Sami Pihlström

Professor of Philosophy of Religion

  • PL 3 (Fabianinkatu 33)



  • Finland

1996 …2024

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Curriculum vitae

CURRICULUM VITAE (December 2022)

Pihlström Sami Johannes (ORCID 0000-0002-6410-8382)



  • FT/PhD, University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, theoretical philosophy, 1996
  • FL/Phil.Lic., University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, theoretical philosophy, 1994
  • FK/MA, University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, theoretical philosophy, 1993
  • Title of Docent: theoretical philosophy, UH (1998); philosophy, University of Turku (1998); philosophy, especially axiology and philosophical anthropology, University of Eastern Finland (former University of Kuopio, 2000).


Current employment

  • Professor of Philosophy of Religion, Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki, since August 1, 2014. (Full permanent professorship.)


Previous work experience

  • Director, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki (August, 2009 – July, 2015).
  • Professor of Practical Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä (September, 2006 – July, 2015). On a leave due to the HCAS directorship in 2009-2015 (and in 2006-2007).
  • Professor of Philosophy (acting), University of Tampere (October, 2005 – July, 2007).
  • University Lecturer of Theoretical Philosophy, University of Helsinki (August, 2001 – August, 2006). (Permanent appointment, on a leave due to professorship in 2005-2006.)
  • Post-doctoral Fellow, Academy of Finland (August, 1999 – July, 2002).
  • Visiting fellowships and research periods abroad during current professorship: Potsdam University (May, 2022, within a 3-month research stay/tour in Germany partly funded by the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters); École Normale Supérieure, Paris (November-December, 2019); Forum Scientiarum, University of Tübingen (October, 2015 – February, 2016). Earlier extended research and teaching visits at, e.g., Vienna (2013), Bremen (2001), Harvard (1995).


Research funding and grants

  • 2014-2019: Team leader (team 2/3) in the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence, Reason and Religious Recognition, UH Faculty of Theology (PI Risto Saarinen).
  • 2015-2016: PI, Finnish Foundations’ Professorial Pool sabbatical grant, 25.000€.
  • 2009-2015: Administratively, PI of various major grants/projects hosted by the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, including fellowship programs funded by the Kone Foundation, the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, and the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation.
  • 2011-2013: PI, Argumenta Project, Finnish Cultural Foundation, Human Mortality, 200.000€. (Also hosted by the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies.)
  • 2008-2012: PI, NOS-HS- and Nordforsk-funded projects of the Nordic Pragmatism Network, jointly ca. 140.000€.
  • 2008-2011: PI, Academy Project, The Ethical Grounds of Metaphysics, 400.000€.
  • 2003-2006: PI, Academy Project, The Limits of Naturalism, 150.000€.
  • 1999-2002: PI, Academy of Finland Post-Doctoral Fellowship.


Research supervision and leadership experience

  • Supervisor of 17 completed doctoral dissertations (plus ca. 10 in progress), mostly at the University of Helsinki, and several dozens of BA- and MA-level theses.
  • Comprehensive leadership experience as the Director of the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (2009-2015) and as the Director of the Doctoral Program for Theology and Religious Studies, University of Helsinki (2018-2021).
  • Membership in administrative bodies such as the Faculty Council of the UH Faculty of Theology (2018-) and the Faculty Council of the University of Jyväskylä Faculty of Social Sciences (2008-2009), plus several other university leadership groups.


Teaching merits

  • Comprehensive teaching experience at Finnish universities since 1993.
  • Major responsibilities for teaching and curriculum development at the University of Jyväskylä (pedagogical director of the department in 2007-2008) and at the University of Helsinki (doctoral program director in 2018-2021).


Awards and honours

  • Young scholar’s essay prizes granted by the Charles S. Peirce Society and the American Philosophical Association in 1998.
  • Textbook prize (as a member of a team) by Edita in 2001.
  • University of Kentucky philosophy essay prize in 2004.
  • Vuoden Märsky 2018 (alumnus of the year, Mäkelänrinne High School, Helsinki).
  • UH Faculty of Theology teacher’s prize in 2019.
  • Festschrifts edited by colleagues and former students in 2009 and 2019.
  • Invited lifetime memberships based on academic recognition: Academia Europaea (2015-), Institut International de Philosophie (2016-), Finnish Academy of Science and Letters (2017-), and Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters (2020-).


Other key academic merits

  • Vice-Chair (2016-2018) and Chair (2019-2021) of the Research Council for Culture and Society, Academy of Finland. (In relation to this major academic position of trust, also the Finnish board member of Humanities in the European Research Area [HERA], 2016-2021; member of the sub-committees of the Board of the Academy of Finland [yleisjaosto, lippulaivaohjelman jaosto], 2019-2021; plus memberships in the steering groups of Academy programs, etc.)
  • Pre-examiner and/or opponent at several doctoral dissertations since the late 1990s (opponent also at the Universities of Uppsala [2020] and Utrecht [2012]).
  • Member or chair of several search committees and recruitment processes, including UH professorial recruitments since 2009.
  • Expert evaluator in recruitments and in evaluation of applications for the Title of Docent, several times at different universities in Finland and abroad (e.g., Uppsala, Koblenz).
  • Peer review of funding applications: constantly since the early 2000s, e.g., at various Finnish foundations. (Peer-review-based decision-making concerning funding applications at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies and at the Academy of Finland.)
  • Memberships and positions of trust in academic organizations: Chair of the Group of Philosophical and Aesthetic Sciences at the Finnish Academy of Sciences and Letters (2019-); President of the Philosophical Society of Finland (2016-), board member (1996-); Vice-President (2021-2022) and President-elect (2023-2024) of the William James Society; Vice-President of Institut International de Philosophie (2022-); current or former board member of various international academic societies/networks, including the Nordic Pragmatism Network, the European Pragmatism Association, the Nordic Society for Philosophy of Religion, Institut International de Philosophie, Central European Pragmatist Forum, and Charles S. Peirce Society.
  • Memberships in international evaluation committees: the research assessments of the Tampere University Institute for Advanced Studies (2018), the University of Turku Graduate School (2021), and the University of Turku Faculty of Social Science (2022).
  • Several editorial board memberships and editorial roles since the 1990s, most significantly the Editor-in-Chief of Ajatus: Yearbook of the Philosophical Society of Finland (2004-2011, Editor 1996-2003), the Book Review Editor of Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society (2008-2014), and an Executive Editor of Sats (2006-2014).
  • Referee (constantly since the 1990s) for major journals, including Mind, Synthese, Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, Erkenntnis, International Journal of Philosophical Studies, and dozens of others, and for leading international publishers, including Cambridge UP, Palgrave Macmillan, MIT Press, SUNY Press, Bloomsbury, Springer, Indiana UP, Lexington (Rowman & Littlefield), Brill, and many others.
  • Dozens of co-organized academic conferences, including (most recently) the 3rd European Pragmatism Conference (UH, 2018) and the Entretiens of the I.I.P. (UH, 2019).


Scientific and societal impact

  • Positions of trust also outside the academia, recently including the board membership of the Alvar Aalto Foundation (2021-2022).


Publications (only international monographs listed here; full list of 400+ publications available upon request):

  1. Structuring the World: The Issue of Realism and the Nature of Ontological Problems in Classical and Contemporary Pragmatism, Acta Philosophica Fennica, Vol. 59, The Philosophical Society of Finland, Helsinki, 1996, 446 pp.
  2. Pragmatism and Philosophical Anthropology: Understanding Our Human Life in a Human World, American University Studies, V: Philosophy, Vol. 186, Peter Lang, New York, 1998, xv + 287 pp.
  3. Naturalizing the Transcendental: A Pragmatic View, Prometheus/Humanity Books, Amherst, NY, 2003, 390 pp.
  4. Solipsism: History, Critique, and Relevance, Acta Philosophica Tamperensia, Vol. 3, Tampere University Press, Tampere, 2004, 299 pp.
  5. Pragmatic Moral Realism: A Transcendental Defense, Studies in Pragmatism and Values (Value Inquiry Book Series, Vol. 171), Rodopi, Amsterdam and New York, 2005, xiii + 171 pp.
  6. “The Trail of the Human Serpent Is over Everything”: Jamesian Perspectives on Mind, World, and Religion, University Press of America (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group), Lanham, MD, 2008, 253 pp.
  7. Pragmatist Metaphysics: An Essay on the Ethical Grounds of Ontology, Continuum, London and New York, 2009, xi + 216 pp.
  8. Transcendental Guilt: Reflections on Ethical Finitude, Lexington Books (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group), Lanham, MD, 2011, viii + 135 pp.
  9. Pragmatic Pluralism and the Problem of God, Fordham University Press, New York, 2013, xii + 245 pp.
  10. Taking Evil Seriously, Palgrave Pivot, Basingstoke, 2014, viii + 139 pp.
  11. Death and Finitude: Toward a Pragmatic Transcendental Anthropology of Human Limits and Mortality, Lexington Books (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group), Lanham, MD, 2016, x + 217
  12. (coauthor: Sari Kivistö) Kantian Antitheodicy: Philosophical and Literary Varieties, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2016, x + 320 pp.
  13. Pragmatic Realism, Religious Truth, and Antitheodicy: On Viewing the World by Acknowledging the Other, Helsinki University Press, Helsinki,, 2020, xxvi + 195 pp.
  14. Why Solipsism Matters, Bloomsbury, London and New York, 2020, viii + 228 pp.
  15. Pragmatist Truth in the Post-Truth Age: Sincerity, Normativity, and Humanism, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2021, xii + 244 pp.
  16. Toward a Pragmatist Philosophy of the Humanities, State University of New York Press, Albany, NY, xii + 264 pp., 2022.
  17. Humanism, Antitheodicism, and the Critique of Meaning in Pragmatist Philosophy of Religion, Lexington Books (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group), Lanham, MD, forthcoming 2023.


Fields of Science

  • 614 Theology
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • 611 Philosophy
  • Pragmatism
  • Philosophy of Religion

International and National Collaboration

Publications and projects within past five years.