Professor Helen Steward

Professor Helen Steward

Profile

My research interests lie mainly in the philosophy of action and free will, the philosophy of mind, and the metaphysical and ontological issues which bear on these areas (e.g. causation, supervenience, levels of explanation, the event/state distinction, the concepts of process and power). I have also worked on the category of animality and on understandings of the human being which take seriously our membership of the animal kingdom, and related biological and evolutionary perspectives on ourselves. More recently, I have been branching out into the philosophy of perception (especially with respect to the senses of touch, movement and proprioception); and the philosophy of representation and content. I have recently also become interested in (though not necessarily yet committed to) enactivist approaches to the human mind.

From 2014-16, I was the holder of an AHRC Fellowship, working on a project entitled 'Persons as Animals: Understanding the Animal Bases of Agency, Perceptual Knowledge and Thought'. This project initiated my recent foray into the philosophy of perception and of representation, and I am continuing to work on these questions. The project also involved a collaboration with Chester Zoo, concerned with the question how varying views of humanity's position within the animal kingdom might affect our concern to care for it.

The metaphysics of free will has always been, and continues to be, a particular interest. My second book, 'A Metaphysics for Freedom' (OUP)  argues for a distinctive version of incompatibilism, based on the idea that there is a conflict not only between determinism and free human action, but also between determinism and the activities of a wide variety of animals.

I have also worked recently on the category of process, and in particular, its relevance to agency.

You can watch my inaugural lecture here:

http://www.leeds.ac.uk/arts/info/20045/leeds_humanities_research_institute/2564/inaugural_lecture 

And you can watch an interview with Ricardo Lopes on my views concerning free will and agency here:

https://youtu.be/WggFO-sUwOI

Responsibilities

  • Deputy Head of School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science

Research interests

  • Philosophy of Action (especially the free will/determinism debate)
  • Animals and their similarities to, and differences from, human beings
  • Philosophy of Mind (mental causation; mental ontology; the self; personal identity; philosophy of perception; representation and content)
  • Metaphysics (causation, modality, some aspects of time)

I am happy to offer graduate supervision in the first three of these areas, and in certain specific regions of the fourth!

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Qualifications

  • D.Phil 'Events, States and Processes: the Ontology of Mind'
  • B.Phil in Philosophy
  • BA Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Professional memberships

  • British Philosophical Association
  • Aristotelian Society (Executive Committee Member)
  • Mind Association

Student education

I have taught a wide range of subjects at undergraduate level, including Philosophy of Mind, Metaphysics, Epistemology, Philosophy of Language and History of Modern Philosophy.

Current postgraduate research students

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/research-opportunities">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>