Martin Gustafsson

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Research interests

My main research areas are the philosophy of language and the philosophy of action. I am particularly interested in how they hang together -- the ways in which language and action intermingle and are embedded in the wider circumstances of human life. My way of thinking about these issues has been deeply influenced by the works of Elizabeth Anscombe, Stanley Cavell and Ludwig Wittgenstein. My research areas also include the history of analytic philosophy, philosophy of logic, philosophical methodology and the philosophy of the human sciences. I have led research projects on the contemporary significance of ordinary language philosophy (Academy of Finland 2013-2017), the problems involved in describing actions in terms unknown to the agent (The Swedish Central Bank's Tercentenary Foundation 2008-2011) and on Quine's and Wittgenstein's conception of the relation between philosophy and science (the Swedish Research Council 2001-2004). Together with Lars Hertzberg, I have translated Wittgenstein's Philosophische Untersuchungen into Swedish. In 2022, the translation was awarded the Letterstedt translation award from the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences. I am currently working on two book projects: one on the paradox of analysis in analytic philosophy, the other on the essential role of passivity in human action and the significance of taking a break.


I am professor and chair of philosophy at Åbo Akademi University since 2010. I took my PhD at Uppsala University. Before I moved to ÅAU, I did post-doc research at the University of Chicago (2000-2001), Uppsala University (2001-2005) and Stockholm University (2005-2010). Since 2017, I am head of the BA program in "Culture, History and Philosophy".


I enjoy teaching at all levels, from the introduction course to courses aimed at graduate and post-graduate students. I regularly teach epistemology, logic, and the history of analytic philosophy. I also enjoy inter-disciplinary teaching -- for example, I have done broadly accessible courses in artificial intelligence and on privacy and surveillance. My teaching at higher levels include courses in the philosophy of language, the philosophy of action, Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, Frege's The Foundations of Arithmetic, and Quine's Word and Object. I organize the MA thesis seminar and the weekly higher research seminar in philosophy. I am currently the main supervisor of six PhD students.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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