University of Calgary

Kai Nielsen

  • Professor Emeritus
  • In Memoriam


Dr. Kai Nielsen passed away on April 7, 2021. Professor Nielsen received his PhD from Duke University in 1959, and held academic appointments at Amherst College and New York University before joining the department at the University of Calgary. He was a past president of the Canadian Philosophical Association and a Member of the Royal Society of Canada. He was one of Canada's most prominent social and political philosophers, the author of 22 books and more than 400 articles in political philosophy, ethics, metaphilosophy, and philosophy of religion. Following his retirement, Kai made his home in Montreal, Quebec, where he continued to write as a unique voice on the political left.  

In 2012, Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will: The Political Philosophy of Kai Nielsen, a collection of Nielsen's essays edited by David Rondel and Alex Sager, was published by University of Calgary Press. The book includes an extended interview with Nielsen. You can read much of his work, including unpublished pieces, on his website at

A Note About Publications Appearing Here

Below are a list of my writings I have just begun (2014) to have posted online for public access. Work that has been published is listed under the appropriate category; any use of it should include appropriate citation in compliance with copyright laws. Titles that appear under the category "Other" are working drafts of various things that have not yet appeared in print.  


Journal Article


Photograph of Kai Nielsen

Curriculum Vitae


  • PhD
    Duke University, 1959
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