Matthias Haase

Matthias Haase
Assistant Professor
Stuart Hall, Room 226
Office Hours: Winter Quarter, Tuesdays: 4:00 - 6:00 pm
Universität Potsdam PhD (2007)
Teaching at UChicago since 2017
Research Interests: Ethics, Moral Psychology, Philosophy of Action, German Idealism

Matthias Haase is Assistant Professor of Philosophy. He is a scholar in the research project Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life led by Candace Vogler and Jennifer Frey. His research is focused on foundational topics at the intersection of ethics and philosophy of mind. A central historical interest is the tradition of German Idealism, especially the aspects that are tied to Aristotle. He has also written on Wittgenstein and Frege. His current research project is devoted to the question whether there are specifically practical species of knowledge, reason and truth--and what this means for the philosophical account of our fundamental concepts of ethics like good, ought, justice as well as action, character and will.

Haase's previous appointments were at the Philosophisches Seminar at Universitat Basel and Institut fur Philosophie at Universitat Leipzig, with a two-year visiting fellowship at Harvard between them. His graduate studies were conducted at Freie Universitat Berlin, Humboldt Universitat Berlin, and finally Universitat Potsdam, and he spent several years at the University of Pittsburgh as a visiting scholar before completing his doctoral degree.


Selected Publications

“Leben und Anerkennen: Micheal Thompsons Praktischer Naturalismus”, in: Martin Hähnel, Ethischer Naturalismus, Metzler, In Press

“Geist und Gewohnheit: Hegels Begriff der anthropologischen Differenz”, in: Andrea Kern, Christian Kietzmann (ed.), Selbstbewusstes Leben, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt a.M., 2017

“For Oneself and Toward Another: The Puzzle About Recognition”, in: Philosophical Topics, Vol. 42, Issue 1, Spring 2014, (appeared 2015), 113-152.

“Warum man das Allgemeine nicht essen kann”, in: Jens Kertscher, Jan Müller (ed.), Lebensformen und Praxisformen, Mentis, Münster 2015, 289-297.

“Am I You?”, in: Philosophical Explorations, Special Issue, Naomi Eilan (ed.) The You Turn, 17 (3), 2014, 358-371.

“Life and Mind”, in: Thomas Khurana, The Freedom of Life: Hegelian Perspectives, (ed.), August Verlag, Berlin 2013, 69-109.

“Die Wirklichkeit meiner Tat”, Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie, 61/3, 2013, 419-433.

“Three Forms of the First Person Plural”, in: Rethinking Epistemology, (eds.) Günter Abel, James Conant, Walter de Grutyer, Berlin 2012, 229-256.

“The Laws of Thought and the Power of Thinking”, in: Canadian Journal of Philosophy, supplementary volume 35, Belief and Agency, (ed.) David Hunter, 2011, 249-297.

“Drei Formen des Wissens vom Menschen”, in: Natürlich Gut. Aufsätze zur Philosophie Philippa Foots, (eds) Thomas Hoffmann, Michael Reuter, Ontos Verlag, Frankfurt a.M. 2010.


Recent Courses

PHIL 27000 History of Philosophy III: Kant and the 19th Century

The philosophical ideas and methods of Immanuel Kant's "critical" philosophy set off a revolution that reverberated through 19th-century philosophy. We will trace the effects of this revolution and the responses to it, focusing in particular on the changing conception of what philosophical ethics might hope to achieve. We will begin with a consideration of Kant's famous Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, in which the project of grounding all ethical obligations in the very idea of rational freedom is announced. We will then consider Hegel's radicalization of this project in his Philosophy of Right, which seeks to derive from the idea of rational freedom, not just formal constraints on right action, but a determinate, positive conception of what Hegel calls "ethical life". We will conclude with an examination of three great critics of the Kantian/Hegelian project in ethical theory: Karl Marx, Søren Kierkegaard, and Friedrich Nietzsche.

Completion of the general education requirement in humanities.

2018-2019 Spring
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
German Idealism

PHIL 53020 Agency and Action

Human or rational agency is the power to change objects in the world according to one’s conception of what is to be. Accordingly, a philosophical account of human agency requires an investigation of the notions power and change, and the way in which they are specified by idea that the respective exercise of the power to affect change proceeds from a concept or conception of what is to be. According to the Aristotlelian tradition that has been taken up by G.E.M. Anscombe and the recent literature following her, this task can only be accomplished by making space for the idea of a specifically practical species of genus inference and knowledge: a kind of inferring that concludes in action and a kind of knowledge that is productive of its object.

We will study Anscombe’s Intention and recent work on the following topics: What is a causal power? What is a process? What kind of power or capacity is know how or skill such that its exercise is an intentional action? What kind of inference is the practical syllogism such that it concludes in action? What is for knowledge to be practical? And above all: What is the logical grammar of the ‘I do’ and how is it related to the ‘I think’?

We will discuss texts by G.E.M. Anscombe; Maria Alvarez; Donald Davidson; Jonathan Dancy; Jennifer Hornsby; John Hyman; Sebastian Rödl; Kieran Setiya; Michael Thompson; David Velleman et al. (III)


2018-2019 Autumn
Philosophy of Action

PHIL 54260 Recent Ethical Theory

What is the role of the other, the second person, in ethics? The class inquiries into the relation between three aspects of being with others - the normative, the recognitive and the communicative: (1) What we owe to each other, (2) what think and know of each other, and (3) what we say to each other. Obviously, they are interrelated in our lives in intricate ways. But what is the conceptual connection between them? Under the heading of 'bipolar obligations' or 'directed duties', the first has recently received quite a bit of attention. A directed duty is a duty I have to someone. And it is correlated with a right the other has against me. Here, 'right' and 'wrong' take on a relational form: wronging someone or doing right by her. The current debate tends to be focused on the following questions: Can this relational form of normativity be explained in terms of non-relation norms or is it irreducible and basic? And if it is basic, what is the 'source' of this form of normativity? Furthermore: Is the relation of right essentially reciprocal and thus a relation between persons; or can the status 'bearer of rights' be extended to kinds of beings that principally have no duties to me (animals, plants, or perhaps the environment)? Moreover, is having rights really essentially relational such that my status as a bearer of rights, a person, depends on there being others who have duties to me? If so, does understanding myself as a person depend on my knowledge of the actuality of other wills? We will approach these questions by investigating the role that the recognitive and the communicative has to play in a proper account of bipolar obligations. Of course, in human life this kind of normativity is connected with specific kinds of attitudes towards persons - respect, blame and resentment - and specific kinds of speech acts that paradigmatically involve the second person pronoun: consent, protest and demand. But common views suggest a conceptual separation: on the one hand, the idea that sub-rational beings can have rights; on the other hand, the idea that knowledge of the fundamental normative principle must be independent of the actuality of communicative exchange with others. The hypothesis of the class is that such a separation is untenable. A proper account of what we owe to each other must at same time be an account of how we know of each other and how we address one another. One might call this "linguistic idealism" about rights and directed duties. In this way, treatment of the other in ethics requires venturing into philosophy of mind and language: the puzzles about knowledge other wills and the puzzles about the logical grammar of 'you.' (I)

2017-2018 Spring

PHIL 28204/38204 Philosophy of Right: Fichte, Kant, Hegel

We will do a comparative reading of the beginnings of the philosophies of right of Fichte, Kant and Hegel. We will start with Fichte's attempt for a swift deductions of the concept of right from the 'I think' and then look how the introduction of rights is more complicated in the case of Kant and Hegel. (A) (I)

2017-2018 Winter
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
German Idealism

PHIL 29601 Intensive Track Seminar

We will do a close reading of G.E.M. Anscombe's Intention and some of the related essays.

Open only to third-year students who have been admitted to the intensive track program.

2017-2018 Autumn
History of Analytic Philosophy

PHIL 21507/31507 Recognition in Ethics

The seminar investigates the role of interpersonal self-consciousness in ethics. We will begin with the reflection on the bipolar normative nexus of the rights and duties we have toward each other as persons and then inquire into its connection to the capacity to know other minds, the capacity for other forms of non-instrumental concern for others and the capacity for communicative interaction with others. What is the relation between the status of a person, a bearer of rights, the recognition of others as persons and the practice of addressing each other in speech? Readings will include texts by Stanley Cavell, Steven Darwall, Francis Kamm, Christine Korsgaard, Thomas Nagel, Christopher Peacocke and T.M. Scanlon. (I) (III)

2016-2017 Spring

PHIL 51216 Being and Goodness: Varieties of Constitutivism

In contemporary meta-ethics, Constitutivism figures as an alternative to the familiar opposition between Realism and Non-Cognitivism. The fundamental norms to which we are subject in acting are not independent of our agency. Yet they are the objects of knowledge. They are internal to what we are. We will look at the recent debate on how such a view is to be spelled out and whether it provides viable alternative to Realism and Non-Cognitivism. Which characterization of us allows the derivation of substantive normative principles: the abstract concept of an agent or the concrete concept of a human being? What is the logical grammar of the relevant sortal concept? And how does our knowledge of our kind enter into its characterization? Readings will include texts by David Enoch, Christine Korsgaard, David Velleman, Phillippa Foot, Michael Smith, Judy Thompson and Michael Thompson. (I) (III)

2016-2017 Winter