Olav Gjelsvik


Stilling : Professor


Adresse : CSMN/IFIKK

 Universitetet i Oslo

 PB 1020 Blindern

 0315 Oslo


Besksadresse: Rom 267, P.A. Munchs hus


Telefon : 228 56976


E-post : olav.gjelsvik@ifikk.uio.no




Olav Gjelsvik studied nordic languages and literature, history, and philosophy at the University of Oslo, and philosophy at University of Oxford where he received his D.Phil in philosophy in 1986. He had then recently joined the department of philosophy in Oslo as a research fellow. He spent the year 1989-90 at the University of California, Berkeley. From 1991 he was appointed associate professor in philosophy in Oslo, and from 1994 full professor.


Gjelsviks research interests include the philosophy of language, mind, and science, and general epistemology and metaphysics.



MA. DPhil.


Full name: Olav Gjelsvik,

Date and place of birth: 30.06.56, Røros, Norway

Maritial status: married, one daughter.

Address: Røaveien 16B, 0752 Oslo

Present occupation: Professor in Philosophy, University of Oslo



1972-75: Examen Artium

1975-80: Cand. Mag, University of Oslo

(1981-82: National Service)

1982-83: Visiting Postgraduate Student, Balliol College Oxford

1983-86: Postgraduate student for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Balliol

College, University of Oxford. Thesis entitled "The Token-Token Identity-

Theory and Recent Theories of Reference" submitted Trinity Term 1986.

Graduated from Oxford as Doctor of Philosophy early 1987.



1982-84: Brynie-Jordan Scholarship at Balliol College

1983-86: Anderson Scholarship, Balliol College

1984-85: British Council Scholarship

1985-86: Overseas Research Scholarship, awarded by the committee of Vice-

Chancellors and Principals of the Universities of the United Kingdom

1989-90: Norwegian Research Council Fellowship to do research at the

University of California, Berkeley

1989-90: Scholarship from the Norway-America Association to do research at

the University of California, Berkeley

1994-95: Scholarship from the Norwegian Research Council to do work in the

Addiction Project (Addicton-Rationality and Irrationality, project running from

1993 to 1997, organised by Jon Elster.)

1995:Scholarship from the London School of Economics, University of London,

to be a Visting Scholar at The Centre for Philosophy Science.

2001: Scholarship from the Norwegain Research Council to do research at the

University of Oxford.



1986-90 Research fellow, Department of Philosophy, University of Oslo

1989-90 Honorary Research Associate, University of California, Berkeley

1991- 94 Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) in Philosophy, University of


1994- Professor of Philosophy, University of Oslo

2000-01 Visiting Fellow and Oliver Smythies Lecturer, Balliol College, Oxford.

2003/4 Director of the international project “Towards a New Understanding of

the Mental “at the Centre for Advanced Study, The Norwegian Academy of

Science and Letters.

2007- Research Director, CSMN, (Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature, a centre of

excellence at the University of Oslo, funded by the Norwegian Research

Council.) Director, CSMN Research School.

2010. Acting Director, CSMN.


Scentific Societies:

Member/Fellow of The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters since 2002.



Many offices at the University of Oslo, Chairman of the Section of Philosophy,


Chairman, Department of Philosophy, 1997-2000.

Norwegian National Representative for the European Society for Analytic


Chairman of The Section of Philosophy, 2003 until 2005.

Chairman of Group 3, Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, 2005-09


Talks: Talks at many conferences and at many European and American

Universities through the years.



Synthese no 1. 1994, with a preface.


Edited Book:

Understanding Choice, Explaining Behaviour, edited with Jon Elster, A.

Hylland and K. Moene, Unipub Publishers, Oslo 2006.


Publications by Olav Gjelsvik:

1) "A Kripkean Objection to Kripke´s Argument against Identity-Theories",

Inquiry 1987, pp. 435-450.

2) "Freges Begreper" (Frege´s Concepts) Norsk Filosofisk Tidsskrift, 1987,


3) "A Note on Objects and Events", Analysis 1988, pp.15-18.

4) "Shootings, Killings and Rifles" Conceptus, 1988.

5) "On the Location of Actions and Tryings", Erkenntnis 1990, pp.39-56.

6) "Representational Content and the Explanation of Behaviour", Inquiry 1990,

pp. 333-353.

7) "Dretske on Knowledge and Content", Synthese 1991, pp. 425-441.

8) "Konsepsjoner av språk og forklaring av kommunikasjon", (Conceptions of

Language and the Explanation of Communication) i H. Grimen og K.

Knapskog, Teori og Narrasjon, Bergen 1992., pp. 210-241.

9) "Korte Tilsvar til Grimen", (Short Replies to Grimen) i Grimen og Knapskog,

Teori og Narrasjon, Bergen 1992., pp. 288-300.

10) "Referanse og Intensjonalitet", (Reference and Intentionality), Norsk

Filosofisk Tidsskrift, 1993, pp. 43-60.

11) "Davidson´s Use of Truth in Accounting for Meaning", in Language, Mind

and Epistemology, Essays on Donald Davidson´s Philosophy, ed. G. Preyer,

F. Siebelt, and A Ulfig, Synthese Library, 1994, pp. 21-43.

12) "On Convention T, and Whether a Tarskian Truth-definition Catches Hold

of the Classical Conception of Truth" , in James Hill and Petr Kotatko, (ed)

Language and Logic. Selected Papers from the Karlovy Vary Meetings on

Analytical Philosophy, Prague 1995. (22 pages)

13) "Intention and Alternatives", in Philosophical Studies, 1996, pp. 159-177.

14) "Matters of Metaphysics.", in Theoria. 1996, pp. 73-78.

15) "Tracking Truth and Solving Puzzles", Inquiry, 1997, pp. 209-224.

16) "Mind and Matter", in Georg Meggle (ed) Actions, Norms, Values, Walter

De Gruyter, Berlin 1999, pp. 65-79.

17) "Addiction, Weakness of the Will, and Relapse", in J. Elster and O.-J. Skog,

(Ed) Getting Hooked, Cambridge University Press, 1999, pp. 47-65.

18) "Freedom of the Will and Addiction" in Jon Elster (ed) Addiction, New

York, Russell Sage 1999, pp. 29-54.

19) "The Epistemology of Decision-Making Naturalised", in A. Orenstein and

P. Kotatko (eds) Knowledge, Language and Logic. Questions for Quine,

Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Kluwer Academic Press, 2000, pp.


20) "Fisk, smerte og etikk", (Fish, Pain and Ethics) in Føllesdal, Andreas (ed.)

Dyreetikk, Fagbokforlaget 2000, pp. 227-245.

21) "Can Two Envelopes Shake the Foundations of Decision-Theory?".

in M.Kiikeri and P. Ylikoski, (ed) Explanatory Connections - Electronic essays

dedicated to Matti Sintonen, Helsinki 2001 14pages.

22) “Paradox Lost, but in which Envelope?” Croatian Journal of Philosophy,

2002; 2(6): 353-362.

23) "Reason and Addiction", in Choice, Behavioural Economics and Addiction

edited by N. Heather and R. Vuchinich, Elsevier Publishers 2003, pp. 219-238.

24) "Reply to Ainslie" in Choice, Behavioural Economics and Addiction edited

by N. Heather and R. Vuchinich, Elsevier Publishers 2003, pp. 245-249.

25) "Experience", in Theoria, nr.2-3 2004, pp. 167-191, a special issue with

invited papers on John McDowell´s Mind and World.

26.)“Facing Facts and Facing Motivations”, Special issue of the journal

Protosoziologie devoted to Stephen Neale’s book Facing Facts. Edited by

Gerhard Preyer. 2006. pp.157-168.

27)“Radikal Tolkning” (Radical Interpretation) Norwegian Journal of

Philosophy 2004, .

28) “Fri vilje, Motivasjon, Addiksjon.”. Lecture for the Norwegian Academy of

Science and Letters, December 11th 2003, published in the Academy’s

Proceedings for 2003, Oslo 2004.

29. “ Causal Explanation Provides Knowledge Why”. In Boston Studies in the

Philosophy of Science: Rethinking Explanation. Edited by Petri Ylikoski and

Johannes Persson. Springer. Dordrecht 2006. pp 71-97..

30. “Bullshit Illuminated”, in Elster, Gjelsvik, Hylland and Moene (eds)

Understanding Choice, Explaining Behaviour, Oslo 2006, pp. 101-111.

31. “On Meaning and Experience”. Forthcoming in a volume edited by Wilhelm

Essler on D. Føllesdal’s philosophical contributions.

32. “Are there Reasons to be Rational”, in a Festschrift for W. Rabinowicz. (ed.

By T. Rönnow-Rasmussen and others.), Lund 2007.

33. “David Hume, Natur og Fornuft”. In a collection of articles for

the basic philosophy teaching at the University of Oslo, edited by A. Pedersen,

Oslo 2008.

33. ”Avhengighet som skade. Høyesteretts dom i røkesaken reist av Robert Lund.”

Tidsskrift for Erstatningsrett, 2008. Pp. 211-222.

34. ”Rationality, Prudence and Procrastination”. In ”The Thief of Time”, eds. White

and Andreou, Oxford University Press 2010.

35. “Integrering, en skotsk idealist, og CSMN. Svar til Alastair Hannay”. Norsk Filosofisk Tidsskrift, 2009, p..158-161.

36. “Darwin og filosofi, (Darwin and Philosophy”. In N.Chr.Stenseth, T.Lie and D.O.Hessen (ed) Verden ble aldri den samme, Gyldendal, Oslo, 2009.

37.(with Edmund Henden): ‘Når er samtykke til rusavhengige personer etisk og juridisk bindende?’ in Ruyter & Solbakk & Waal (eds.) Rusmiddelbrukeren og forskeren, etiske prinsipper, erfaringer og ettertanker, SERAF og SME, ISBN:978-82-303-1257-5. (2009)

38. “Pengar og Fridom. (Money and Freedom)”, in Maaseide og Skirbekk, Filosofi I Vår Tid. Det Norske Samlaget, Oslo, 2009.

39. ”Nærsynthet og sofistikasjon.”, (Myopia and Sophistication) i Rune

Slagstad (Ed) Essay om Jon Elster til 70årsdagen, med tilsvar fra

forfatteren. Kommer Pax forlag 2010.

40. “A Radical Approach To Radical Interpretation”, forthcoming in A Reappraisal of Davidson’s Philosophy, edited by Gerhard Preyer, (probably) Oxford University Press.

41. “Epistemic Reasons and Epistemic Duties”, forthcoming in The Aim of Belief, ed. Timothy Chan, (probably) Oxford University Press

42. “Tenke langt, handle rett”. (Think long, act right), forthcoming in Nytt Norsk Tidsskrift 2010.


Manuscript: Book about to be completed entitled

Knowledge, Freedom, and Addiction. (230 pages)


Cambridge University Press is interested, but no contract is signed yet. The work exist in manuscript form, but there is still a lot to do on it.



There are seven separate chapters connected through various applications of the concept

of knowledge. The books starts with some arguments in support of a conception of the

mental at its most general, where knowledge plays a distinct and fundamental role, then provides an account of explanation from the concept of knowledge. The heart of the book is in action theory and the application of philosophy to questions in social science. I develop a new conception of doing something intentionally as knowingly making the world be a certain way, and argues that this account for acting by understanding it from a certain conception of practical knowledge. The book further argues for a deep connection between normative knowledge and freedom (freedom is, to put it generically and simplistically, to translate normative knowledge into action). It then accounts for weak will and practical reasoning, and thereafter uses prudence as a model for how to think about the connection between reason and motivation. The ends with and account of reason and addiction, and addiction as a case where the freedom of the will erodes. Here recent work in social natural science is illuminated by portraying its significance for understanding agency, (by understanding the erosion of agency), and the account of agency gets to be informed by new knowledge in the empirical sciences about the underpinnings of full and free agency.


The chapters are:



Ch. 1 Knowledge in understanding others

Ch. 2 Explanation and knowing why

Ch. 3 Agency and knowledge in action

Ch. 4 Freedom of the will and normative knowledge

Ch. 5 Weakness of the will and practical reasoning

Ch. 6 Motivation through time and the objectivity of reason

Ch. 7 Understanding addiction, understanding action


Publications from projects Gjelsvik has directed


Gjelsvik has from 2004 until 2008  directed the following with Norwegian Research Council: Moral Responsibility and Practical Deliberation. From 2009 he directs the project Addiction and Moral Responsibility, (Norwegian Research Council). Projest participants include the three young scholars Edmund Henden, Hans Olav Melberg. Ole Røgeberg.



The first project has resulted in the following publications:

1. Henden, E (2008): “What is Self-Control?”, Philosophical Psychology Vol. 21, No.

1, Routledge, Taylor & Francis, pp. 69-90.

2. Henden, E (2007): “Is Genuine Satisficing Rational?”, Ethical Theory and Moral

Practice, Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 339-352..

3. Henden, E (2007): “Restrictive Consequentialism and Real Friendship”, Ratio-New

Series, XX(2), June, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, pp. 179-193.

4. Henden, E (2006): “The Role of All things Considered Judgements in Practical

Deliberation”, Philosophical Explorations, Vol. 9, No. 3,

Routledge, Taylor & Francis, pp. 295-308.

5. Henden, E (2004): “Weakness of Will and Divisions of the Mind”, European

Journal of Philosophy 12: 2, Blackwell Publishing Ltd., pp. 199-


6. Henden, E (2004): “Intentions, All-Out Evaluations and Weakness of the Will”,

Erkenntnis 61, Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 53-74.