Nora Hämäläinen



Research interests

Moral philosophy, virtue ethics, moral personhood, moral change, ethics and power, moral anthropology, philosophy and literature, philosophical methodology, Iris Murdoch, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Michel Foucault.

I am currently working on two interrelated projects: I am completing a monograph called The Making of the Good Person: Moral Philosophy, Self-Help and Technologies of the Self, where I look at some discussions on self-transformation and self-development in philosophy and popular culture. I am also working on a long term project on moral change (the change and renegotiation of moral frameworks and axioms).


Previous positions (after PhD)

2017 – 2018: Senior Researcher, Kone Foundation and University of Helsinki
2016 – 2017: Erik Allardt fellow, Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala
2013 – 2016: Research fellow, Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies (HCAS)
9/2012 – 3/2013: Post-doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki, funded by Otto A. Malm Foundation and Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation.
1/2012 – 8/2012 Visiting Researcher, University of Chicago, funded by Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation.
4/2009 – 12/2011 Editor-in-chief of the Helsinki based Swedish language weekly cultural magazine Ny Tid (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

Education and degrees awarded

Docent in philosophy, University of Helsinki, 2016.

PhD, March 2010, University of Helsinki, with the dissertation A Literary Turn – Rethinking the Roles of Generalization and Theory in Anglo-American Moral Philosophy, defended in December 2009.

MA December 2003, University of Helsinki.

Matriculation 1997, Brändö gymnasium, Helsinki.




2019: Är Trump postmodern: En essä om sanning och populism. Helsinki: Förlaget M. (Non-academic)

2016: Descriptive Ethics: What Does Moral Philosophy Know About Morality? New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

2015: Literature and Moral Theory. New York: Bloomsbury.


Edited volumes

2019: Reading Iris Murdoch's Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals, eds. Nora Hämäläinen and Gillian Dooley, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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, New York: Bloomsbury.

2008: Skilsmässoboken (The Divorce Book), eds. Solveig Arle and Nora Hämäläinen, Helsinki: Söderströms förlag (now Schildts&Söderströms, non-academic).


Research articles and book chapters

Forthcoming: “The Ontological Argument”, in The Murdochian Mind, eds. Mark Hopwood and Silvia Panizza. London: Routledge.

Forthcoming: “Sara Lidman’s Secular Conception of Original Sin”, Philosophy and Literature.

2021: “Wittgenstein, ethics and fieldwork in philosophy”. In Ethics After Wittgenstein: Contemplation and Critique, eds. Richard Amesbury and Hartmut von Sass, Bloomsbury.

2021: “Contextuality, Bioethics, and the Nature of Philosophy: Reflections on Murdoch, Diamond, Walker, and the Groningen Approach”, IJFAB: International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 14:1, 103-119.

2020: "Inconsistency in Ethics", Philosophy 95:4, 447-470.

2020: “Iris Murdoch on Pure Consciousness and Morality” in Methodological Reflections on Women’s Contribution and Influence in the History of Philosophy, eds. Sigridur Thorgeirsdottir and Ruth Hagengruber, Springer.

2020: ”Galilei, Jumala tai joku vastaava”, in Georg Henrik von Wright – modernin ajan ajattelija, eds. Johan Strang & Thomas Wallgren. Helsinki: Gaudeamus. (The article is a Finnish translation of ”Galilei eller Gud eller någon” 2016, below.)

2020: “A Case for Moral History–Universality and Change in Ethics after Wittgenstein”, Philosophical Investigations, 43:4, 363-381.

2019: “Literature and Moral Change: Rupture, Universality and Self-Understanding” in Narrative and Self-Understanding, ed. Garry Hagberg, Palgrave Macmillan.

2019: “Wolf Hall and Moral Personhood”, Ethics & Bioethics (in Central Europe), 2019, 9 (3–4), 197–207.

2019: “Void” in Reading Iris Murdoch's Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals, eds. Nora Hämäläinen and Gillian Dooley, Palgrave Macmillan.

2019: Introduction to Reading Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals, co-authored with Gillian Dooley (Flinders University), in Reading Iris Murdoch's Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals, eds. Nora Hämäläinen and Gillian Dooley, Palgrave Macmillan.

2019: “Work, Aging and Justice”, Martha Nussbaum: Ancient Philosophy, Civic Education and Liberal Humanism, eds. Anders Burman & Synne Myrebøe, Sodertorn Studies in Intellectual and Cultural History 1, Sodertorn Academic Studies 77.

2018 “Iris Murdoch and the Descriptive Aspect of Moral Philosophy”, Iris Murdoch Review No. 9.

2017: “Three Metaphors toward a Conception of Moral Change”, Nordic Wittgenstein Review 6:2 (eds. Simo Säätelä, Gisela Bengtsson & Tove Österman)

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.

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.

2015: “Reduce Ourselves to Zero? - Sabina Lovibond, Iris Murdoch and Feminism”, Hypatia 30:4, pp. 743-759.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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


Book reviews (academic)

2021 (forthcoming): "Tensile moral subjects", contribution to Syndicate symposium on Joseph Wiinikka-Lydon's Moral Injury and the Promise of Virtue (Palgrave Macmillan 2019).

2020: Review of Kenneth Asher, Literature, Ethics, and the Emotions (Cambridge UP, 2017), in Modern Philology.

2018: Contribution to symposium on Hanna Meretoja’s book The Ethics of Storytelling (Oxford 2017), Ajatus, yearbook of the Philosophical Society of Finland 2018.

2018: Contribution to Syndicate symposium on Alice Crary´s Inside Ethics

2017: Three Chapters on Murdoch, with Niklas Forsberg, Iris Murdoch Review No. 8.

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.


Essays (in selection)

2020: ”Corona-appar och digitala dystopier”, FRLGT, 23.5.2020.

2020: ”Vi behöver inte marknadens välsignelse”, Ny Tid, 15.5.2020.

2019: ”Vaccintvekan och kunskapsmoralism”, Ikaros 2/19.

2018: “Den kluvna von Wright”, Finsk Tidskrift 6/2018.

2017: ”Den triviala vardagen och vad den kan lära oss om gott och ont”, Hufvudstadsbladet 29.1.2017.

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: ”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: ”Insikten blir en klump i handen”. (The Insight Turns into a Lump in his Hand –  Essay on Ludwig Wittgenstein) Hufvudstadsbladet 8.9.2008.

2008: ”Sokrates i dockhemmet” (Socrates in the Dolls House). In Arle, Hämäläinen (ed.) Skilsmässoboken, Söderströms förlag, Helsinki.

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). All publications in Ny Tid should be available on the journal’s website: Columns (söndagsanalys) in Hufvudstadsbladet, a Helsinki based Swedish language daily, since May 2017.


Recent talks (in selection)

12.3.2020: Fanclub, myt, biografi och filosofi: fallet Iris Murdoch. Invited talk at the seminar Biografins filosofi, filosofins biografi, von Wright and Wittgenstein arkivet, University of Helsinki.

25.11.2019: Metaphors of Change: How to Think about Moral Change, invited talk at research seminar in philosophy, Aarhus Univeristy.

14.11.2019: LGBTQ-rights lessons, Religious Dogmatism and Clashing Vulnerabilities. Contextual Ethics I, Syddansk Universitetet, Odense 14-15.11.2019.

2.10.2019: Inconsistncy in Ethics, invited talk at Jednota filozofická, Department of Philosophy, Univerzita Palackého, Olomouc.

14.9.2019: A case of moral change: LGBTQ-rights lessons vs. religious dogmatism, Disagreement, (in)tolerance and political discourse, University of Pardubice 12-14.9.2019.

22.8.2019: A self in the text, Keeping it Honest: Vulnerable writing (10th conference of the Nordic Wittgenstein Society), August 22-23, 2019, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.

13.7.2019: How to do things with the ontological proof, Iris Murdoch centenary conference, University of Oxford 13-15.7.2019.

8.11.2018: Wolf Hall and Moral Personhood, key note address at In/outside the Frame, Literature and Cultural Studies Conference, University of Pardubice.

4.10.2018: “Sara Lidman’s Secular Conception of Original Sin”, key note talk at 2nd Graduate Workshop on Fiction and Philosophy Lund University, Department of Philosophy.

11.9.2018: Selfhelpiä uskonnoon sijaan (Self-help instead of religion), invited talk at the workshop Sekulaari pyhä (The secular holy), organized by Research Network Sacred in Secular Societies, University of Helsinki.

15.3.2018. ”Normativity, Empirical Input and Redescription: A Case from Bioethics.” Contextual Ethics, Syddanske Universitet, Odense.

16.2.2018: Sara Lidman, synden och maten, at Tanke, dikt, handling: Sara Lidmans litteratur och verkan i världen (symposium on the work of the Swedish author Sara Lidman 1923-2004).

24.11.2017: Arbete, åldrande och rättvisa, invited talk at Martha Nussbaum: Antik filosofi, medborglig bildning och liberal humanism, Södertörn University.

28.9.2017: The foundational project and a different way of going below the surface, CE launch workshop: Picturing the Human, Pardubice, 26-28.9.2017.

14.9.2017: A Case for Moral History – Universality and Change in Ethics after Wittgenstein, invited talk at Alternative Contemporary Ethics, Sapienza University, Rome 14-15.9.2017.

2.9.2017: The Concept of Void in Murdoch and Weil – The Significance of the Difference, for “Gender and Trauma, The Eight International Conference on Iris Murdoch,” 1-2 September 2017.

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.