Nathan Hauthaler

"Im Rennen der Philosophie gewinnt, wer am langsamsten laufen kann. Oder: der, der das Ziel zuletzt erreicht." (another obscure Austrian philosopher)


I'm an Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Duke Kunshan University, a "Sino-Foreign" university in China, & an Assistant Professor of the Practice at Duke University, a chiefly foreign university in the United States. I work mainly on the nature of agency & action, from various vantage points, both systematic & historical (see Research, & our favorite Greek hero: Articles).
Previously I was a Barry Foundation Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania (PRRUCS), where I worked on the Anscombe Archive.
Before that (in 2020) I obtained a PhD in Philosophy at Stanford, where I co-founded & coordinated the research workshop Varieties of Agency (originally with Michael Bratman & Tamar Schapiro; most recently with David Hills & Barry Maguire).
Even earlier, I studied Philosophy as well as Law, in Austria, the Netherlands, & the UK, & worked on issues in public international law. You might find my CV here.


I mainly work on fundamental issues of human agency & action, from vantage points of philosophy of mind & action, metaphysics, epistemology, & ethics. In my dissertation I defend the thesis that intentional action constitutively involves a distinctively practical form of understanding of one’s doing that constitutes knowledge—practical knowledge. I defend the thesis focusing specifically on the ontology of action & the metaphysics of practical capacities exercised in intentional action.
More generally I am interested in the nature of action, practical cognition (practical thought, intention, reasoning), & practical constitution; also from historical vantage points, especially in Anscombe, Aristotle, and Classical Chinese philosophy.
I also work on various normative and applied questions concerning human agency, from questions concerning the nature & demands of friendship to applied & normative questions about the design of things we engage with.
For some of my current projects, see Articles. In subsequent work I will focus notably on social-structural determinant of agency & practical capacity: on how our social communities and milieus shape the contours of our agential outlook and constitution; how attending to them can in turn help understand the contours of our practical thinking & actions.
In public international law I remain particularly interested in issues about the use of force (ius ad bellum; in bello) & anti-discrimination law.


✧ (2022) "Strong Cognitivist Weaknesses". Analytic Philosophy, challenges the identification of intention with a form of belief.
✧ (2015) “Praktisches Unwissen und Irren”, Kertscher & Müller eds. (2015): Lebensform und Praxisform. Paderborn (Mentis). discusses forms of failure of practical thought & action.
✧ (2012): “Wittgenstein on Actions, Reasons, and Causes”, Marques & Venturinha eds. (2012): Knowledge, Language, and Mind. Wittgenstein's Early Investigations. Berlin (De Gruyter). discusses Wittgenstein on causation in action.
✧ (2012): “On the Responsibility to Protect and Its Emancipation from Humanitarian Intervention”, Mathis-Moser ed. (2012): Responsibility to Protect: A Canadian Heritage. Innsbruck (Innsbruck University Press). discusses the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect in comparison to the doctrine of Humanitarian Intervention.
✧ with Dan Cheely eds. Anscombe and the Anscombe Archive (University of Pennsylvania).
✧ "Anscombe on Basic Action: Doubts about Doubts", in Cheely and Hauthaler eds. discusses an unpublished manuscript of Anscombe's on "Doubts about 'Basic Action'".
Contracted (draft completed):
✧ "Practical Knowledge and Practical Knowledge", for Lucy Campbell's ed.
Forms of Knowledge (OUP). interprets Anscombe’s two notions of ‘practical knowledge’ in terms of practical capacity & felicitous exercise.
Under review:
[redacted]: challenges the dogma that all intentional action is done for reasons. An early version won the APA's 2020-21 Jean Hampton Prize in Philosophy.
[redacted]: challenges the idea of practical knowledge of past action;
In preparation for submission:
✧ “Actions, Processes, and Events”: defends a unified ontology of ongoing vs. concluded action;
“Wanting What One Wants”: disentangles various forms of wanting and of knowledge of them;
“On Intention as Action”: challenges the identification of intention with a form of action;
✧ "Extended Practical Cognition?": articulates limitations of the possibility of extended practical cognition and knowledge;
“Ten Carbon Copies” defends practical knowledge against a purportedly seminal counterexample;
"Reactive Luck": discusses the significance of luck afflicting us as bearers of reactive attitudes;
✧ "Thought Friends": articulates a puzzle from mutual recognition for the nature of friendship.


I've been teaching & mentoring students for more than a decade now, at the University of London (Birkbeck), Stanford, CUNY (City College), Duke, Duke Kunshan University, & San Quentin State Prison. I've designed & taught courses including individual & group tutorials, introductory lecturesm & advanced seminars, for undergraduates & graduates & advanced high-schoolers. Much of my teaching has been in things Practical Philosophy complementing my research interests (including courses on: Action, Ethics, Political Philosophy, Justice) & related applied issues (e.g. of Global Justice; Public Policy; Emerging Technologies), the history of philosophy (History of Modern Philosophy; Great Books & Core curricula. For my most recent courses, see my DKU teaching rubric.


At DKU I currently advise & mentor students in various capacities (academic; signature work; pre-law; 5 student clubs). Much of my extracurricular attention is on building out Superdeep, DKU's extracurricular philosophical ecosystem.I offer (middle to grad school) advising & mentorship, pro bono, to members of underserved communities, especially ones not currently in or close to academia. If this speaks to you, don't hesitate to reach out.Lastly: if you're reading this you have books at home, including ones you could pass on. Consider sending them to Books Through Bars, where I help find them new homes.

...or address a letter to me at:

昆山杜克大学 | Duke Kunshan University
No. 8 Duke Avenue, Kunshan, Jiangsu, China 215316