Mihnea Capraru

Mihnea Capraru is an assistant professor of philosophy at Nazarbayev University, having received his PhD from Syracuse University in 2015. His research is in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and philosophy of cognitive science, while his teaching interests also encompass logic, metaphysics (including action theory), and general philosophy of science.

Selected Publications

“Note on the individuation of biological traits”
Journal of Philosophy, 115:215–221, 2018

“Objective truth in matters of taste”
Philosophical Studies, 173:1755–1777, 2016

“A counterexample to variabilism”
Analysis, 76:26–29, 2016

“Stained glass as a model for consciousness”
Philosophical Explorations, 18:90–103, 2015

“A new source of data about singular thought”
Philosophia, 41:1159–1172, 2013

Courses taught at Nazarbayev University

  • PHIL 360 Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence
  • PHIL 342 Philosophy of Biology
  • PHIL 240 Formal Logic
  • PHIL 223 Philosophy of Science
  • PHIL 124 Knowledge and Reality

Other websites

Sydney Morrow

Sydney Morrow received her Ph.D. from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in Spring 2018. Her dissertation is titled “A Comparative Study of ‘Existential Destitution’ in Pre-Qin Chinese Philosophy and Karl Jaspers in the Context of Homelessness in Hawaiʻi”. In it, she uses a comparative approach to formulate a methodology and application of place-based philosophy. Drawing from resources in classical and modern Chinese philosophy, she draws out themes related to hardship, dire circumstances, and personal cultivation in the face of each. She believes that philosophy ought to be concerned with contemporary problems, and that analysis of these pressing issues is best done in contextualized and localized ways.

Her research interests include Pre-Qin and Han Chinese Philosophy, 20th Century Chinese Philosophy, 20th Century European Existentialism, Environmental and Agricultural Ethics, Applied and Place-based Philosophy, Comparative and Cross-Cultural Philosophy, and Homelessness Studies.

Her current writing projects include:

  • “Engaging Fei Xiaotong’s Societal Inclusivity in an Age of Isolationism”
  • “Penniless but not Poor: Forming a Theory of Existential Poverty Using Resources from Classical Chinese Philosophy and Simone Weil”
  • “Exhausting Future Possibilities: The Liberated Philosophy of Jin Yuelin and Engagement in Preferred Futures”

Teaching Interests include Daoism, Confucianism, Chinese Philosophies of War, and the Philosophical Roots of Martial Arts Practice.

Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen

Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen is a philosopher of science, logic, language and human thought. He moved to Astana from Helsinki, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia, where he was professor of philosophy and professor of semiotics for a number of years. He has also had visiting positions at universities in China and Korea.

Ahti’s research interests span from scientific method to human mind and their histories. Methods of philosophy and analysis can help us discover new and unforeseen aspects of how we reason, how the world works, and what makes everything to be the way it is. These methods themselves have to be discovered and developed. That is where the stuff we call logic comes in.

C. S. Peirce once wrote that “The world hates sound reasoning as a child hates medicine” (1910). There is still much work to be done to have the world reason in a good way.­­ This task is shared by science, philosophy, and liberal arts education at all levels. And it is the task Ahti is committed to.

Currently he is completing a large edition on Peirce’s unpublished writings on his theory of existential graphs (Logic of the Future).

Recent Publications

(with D. Chiffi) Assertive and Existential Graphs: A Comparison, in Diagrammatic Representation and Inference, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Springer, in press.

(with Ma M.) A Weakening of Alpha Graphs: Quasi-Boolean Algebras, in Diagrammatic Representation and Inference, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Springer, in press.

(with D. Chiffi) Abductive Inference within a Pragmatic Framework, Synthese, in press.

(with Ma M.) A Graphical Calculus for Intuitionistic Logic, Logique & Analyse, in press.

Ma, M. & Pietarinen, A.-V. (in press). Let us investigate! Dynamic Conjecture-Making as the Formal Logic of Abduction, Journal of Philosophical Logic, in press.

Bellucci, F., Moktefi, A., and Pietarinen, A.-V. (in press). Simplex sigillum veri: Peano, Frege, and Peirce on the Primitives of Logic, History and Philosophy of Logic, in press.

Pietarinen, A.-V. & Bellucci, F. (in press). Assertion and Denial: A Contribution from Logical NotationsJournal of Applied Logics, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jal.2017.01.001.

Ma, M. & Pietarinen, A.-V. (in press). Gamma Graph Calculi for Modal Logics, Synthese. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-017-1390-3.

Chiffi, D. & Pietarinen, A.-V. (in press). Fundamental Uncertainty and Values, Philosophia, in press. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11406-017-9865-5

Ma, M. & Pietarinen, A.-V. (2017). Proof Analysis of Peirce’s Alpha System of Graphs, Studia Logica 105(3), 625-647. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11225-016-9703-y

Pietarinen, A.-V. (2017). Is There a General Diagram Concept?, in S. Krämer & C. Ljundberg (eds.), Thinking with Diagrams: The Semiotic Basis of Human Cognition, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 121-138.

Ma, M. & Pietarinen, A.-V. (2017). Graphical Sequent Calculi for Modal Logics, The 9th Workshop on Methods for ModalitiesElectronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science 243, 91-103.

Ma, M. & Pietarinen, A.-V. (2017). Peirce’s Sequent Proofs of Distributivity, Logic and Its Applications: 7th Indian ConferenceLecture Notes in Computer Science 10119, Springer, 168-182.

Bellucci, F. & Pietarinen, A.-V. (2016). From Mitchell to Carus: Fourteen Years of Logical Graphs in the Making, Transactions of the Charles  S. Peirce Society 52(4), 539-575. DOI: 10.2979/trancharpeirsoc.52.4.02

Pietarinen, A.-V. (2016). Extensions of Euler Diagrams in Peirce’s Four Manuscripts on Logical Graphs, in Jamnik, M. et al. (eds.), Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence 9781, 139-154.

Pietarinen, A.-V. & Bellucci, F. (2016). Two Dogmas of Diagrammatic Reasoning: A View from Existential Graphs, in K. Hull & R. Atkins (eds.), Peirce on Perception and Reasoning: From Icons to Logic, Routledge, 174-195.

Bellucci, F. & Pietarinen, A.-V. (2016). Existential Graphs as an Instrument for Logical Analysis. Part 1: Alpha, Review of Symbolic Logic 9, 209-237.

Pietarinen, A.-V. (2016). Answers to Philosophy of Logic: 5 Questions, in Lupher, T. & Adajian, T. (eds.), Philosophy of Logic: 5 Questions, Automatic Press/VIP, 139-152.

Moktefi, A. & Pietarinen, A.-V. (2016). On the Diagrammatic Representation of Existential Statements with Venn and Euler Diagrams, Journal of Logic, Language, and Information 24, 361-374.

Pietarinen, A.-V. & Bellucci, F. (2016). H. Paul Grice’s Lecture Notes on Charles S. Peirce’s Theory of SignsInternational Review of Pragmatics 8(1), 82-129.

Pietarinen, A.-V. (2016). Exploring the Beta Quadrant, Synthese 192, 941-970. DOI 10.1007/s11229-015-0677-5.

Shane Ryan

I was awarded my PhD from the University of Edinburgh. My PhD thesis concerns the nature and value of knowledge and the epistemic environment. The thesis was supervised by Professor Duncan Pritchard FRSE and Professor Jesper Kallestrup and examined by Professor John Greco.

The concern of my research is the conduciveness of our physical and social environment to our attainment of valuable epistemic goods such as intellectual virtues, knowledge, and wisdom. My purpose is not only to make assessments of that environment, our epistemic environment, but rather to propose ways in which our epistemic environment might be protected and improved. I call this epistemic environmentalism. Recent political and cultural developments, such as the increased consciousness of fake news and its negative effects on political discourse, seem to underscore the importance of this project.

My project grew out of recent work on the value of knowledge, often regarded by epistemologists as an especially valuable epistemic good. My own research on the topic, “Why Knowledge is Special”, was published in Philosophy in the first half of 2017. The paper examines the presentation of the topic by Socrates in the Meno and considers Greco’s virtue epistemological approach before making the case for my own approach. My approach emphasises the value of goods, like knowledge, for which virtue is necessary but not sufficient.

While having an account of the value of knowledge, as well as other epistemic goods, is important for epistemic environmentalism, because of the applied nature of the project, the project is not purely epistemological. It is necessary to make the case for the appropriateness of actors like the state playing a role in the epistemic environment. This has led me to undertake research into justificatory frameworks for the sort of interventions that the epistemic environmentalist may envisage for the sake of a good epistemic environment. In particular I have focused my attention on paternalism. This focus has resulted in the publication of two articles in leading philosophical journals in two years. “Paternalism: An Analysis” in Utilitas provides an analysis of the paternalist act, while “Libertarian Paternalism is Hard Paternalism” in Analysis builds on that analysis to make the case that libertarian paternalism or nudging, recently popular with policy makers, is in fact a form of hard paternalism. My paper also proposes a reformed libertarian paternalism that wouldn’t qualify as hard paternalism and would so avoid the criticisms hard paternalism faces.

At the end of 2017 my paper “Epistemic Environmentalism”, which provides an account of my applied epistemological framework, was accepted for publication by the Journal of Philosophical Research. This paper examines the nature of the epistemic environment and the role epistemic value theory and social epistemology play in informing and motivating epistemic environmentalism. “Epistemic Environmentalism” also considers a form of state supported sanction against dishonest testifiers occupying positions of sensitivity, such as media and experts, in the epistemic environment. In the last year, I’ve presented different aspects of epistemic environmentalism at the Trust, Expert Opinion and Policy Conference at University College Dublin and at the Budapest Workshop on Philosophy of Technology at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. In the next year I aim to complete a draft of my book on Epistemic Environmentalism.

Selected Publications

“Libertarian Paternalism is Hard Paternalism”, Analysis, forthcoming.

“Trust”, in Think, forthcoming.

“Why Knowledge is Special”, in Philosophy, 92(2), 249-269, 2017.

“Paternalism: An Analysis”, in Utilitas 28(02), 123-135, 2016.

“Wisdom: Understanding and the Good Life”, in Acta Analytica 31(3), 235-251, 2016.

“Real-Time Democracy”, in The International Journal of Applied Philosophy, 30(2), 301-312, 2016.

“Reflection as a Master Virtue”, co-authored with Chienkuo Mi, for a special issue of Synthese. (Published on journal website in 2016. Not yet available in print).

“Standard Gettier Cases: A Problem for Greco?”, in Grazer Philosophische Studien, vol. 90, 201-212, 2014.

“A Humean Account of Testimonial Justification”, in Logos and Episteme, vol. 5 (2), 209-219, 2014.

“Zagzebski on Rationality”, co-authored with Duncan Pritchard, European Journal for Philosophy of Religion (invited symposium on Zagzebski’s Epistemic Authority), 6, 39-46, 2014.


  • PHIL 325 Truth, Lies, Media, and Propaganda
  • PHIL 220 Truth, Knowledge, and Belief
  • PHIL 215 Bioethics
  • PHIL 110 The Good Life in Practice

Siegfried Van Duffel

Siegfried Van Duffel was trained as a philosopher and completed a Ph.D. in law at Ghent University (Belgium). Before coming to Nazarbayev University, he taught ethics and Political Theory at the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) and the University of Hong Kong. He also held post-doc positions at the National University of Singapore and the Center of Excellence in Philosophical Psychology, Morality and Politics of the University of Helsinki and was visiting associate professor at Huafan University and National Taiwan University.

Siegfried’s main research interest is cultural differences, which is why he felt it necessary to leave Europe and continue living and working in a non-Western society. His current project is to complete a book on human rights and cultural differences. The aim of this book is to describe human rights theories as an aspect of the culture in which they were developed. He also hopes to do comparative empirical research on intuitions related to human rights. His work was published in international peer-reviewed journals such as The Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, The Journal of Political Philosophy, The Monist, and The European Journal of Philosophy.

Selected Publications

“Adequacy Constraints for a Theory of the Nature of Rights.” In Mark McBridge (ed.), New Essays on the Nature of Rights. Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2017.

“Human Rights.” In Andrew Fiala (ed.), The Bloomsbury Companion to Political Philosophy, pp. 641-664. London: Bloomsbury, 2015.

“Conciliarism.” In Michael T. Gibbons, et al. (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Political Thought. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014.

“Natural Rights to Welfare.” European Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 21(4), 2013, pp. 641-664.

“Moral Philosophy.” In Dinah Shelton (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Human Rights Law, pp. 32-53. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013

“In Defence of the Will Theory of Rights.” Res Publica, Vol. 18, Issue 4 (2012), pp. 321–331.

“The Nature of Rights Debate Rests on a Mistake.” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 93, Issue 2 (2012), pp. 104-123. • Reprint in Horacio Spector and Brian Bix (eds), Rights: Concepts and Contexts. Ashgate, 2012.

“Distributive Justice Before the Eighteenth Century.” History of Political Thought Vol. 32, Issue 3 (2011), pp. 449-64. (with Dennis Yap)

“From Objective Right to Subjective Rights: The Franciscans and the Will and Interest Conceptions of Rights.” In Virpi Mäkinen (ed), The Nature of Rights: Moral and Political Aspects of Right(s) in Late-Medieval and Early-Modern Philosophy, pp. 65-93. Acta Philosophica Fennica, 2010.

“The Dependence of Libertarianism on the Notion of Sovereignty.” Critical Review Vol. 21, Issue 1. (2009) pp. 117-124.

“Een kritische inleiding tot libertarisme.” Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte Vol. 99 Issue 1. (2007), pp. 53-66.  [in Dutch]

“Sovereignty as a Religious Concept.” The Monist Vol. 91, Issue 1. (2007) pp. 126-143.

“Natural Rights and Individual Sovereignty.” Journal of Political Philosophy Vol. 12, Issue 2 (June 2004), pp. 147-162.

“Libertarian Natural Rights.” Critical Review Vol. 16, Issue 4 (winter 2004), pp. 353-375.

“How to Study Human Rights and Culture (Without Becoming a Relativist).” Philosophy in the Contemporary World Vol. 11, Issue 2 (autumn-winter 2004), pp. 1-6.

“A Plea for Theory in Rethinking Human Rights.” International Legal Theory Vol. 9, Issue 1 (Fall 2003), pp. 135 165.


Siegfried has comprehensive experience in teaching political theory, (including the history of western political thought) and ethics (normative and applied ethics, as well as the history of ethics). He has also taught comparative science of religion, post-colonial studies. His other teaching interests are cultural psychology, philosophy of action, and comparative science of cultures.

List of Courses Taught at NU

  • Ethics
  • Global Justice
  • Human Rights and Cultural Differences
  • Social Contract Theory (Hobbes to Kant)
  • Introduction to Political Theory
  • Freshman seminar

John N. Williams

John Williams will join Nazarbayev University in August 2018 as Professor of Philosophy. He received his PhD from Hull University under Alan R. White. He also has an M.Sc. in Knowledge-Based Systems from the School of Cognitive Sciences at Sussex University.

He was Head of the Unit of Philosophy at the University of the West Indies and also worked in the Department of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore and as Associate Professor in Philosophy in the School of Social Sciences at Singapore Management University.

John’s research interests include epistemology, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, ethics and applied ethics

He has published numerous articles in international philosophical journals including Mind, Analysis, the Journal of Philosophy, the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Synthese, Philosophical Studies, Acta Analytica, Philosophia, Philosophy East and West, American Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophy, Philosophy Compass, the Journal of Philosophical Research, Religious Studies, Theoria, Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective and Logos and Episteme. He has also published a co-edited volume with Oxford University Press, five co-authored books on Critical Thinking and four book chapters. At present John is working on the second draft of a single-authored book called A Unified Treatment of Moore’s Paradox: Belief, Knowledge, Assertion and Rationality, under contract with Oxford University Press.

Some Recent Publications

Three Proofs of God’s Non-Existence,” forthcoming in Natural Religion in The European Legacy.

Moore’s Paradox for God”, Philosophia, doi: 10.1007/s11406-017-9943-8, 2018.

Assertion and its Many Norms”, Manuscrito, 40(4), 39-76, 2017.

Still Stuck on the Backward Clock: A Rejoinder to Clarke, Adams and Barker”, Logos and Episteme, 8(2), 243-269, 2017.

Valuable Asymmetrical Friendships”, co-authored with T. Brian Mooney, Philosophy, 92(1), 1-27, 2016.

There’s Nothing to Beat a Backward Clock: A Rejoinder to Adams, Barker and Clarke”, Logos and Episteme, 7(3). 363-378, 2016.

Still a New Problem for Defeasibility: A Rejoinder to Borges”, Logos and Episteme, 7(1), 83-94. 2016.

The Backward Clock, Truth-Tracking, and Safety”, co-authored with Neil Sinhababu, Journal of Philosophy, 112(1), 46-55, 2015.

Not Knowing You Know: A New Objection to the Defeasibility Theory of Knowledge”, Analysis, 75(2), 213–217, 2015.

Moore’s Paradox in Speech: A Critical Survey”, Philosophy Compass, 10(1), 10-23, 2015.

Moore’s Paradox in Thought: A Critical Survey”, Philosophy Compass, 10 (1), 24-37, 2015.

Eliminativism, Dialetheism and Moore’s Paradox”, Theoria 81(1), 27-47, 2015.


  • Critical Thinking
  • Paradoxes
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Knowledge and Reality