UCL Philosophy


Prof Nick Zangwill

Honorary Research Fellow

Photo of Nick Zangwill

I am philosopher and I work mostly on meta-normative issues, especially in moral philosophy and aesthetics, but I also work in epistemology, metaphysics and other areas of philosophy.
I have written three monographs, edited two collections and published more than 150 articles.
I have worked at the universities of Glasgow, Oxford, Durham and Hull, and, with visiting positions at the universities of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Ritsumeikan (Kyoto), Huazhong School of Science and Technology (Wuhan), Sao Paulo, UNICAMP (Campinas), Unitec (Auckland) Padua, Rome, Warsaw, Lublin, Belgrade, the Institute of Fundamental Sciences in Tehran, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Haifa, and in the USA, Brown, Ohio State and Tulane.
My last undergraduate lectures were on: (1) Moral Philosophy; (2) Descartes, Hume and Kant; (3) Twentieth Century Philosophy of Language and Metaphysics; and (4) Aesthetics.
I am an Honorary Research Fellow in the Philosophy Department, University College London.

I can be contacted by email at zangwillnick@gmail.com.
You can find downloadable papers at academia.edu and researchgate.net

List of Publications


The Metaphysics of Beauty, Cornell University Press, 2001. 

I investigate the nature of aesthetic properties and their relation to other properties. The book is in three parts: first, I examine and defend the view that aesthetic properties depend on other properties; second, I consider the scope of that dependence, in particular, defend a moderate version of formalism; and third, I consider the realism issue about aesthetic properties.
Italian translation, La Metafisica Della Bellezza, Edizioni Marinotti Press, 2011.

Aesthetic Creation, Oxford University Press, 2007. Paperback 2012.

I expound and defend an account of art that appeals to aesthetic properties. I consider the question of what we should aim for in constructing a theory of art. I argue for a rational explanatory criterion of adequacy and against the currently appeals to extension or analysis. In the light of the rational explanatory criteria of adequacy, I describe and motivate a ‘creative theory’ of art, and I defend it against the threat of counterexamples, and explore and its metaphysical consequences. I also critique rival theories in the light of the overall rationale for assessing competing theories of art.

Scruton’s Aesthetics.

Edited volume (with Andy Hamilton), Palgrave-Macmillan, 2012.

Music and Aesthetic Reality. Routledge, 2015. Paperback 2017.

I defend a formalist and realist view of music, dispose of emotion theories, and develop the ineffabilist implications of musical experience and description. I engage with musicology and the psychology of music.

Essence and Context: Between Music and Philosophy.

Edited volume (with Rima Povilioniene and Rūta Stanevičiūtė), Springer-Palgrave-Macmillan, 2019.


Here is an interview in Spanish and then English (further down)

And here is another interview, translated into French.


These are in refereed journals and edited books.
I group the papers into three categories:
(1) metaphysics, epistemology and mind; (2) moral philosophy; and (3) aesthetics.
I have omitted a number of brief companion entries, discussions or comments.
20 have been translated into 11 languages: Portuguese (4), Chinese (4), Persian (2), Japanese (2), Italian (2), Polish (2), Korean (2), French, German, Spanish and Lithuanian. 6 have been anthologised.

Metaphysics, Epistemology and Philosophy of Mind

(26) “Categorial Vs. Naturalized Epistemology”, Analytic Philosophy, 2025.
(25) “Categories, Naturalism and Materialism”, Naturalism and its Challenges, eds. Ali Hossein Khani and Gary Kemp, New York: Routledge, 2025.
(24) “Logic, Stipulation and the Mushroom Omelette Problem”, Logique et Analyse, 2021.
(23) “The Philosophical Interpretation of Language Game Theory”, Journal of Language Evolution, 2021.
(22) “Epistemic Pluralism: The Missing Link and the Ambitions of Epistemology”, Metaphilosophy, 2020.
(21) “Epistemic/Non-epistemic Dependence”, Nous, 2018.
(20) “Rules and Privacy: Remarks on Philosophical Investigations, 202”, in Proceedings of the 38. International Ludwig Wittgenstein Symposium, Kirchberg am Wechsel, Austria, Publications of the Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society, 2017.
• Chinese translation in German Philosophy (Wuhan), 2017.
(19) “Self-belief and Agency”, Journal of Mind and Behavior, 2017.
(18) “Skepticism about Skepticism”, Philosophy, 2016.
(17) “Logic as Metaphysics”, Journal of Philosophy, 2015.
• Chinese translation forthcoming in Fudan Journal (Social Sciences Edition), 2018.
(16) “Knowledge and Truth”, Acta Analytica, 2013.
(15) “Knowledge I Exist A Priori”, Analytic Philosophy 2013.
(14) “Mind, Brain, Essence and Explanation”, in Miroslaw Szatkowski (ed.), Dualistic Ontology of Human Persons, Philosophia Verlag, 2013.
(13) “Constitution and Causation”, Metaphysica, 2012.
(12) “Love⎯Gloriously Amoral and Arational”, Philosophical Explorations, 2013.
(11) “Negative Properties”, Nous, 2011.
• Earlier version translated in part into Japanese, in Tetsugaku-Zasshi, 2008.
(10) “Normativity and the Metaphysics of Mind”, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 2010.
(9) "Daydreams and Anarchy in the Philosophy of Mind", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 2006.
(8) “The Normativity of the Mental”, Philosophical Explorations, 2005.
(7) “The Myth of Religious Experience”, Religious Studies, 2004.
(6) “Negative Properties, Determination and Conditionals”, Topoi, special issue on existence and causal powers, 2003.
(5) "Direction of Fit and Normative Functionalism", Philosophical Studies, 1998
(4) "Good Old Supervenience: Mental Causation on the Cheap", Synthese, 1996.
(3) "Supervenience and Anomalous Monism", Philosophical Studies, 1993.
(2) "Variable Realization: Not Proved", Philosophical Quarterly, 1992.
(1) "Quietism", Midwest Studies in Philosophy, vol. 17, The Wittgenstein Legacy, (eds.) French, P., Uehling,T., and Wettstein, H., University of Notre Dame Press, 1992.

Moral Philosophy

(30) “God So What?: The Significance of God’ Existence or Nonexistence”, Faith and Philosophy, 2025.
(29) “Harari on Human Rights and Biology”, Think, 2024.
(28) “Expressivism, Inferentialism and the Simulation Game”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 2022.
(27) “Neoplatonist Theology and God’s Relevance”, European Journal of Philosophy of Religion, 2022.
(26) “Our Moral Duty to Eat Meat”, Journal of the American Philosophical Association, 2021.
(25) “Brutalist Non-naturalism and Hume’s Principle”, Dialectica, 2019.
(24) “Moral Dependence and Natural Properties”, Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume, 2017.
(23) “Motivational Externalism: Formulation, Methodology, Rationality and Indifference”, in Motivational Internalism, edited by Gunnar Bjornson et al. Oxford University Press, 2015.
• Persian translation forthoming.
(22) “Moral Metaphor and Thick Concepts: What Moral Philosophy Can Learn from Aesthetics”, Thick Concepts, edited by Simon Kirchin, Oxford University Press, 2013.
(21) “A Way Out of the Euthyphro Dilemma”, Religious Studies, 2012.
• Portuguese translation in Revista Brasileira de Filosofia da Religião 2014.
(20) “Rationality and Moral Realism”, Ratio 2012.
(19) “Cordelia’s Bond and Indirect Consequentialism”, Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, 1, 2011.
(18) “An Argument for Normative Cognitivism”, Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung, 2011.
(17) “Fashion, Illusion and Alienation”, in Jennette Kennette and Jessica Wolfendale (eds.), Fashion and Philosophy, Oxford: Blackwell, 2011.
(16) “Science and Ethics: Demarcation, Holism and Logical Consequences", European Journal of Philosophy, 2010.
(15) “Moral Dependence”, Oxford Studies in Metaethics, 3, 2008.
(14) “The Indifference Argument”, Philosophical Studies, March 2008.
(13) “Non-cognitivism and Variable Motivation”, in Constantine Sandis (ed.) New Essays on Action Explanation, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.
(12) “Moral Epistemology and the Because Constraint”, in Contemporary Debates in Moral Theory, (ed.) Jamie Dreier, Blackwell, 2006.
(11) “Moore, Morality, Supervenience, Essence, Epistemology", American Philosophical Quarterly, 2005.
(10) “Externalist Moral Motivation”, American Philosophical Quarterly, 2003.
• Anthologized in Russ Shaffer-Landau and Terrence Cuneo (ed.) Foundations of Morality, Oxford: Blackwell, 2006 edition.
• Chinese translation forthcoming.
(9) "Perpetrator Motivation: Some Reflections on the Browning/Goldhagen Debate", in Eve Garrard and Geoffrey Scarre (eds.), Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust, Ashgate Press, 2003.
• Translation into Japanese in The Journal of Applied Ethics and Philosophy vol. 3. (ISSN 1347-3123), 2007.
(8) “Against Moral Response-Dependence”, Erkenntnis, 2001. (Also reappeared in 2003 in the same journal.)
(7) "Against Analytic Moral Functionalism", Ratio, 2000.
(6) "Moral Dilemmas and Realism", Utilitas, 1999.
(5) "Moral Supervenience", Midwest Studies, vol. 20, Moral Concepts (eds.) French, P., Uehling, T., and Wettstein, H., University of Notre Dame Press, 1996.
• Anthologized in Jaegwon Kim (ed.), Supervenience: International Research Library of Philosophy, Ashford, Dartmouth Publishing Company, 2002.
• Anthologized in Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.) Metaethics: Critical Concepts in Philosophy, Routledge 2008.
(4) "Moral Mind-independence", Australian Journal of Philosophy, 1994.
(3) "Quasi-realist Explanation", Synthese, 1993.
(2) "Moral Modus Ponens", Ratio, 1992.
(1) "Quasi-quasi-realism", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1990.


(47) “Formalism in the Aesthetics of Nature”, (ed.) Routledge Handbook of Environmental Aesthetics, (ed.) Glenn Parsons, Routledge, 2025.
(46) “Music, Feeling and Musical Listening: Themes from Chapters 4 and 5 of Hanslick’s On the Musically Beautiful”, in Hanslick and His Legacy, (ed.) Christoph Landerer and Lee Rothfarb, London: Routledge, 2025.
(45) “Kant on Intellectual and Empirical Interest in Beauty”, Journal of the Philosophy of Emotion, 2024.
(44) “Understanding Religious Music: A Smorgasbord”, Religions, 2024. (43) “Disinterestedness: Analysis and Partial Defence”, in Disinterested Pleasure and Beauty: Perspectives from Kantian and Contemporary Aesthetics (ed.) Larissa Berger, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2023.
(42) “Kant on Pleasure in the Good”, Disputatio 2022.
(41) “Musical Beauty”, in Oxford Handbook of Music and Philosophy (eds.) McAuley and Neilsen, OUP 2021. 13000 words in total. Jointly written with Stephen Hinton.
(40) “Hanslick on Non-absolute Music”, in Hanslick and his Context, eds. Christoph Lander and Alexander Wilfing, Surkamp Press, 2019.
(39) “Folk Aesthetics and Normativity: A Critique of Experimental Aesthetics”, in Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Art, (eds.) Florian Cova and Sebastien Renault, London: Bloomsbury, 2019.
(38) “Music, Essence and Context”, in Essence and Context, (eds.) Rima Povilioniene, Rūta Stanevičiūtė and Nick Zangwill), Springer-Palgrave-Macmillan, 2019.
(37) “The Yummy and the Yucky”, Monist 2018.
(36) “Hotel Painting and the Function of Art”, The Monist, 2018.
(35) “Contemplating Musical Essence, Critical Notice of Mark Evan Bonds Absolute Music: The History of an Idea”, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 2016. Jointly written with Christoph Landerer.
(34) “Hanslick’s Deleted Ending” part of a symposium on Mark Evan Bonds Absolute Music: The History of an Idea, British Journal of Aesthetics, 2017. Jointly written with Christoph Landerer.
(33) “Friends Reunited: Susan McClary and Musical Formalism”, Musical Times, 2014. (Reprinted in Music and Aesthetic Reality.)
• Lithuanian translation forthoming in Kulturos Barai.
(32) “Music, Metaphor and Aesthetic Concepts”, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 2014. (Reprinted in Music and Aesthetic Reality.)
• Portuguese translation in Revista Música 2017.
(31) “Metaphor as Appropriation”, Philosophy and Literature, 2014. (Reprinted in Music and Aesthetic Reality.)
(30) “Clouds of Illusion in the Aesthetics of Nature”, Philosophical Quarterly, 2013.
• Chinese translation by Guifang Deng, Min Xu, in 认知科学(Cognitive Science) vol. 4, 2020, pp. 73-86.
(29) “Nietzsche on Kant on Disinterestedness”, History of Philosophy Quarterly, 2013.
(28) “Music, Autism and Emotion”, Frontiers in Psychology; Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 2013. (Reprinted with minor revisions in Music and Aesthetic Reality.)
(27) “Listening to Music Together”, British Journal of Aesthetics, 2012. (Reprinted in Music and Aesthetic Reality.)
(26) Text for Keith Coventry’s ‘Deontological Pictures’ exhibition in PEER gallery, 2012.
Podcast available online: http://www.peeruk.org/projects/coventry/Value_Talk.mp3.
Published as the book Deontological Pictures, Text by Nick Zangwill and an interview with the artist & Michael Bracewell, Ridinghouse 2012 and PEER.
• Reprinted in a volume on the work of Keith Coventry, by Hatie Cantz, Germany, in association with PACE gallery, London, 2018.
(25) “Music, Essential Metaphor and Private Language”, American Philosophical Quarterly, 2011. (Reprinted in Music and Aesthetic Reality.)
(24) Replies to six critics in special issue of Sztuka i Filozofia on my work, 2009.
“Reply to Daniel Nathan on the Nature of Art”
“Reply to Raf DeClercq on the Nature of Art”
“Reply to Robert Stecker on the Nature of Art”
“Reply to Gary Iseminger on Art and Experience”
“Reply to Stephen Barker on Mathematical Beauty”
“Reply to Larry Shiner on Architecture”
(23) “Music and Mysticism”, in Research Journal of the Iranian Academy of Arts, Pazhoheshnameh 12, 2009. (Reprinted in Music and Aesthetic Reality.)
• Persian translation in the same volume.
(22) “Music, Emotion and Metaphor”, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 2007. (Reprinted in Music and Aesthetic Reality.)
• Italian translation in La Musica e le Emozione (ed.) Domeneca Lentini, Mimesis 2014.
• Portuguese translation at: http://criticanarede.com/
(21) “Against Emotion: Hanslick was Right about Music”, British Journal of Aesthetics, 2004. (Reprinted with revisions in Music and Aesthetic Reality.)
• Portuguese translation online. (details to be supplied.)
(20) "Beauty" in Oxford Companion to Aesthetics, Jerrold Levinson (ed.), Oxford University Press, 2003. (9000 words)
• Translated into Polish by Ewa Bogusz-Boltuc, published in Sztuka I Filozophia, 2007.
• Translated into Korean, in 출한사, 2013.
• Anthologized in Aesthetic Theory: Essential Texts for Architecture and Design, edited by Mark Foster Gage, Norton: New York, 2011.
(19) "Aesthetic Realism", in Oxford Companion to Aesthetics, Jerrold Levinson (ed.), Oxford University Press, 2003. (8500 words.) (Reprinted with revisions in Music and Aesthetic Reality.)
• Translated into Korean, in 출한사, 2013.
• Part of this anthologized in a volume forthcoming on Hume’s Standard of Taste, ed. Babette Babich.
(18) "Are There Counterexamples to Aesthetic Theories of Art?", Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 2002. (Reprinted with substantial revisions in Aesthetic Creation.)
(17) "Against the Sociology of Art?", Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 2002. (Reprinted in Aesthetic Creation.)
• Anthologized in Marta Herrero and David Inglis (eds.), Art and Aesthetics, London: Routledge, 2008. (They never asked me!)
(16) “Aesthetic Judgment”, in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on-line, 2002. This is accessible at: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aesthetic-judgment/ Revised in 2006, 2014 and 2019 (9000 words).
(15) "Formal Natural Beauty", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 2001. (Reprinted in the Metaphysics of Beauty.)
(14) "Aesthetic Functionalism", in Aesthetic Concepts: Sibley and After, Emily Brady and Jerrold Levinson (eds.), Oxford University Press, 2001. (Reprinted in Aesthetic Creation.)
(13) "Skin-Deep or In the Eye of the Beholder: The Metaphysics of Aesthetic and Sensory Properties", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 2000. (Reprinted in the Metaphysics of Beauty.)
• Anthologized in James O. Young (ed.) Aesthetics: Critical Concepts in Philosophy, London: Routledge 2005.
(12) "In Defence of Moderate Aesthetic Formalism", Philosophical Quarterly, 2000. (Reprinted in the Metaphysics of Beauty.)
(11) "Defusing Anti-Formalist Arguments", British Journal of Aesthetics, 2000. (Reprinted in the Metaphysics of Beauty.)
(10) "Feasible Aesthetic Formalism", Nous, 1999. (Reprinted in the Metaphysics of Beauty.)
• Translated into Spanish by David Díaz Soto, in Bajo Palabra, 2011.
(9) "Art and Audience", Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 1999. (Reprinted in Aesthetic Creation.)
• Reprinted in Richard Marggraf-Turley, Writing Essays: A Guide for Students in English and the Humanities, Taylor and Francis, 2002.
• Translated into German, published in Kunst und Erfahrung: Beiträge zu einer philosophischen Kontroverse, edited by Stefan Deines, Jasper Liptow and Martin Seel, Surkamp, 2012.
(8) "The Concept of the Aesthetic", European Journal of Philosophy, 1998. (Reprinted with minor revisions in the Metaphysics of Beauty.)
(7) "Aesthetic/Sensory Dependence", British Journal of Aesthetics, 1998. (Reprinted with minor revisions in the Metaphysics of Beauty.)
(6) "The Creative Theory of Art", American Philosophical Quarterly, 1995. (Reprinted with substantial revisions in Aesthetic Creation.)
• Translated into French, in a volume of aesthetics papers, 2015 by Sebastien Renault.
(5) "Kant on Pleasure in the Agreeable", Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 1995.
(4) "The Beautiful, The Dainty, and the Dumpy", British Journal of Aesthetics, 1995. (Reprinted with minor revisions in the Metaphysics of Beauty.)
(3) "UnKantian Notions of Disinterest", British Journal of Aesthetics, 1992.
• Anthologized in Paul Guyer (ed.), Critical Essays on Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment, Rowman & Littlefield, 1993.
(2) "Metaphor and Realism in Aesthetics", Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 1991. (Reprinted with substantial revisions in the Metaphysics of Beauty.)
(1) "Aesthetics and Art", British Journal of Aesthetics, 1986.
• Polish translation by Tadeusz Szubka in Roczniki Filozoficzne, 1988.