Professor Helen Steward FBA

Professor Helen Steward FBA


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. Recently,  I have been writing about plant agency and behaviour; laws of nature; the concept of determinism; and the idea of a two-way power – and am in the process of writing a book on causation.

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 am currently writing a book on causation. 

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="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


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

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the British Academy
  • British Philosophical Assocation
  • Mind Association
  • Aristotelian Society

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.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Metaphysics and Mind

Current postgraduate researchers

<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="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>