Neil Roughley PhEEL

I have been Professor for Philosophical Anthropology and Ethics at Duisburg-Essen University since September 2009, where I am at present Deputy Head of Department. I work primarily on issues in metaethics, philosophical psychology, action theory and the philosophy of human nature.

Since 2018 I have co-organised the biannual workshop series MetaEssen and PhEEL, the first with various colleagues (Nick Laskowski, Hichem Naar, Stefan Mandl, Eleonora Severini, Wooram Lee, Katharina Sodoma and Sam Mason) and the second continuously with Hichem Naar. The workshops involve intense and extended discussions of pre-read texts focussed on one specified issue and provide an extremely fruitful context of detailed constructive debate. They are core structures of my Research Group, in which various larger projects have been based, projects concerning such topics as ethical particularism, automatic action, the place of norms in the human life form, and agential dimensions of emotions. We – particularly Christiana Werner and Katharina Sodoma – have recently been cooperating with the University of Liverpool to carry out a project funded by the German Research Foundation and the British AHRC, How Does it Feel? Interpersonal Understanding and Affective Empathy, a project that combines questions from epistemology, philosophy of mind, emotion theory and ethics.

Prior to Essen

Before accepting the position in Essen, I taught in various capacities at the Universities of Constance, Bielefeld, Zurich, Münster and Essen, including periods as a visiting professor at the latter three universities. Over several years my research was generously funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) and the German Research Foundation (DFG), who supported work on the projects Three Ways of Being For (2000-2003) and Weakness of Will in Practical Reasoning (2003-2005) respectively. In Constance I was a member of the interdisciplinary Centre for Research on Intentions and Intentionality (2001-2005) and the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) on Literature and Anthropology (1996-1999).


Since 2020 I have been Director of the interdisciplinary MA Theory of the Social. I also supervise the Philosophy minor in the MSc Psychology and the Philosophy modules in the Economics MSc Markets and Corporations.

I am generally responsible for the second-term lecture on Metaethics and Normative Ethics, as well as the third-term lecture on Philosophical Anthropology.

Present Courses:

No teaching due to a sabbatical term.




Neil Roughley. Wanting and Intending. Elements of a Philosophy of a Practical Mind. Dordrecht: Springer 2016.

Cover Roughley (2019) The normative animalCover Rückseite Roughley Normative Animal

N. Roughley & K. Bayertz (eds.). The Normative Animal? On the Anthropological Significance of Social, Moral and Linguistic Norms. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2019.

Cover Roughley (2018) Forms of fellow feeling

Cover Rückseite Roughley Forms of Fellow Feeling

N. Roughley & T. Schramme (eds.). Forms of Fellow Feeling. Empathy, Sympathy, Concern and Moral Agency. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2018.

Cover Roughley (2018) Philosophical Psychology 31(5)

N. Roughley (ed.). Special issue of Philosophical Psychology (Vol. 31, Issue 5) on Michael Tomasello's A Natural History of Human Morality, July 2018.


with Julius Schälike (eds.). Wollen. Seine Bedeutung, seine Grenzen. Münster: mentis 2015.


with Thomas Schramme (eds.). On Moral Sentimentalism. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars 2015.

Cover Roughley (2000) Being Humans

Neil Roughley (ed.) Being Humans. Anthropological Universality and Particularity in Transdisciplinary Perspectives. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter 2000.

Further books

  • M. Endress & N. Roughley (eds.). Anthropologie und Moral. Philosophische und soziologische Perspektiven. Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann 2000. (book)

  • A. Barkhaus, M. Mayer, N. Roughley & D. Thürnau (eds.). Identität, Leiblichkeit, Normativität. Neue Horizonte anthropologischen Denkens. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1996. 2nd ed. 1999. (book)

Articles and book chapters

Selected Papers:

Human Nature. In E.N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2021. URL:

Moral Obligation from the Outside In, in N. Roughley, K. Bayertz (eds.), The Normative Animal? On the Anthropological Significance of Social, Moral and Linguistic Norms. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2019, 214-242:

From Shared Intentionality to Moral Obligation? Some Worries, Philosophical Psychology 31/5 (July 2018): 736-754:

The Empathy in Moral Obligation. An Exercise in Creature Construction, in: N. Roughley, T. Schramme (eds.), Forms of Fellow Feeling. Empathy, Sympathy, Concern and Moral Agency, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2018, 265-291:

with M. Kronfeldner and G. Töpfer. Recent Work on Human Nature. Beyond Traditional Essences. Philosophy Compass 9 (2014): 642-652:

Further selected articles and book chapters

Might We Be Essentially Normative Animals? in Roughley and Bayertz 2019, 3-37.

Normative Guidance, Deontic Statuses and the Normative Animal Thesis, in Roughley and Bayertz 2019, 321-337.

Socioecological Pressures, Proximal Psychological Mechanisms and Moral Normativity. Situating Tomasello's Natural History of Human Morality, Philosophical Psychology 31/5 (July 2018): 639-660.

with S. Köhler and H. Sauer. Technologically Blurred Accountability? Technology, Responsibility Gaps and the Robustness of our Everyday Conceptual Scheme, in: C. Ulbert et al. (eds.), Moral Agency and the Politics of Responsibility, London: Routledge 2018, 51-67.

with T. Schramme. Empathy, Sympathy, Concern and Moral Agency, in Roughley and Schramme 2018, 3-55.

with J. Schälike. Zur Bedeutung des Wollens in der Philosophie, in: Roughley and Schälike 2016., 13-39.

On the Objects and Mechanisms of Approval and Disapproval, in: N. Roughley, T. Schramme (eds.), On Moral Sentimentalism. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars 2015, 28-40.

with T. Schramme. Moral Sentimentalism: Context and Critique, in: Roughley and Schramme 2016, 1-18.

Fälle und Narration in der Moralphilosophie, in: L. Aschauer, H. Gruner, T. Gutmann (eds.), Fallgeschichten. Text- und Wissensformen exemplarischer Narrative in der Kultur der Moderne. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann 2015, 253-268.

Über die Gegenstände und Mechanismen von Billigung und Missbilligung, Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung 67 (2013): 615-620.

Human Natures. In S. Schleidgen et al (eds.), Human Nature and Self-Design. Paderborn: Mentis 2011, 13-33.

Willensschwäche und Personsein, in: H. Tegtmeyer, F. Kannetzky (eds.), Personalität, Leipzig: Universitätsverlag: Leipziger Schriften zur Philosophie 18, 2008, 144-61.

Das irrationale Tier, in: W.-J. Cramm, G. Keil (eds.), Der Ort der Vernunft in einer natürlichen Welt. Logische und anthropologische Ortsbestimmungen, Weilerswist: Velbrück 2008, 216-33.

The Claims of States and the Claims of Morality, in: J. Kühnelt (ed.), Political Legitimization without Morality? Dordrecht: Springer 2008, 33-38.

The Double Failure of Double Effect, in: C. Lumer, S. Nannini (eds.), Intentionality, Deliberation and Autonomy, Aldershot: Ashgate 2007, 91-116.

On the Ways and Uses of Intending. Lessons from Velleman's Bratman Critique, in: A. Leist (ed.), Action in Context, Berlin/New York: de Gruyter 2007, 216-30.

Hilberts Krawatte, Ryles Clown und Gehlens Schlüssel. Zur Analyse von Gewohnheitshandlungen. Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 61 (2007): 42-60.

Krankheit, Normativität und medizinische Praxis. Erwägen, Wissen, Ethik 18 (2007): 125-127.

Kann Kunst anästhetisch werden? Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung 59 (2005): 65-83.

Was heißt 'menschliche Natur'? Begriffliche Differenzierungen und normative Ansatzpunkte, in: K. Bayertz (ed.), Die menschliche Natur. Welchen und wieviel Wert hat sie?, Paderborn: Mentis 2005, 133-156.

Naturalism and Expressivism. On the 'Natural' Stuff of Normativity and Problems with its 'Naturalisation', in: P. Schaber (ed.), Normativity and Naturalism, Frankfurt/New York: ontos 2004, 47-85.

Normbegriff und Normbegründung im moralphilosophischen Kontraktualismus, in: A. Leist (ed.), Moral als Vertrag?, Berlin/New York: de Gruyter 2003, 213-243.

The Uses of Hierarchy: Autonomy and Valuing. Philosophical Explorations V (2002): 167-185.

Of Dentistry and Artistry. The Concept and some Contexts of the Aesthetic, in: H. Kotthoff, H. Knoblauch (eds.), Oral Art Across Cultures. The Aesthetics and Proto-Aesthetics of Communication, Tübingen: Narr 2001, 121-135.

On Being Humans In Roughley 2000. 1-21.

World-Openness and the Question of Anthropological Universalism. Comments on Justin Stagl's Paper. In Roughley 2000. 37-44.

Afterword: 'Human Nature'. A Conceptual Matrix. In Roughley 2000. 379-390.

Anthropologie und Moral. Philosophische Perspektiven. In Endress, Roughley 2000. 13-51.