed.) Nietzsche’s Futures, Macmillan, 1999
  • ‘Making Sense of Nonsense: Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein’ (with Daniel Hutto), in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Vol. XCVIII, 1998
  • ‘A Funny Thing Happened to Me on the Way to Salvation: Climacus as Humorist in Kierkegaard’s Concluding Unscientific Postscript’, in Religious Studies, Vol. 33-2, 1997. (Reprinted in Daniel W. Conway (ed.), Søren Kierkegaard: Critical Assessments of Leading Philosophers, Vol. III, Routledge, 2002)
  • ‘Existential Laughter’, in Cogito, vol. 10-1, 1996
  • ‘Humour & Release’, in Cogito, vol. 9-2, 1995
  • ‘Humour & Superiority’, in Cogito, vol. 9-1, 1995
  • ‘Humour & Incongruity’, in Cogito, vol. 8-2, 1994
  • ‘Nietzsche, Zarathustra and the Status of Laughter’, in British Journal of Aesthetics, Vol. 32-1, 1992

Media Appearances include:

  • Kierkegaard and forgiveness’, Interview with Professor Camelia Raghinaru about my book Love’s Forgiveness, Theory to No End podcast, September 2022
  • Forgiveness up close’, interview with Meredith Lake, ABC Soul Search, October 2021
  • ‘What would it mean to see forgiveness as a “work of love”?’, ABC Religion and Ethics, May 2021
  • ‘The Pharisee on Social Media: Virtue Signalling and the Vice of Self-righteousness’, Comment magazine vol. 39-2 (Spring 2021)
  • “Dread, Time and the Pandemic: Kierkegaard on Worry.” Standpoint magazine (July 2020)
  • (With Assistant Chief Constable Nathan Briant), ‘The Only Way is Ethics’, cover story in Police Professional issue 646, March 2019
  • Kierkegaard, guest on BBC Radio 4 In Our Time, March 2008

Teaching Experience

I have taught undergraduate and postgraduate units in Philosophy and Religious Studies for over 25 years, covering various topics in ancient, modern and contemporary philosophy; ethics; and world religions. I have supervised to successful completion several PhDs in my areas of expertise and examined PhD theses in Australia, the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

Other Professional Service

Other professional activities have included serving as an ethics advisor to UK police forces (work that was the subject of an Impact Case Study for REF 2021); organising various conferences, seminar series and public lectures in the UK and Australia; serving as a member of the Peer Review College of the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Advisory Panel of the Leverhulme Trust; and serving as a member of the Editorial Board of book series for Oxford University Press and Rowman & Littlefield. I have been a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy since 2010, a member of the Royal Institute of Philosophy Council (2016-2020) and was Deputy Chair of the University of Notre Dame Australia’s Research Committee (2021-2023). I am a member of the American Philosophical Association, the Australasian Association for Philosophy, the British Philosophical Association, the British and European Societies for Philosophy of Religion, and the Society of Christian Philosophers. I am a Past Secretary of the Kierkegaard Society of the UK.