Nicolai Krejberg Knudsen

I'm currently a Carlsberg Junior Research Fellow at Linacre College and an Associate Member of the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Oxford. From September 2022, I'll be Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Aarhus University.

I work primarily on issues in phenomenology, social ontology, and practical philosophy. In general, my work focuses on the relation between human nature and sociality. I try to answer questions like: What enables individuals to constitute a group, and what does this tell us about the fundamental nature of the human being? How is moral agency transformed in communities? Can we ascribe responsibility to groups and not only individuals?

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Current research

I currently work on two projects:

My first research project is on Heidegger’s social ontology. This project aims to rectify the popular conception that Heidegger had nothing substantial to say about human coexistence, let alone anything of lasting value. I do so by (i) reconstructing a coherent account of Heidegger’s social ontology as it appears in his published texts, lecture courses, and notebooks and (ii) showing how Heideggerian insights contribute to ongoing discussions on the nature of social cognition, collective intentionality, and social normativity. My book, Heidegger's Social Ontology: The Phenomenology of Self, World, and Others, is under contract with Cambridge University Press and will appear in 2022.

My second research project develops a phenomenological approach to group responsibility. Broadly speaking, I am interested in the way agency, intersubjectivity, and ethical demands play together in making us morally responsible for doing things that vastly exceed what we can do as individuals. In contrast to those accounts of group responsibility that take their points of departure in a preconceived and robust account of group agency, I take my point of departure in our group-directed moral emotionswhat I, alluding to Strawson, call our group-directed reactive attitudes. To name a few examples, we resent Amazon for mistreating its workers, we are ashamed of our nation’s colonial past, and we are outraged that Neo-Nazis vandalise Jewish graveyards. My suggestion is that a close examination of the phenomenology of these group-directed reactive attitudes—that is, their intentional, intersubjective, and emotional structure—will yield a more exhaustive and detailed account of when it is appropriate to hold a group morally responsible for its actions or inactions. This research is funded by the Carlsberg Foundation (here and here).