Haugeland was born in Harrisburg, Illinois in 1945. He began his academic career at Harvey Mudd College, where he earned a B.A. in Physics, with honors, in 1966. After serving two years in the Peace Corps in Tonga, he earned a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley, completing his dissertation, entitled Truth and Understanding, under the supervision of Hans Sluga in 1976.
Haugeland taught at the University of Pittsburgh from 1974 until 1999, earning the rank of full professor in 1986. In 1999, he was appointed professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago. From July, 2004 until June, 2007, he served as chair of the department. He was appointed the David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor of Philosophy in 2006.
Over the course of his career, Haugeland published a number of seminally important works, including:
Haugeland is survived by his wife Joan Wellman, sisters Cyndi Munch and Carol Magnuson, son John Christian Haugeland III, and stepdaughters Jennifer Swain and Emma Wellman.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent for the John Haugeland Undergraduate Fund, to the University of Chicago Philosophy Department, Stuart 202, 1115 E. 58th St, Chicago, IL, 60637.