Daniel John Sportiello

Daniel John Sportiello
  • University of Mary
  • Assistant Professor of Philosophy
  • Affiliation During NDIAS Fellowship: University of Notre Dame
  • Graduate Fellow (2014-2015)
  • "The Primacy of the Practical in the History of Philosophy"

Daniel John Sportiello is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Mary. His research interests are in ethical theory, ancient philosophy, social and political philosophy, and applied ethics. In his research, he works to recover the insight that philosophy is something that we do—that it is, in other words, a way of dealing with the questions and concerns that arise as we live our lives. It is this conception of philosophy that inspires his teaching: he shows his students that philosophy is an exploration of the questions and concerns that they already have—the same questions and concerns that make them human. This means, of course, that philosophy is an expression of our condition—but also that it is a tool to interrogate that condition, to reorder our society and ourselves.

Passionately interested in the work of Immanuel Kant and Ludwig Wittgenstein, Dr. Sportiello is also interested in the philosophy of science—especially the philosophy of biology. With Jessica Hellmann—who was, at the time, Associate Professor of Biology and NDIAS Fellow—he is author of “Branches of the Same Tree: Toward a Scientific Reflection upon Value”; this essay is forthcoming in the revised edition of the NDIAS anthology, The Idea of a Catholic Institute for Advanced Study. With the Notre Dame Evolution Working Group, he has published reviews of Brian Boyd’s On the Origin of Stories and Elliott Sober’s Did Darwin Write the Origin Backwards? In addition, he has published a review of Stanley Cavell’s This New Yet Unapproachable America in American Political Thought. He has also spoken at the Waggoner Center at Louisiana Tech, the Santa Clara Department of Philosophy, the Philosophy and History Workshop at Notre Dame, and the Notre Dame Department of Philosophy.

Dr. Sportiello is especially passionate about the intersection of philosophy and teaching; on that note, he has received both the Outstanding Graduate Instructor Award from Notre Dame’s Graduate Student Union and the Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award from Notre Dame’s Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning. At Santa Clara University, he received a Hackworth Grant from the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics; at the University of Notre Dame, he received a Graduate Professional Development Grant from the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, a Notebaert Professional Development Award from the Graduate School, and a Graduate Student Professional Development Award from the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts. He is a member of the American Philosophical Association, the American Catholic Philosophical Association, and the International Society for MacIntyrean Enquiry.


  • Ludwig Wittgenstein on Rationalism

    Palgrave Macmillan, 2020

    Daniel John Sportiello

    Sportiello Wittgenstein

    If “rationalism” refers to the thesis that there is a right way to do whatever it is that we do—a way that we, with our reason, can discover—then Ludwig Wittgenstein is a critic of rationalism. For our words and deeds are justified only by the rules of particular language-games—but these language-games are themselves justified only insofar as they meet our needs; certainly none of them need be justified by reference to any of the others. Together, our language-games constitute our form of life; though this form of life is not entirely arbitrary—some of its features can be explained by reference to our nature—nonetheless, it could be different in many ways. Indeed, it has been—and therefore probably will be—different in many ways; on some level, we all know this. Philosophy at its worst is the attempt to forget it; philosophy at its best is, therefore, the attempt to remember it.

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