Professor Helen Beebee

Professor Helen Beebee

Profile

I studied at Warwick (BA), Liverpool (MA) and King's College London (PhD). Before coming to Leeds in 2022, I held temporary lectureships at Edinburgh, St. Andrews and UCL, a postdoc at the Australian National University), and permanent positions at Manchester, Birmingham and then Manchester again.

I am Chair of the Editorial Board of BSPS Opena new joint initiative between the British Society for the Philosophy of Science and University of Calgary Press that will publish a series of open-access philosophy of science monographs at no cost to the author or their institution. I am also an associate editor of the Journal of the American Philosophical Association and was previously one of the co-editors of Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 2013–17I'm also on the editorial boards of Hume Studies and the Australasian Journal of Philosophy.

Since 2015 I have been one of four Patrons of the Athena SWAN Charter. I was President of the Aristotelian Society 2017–18, President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science 2015–17, Director of the British Philosophical Assocation 2007–2011, and a member of the AHRC's Advisory Board 2009–2013. 

Research interests

From 2016–2019 I was the Principal investigator on the AHRC-funded project, The age of metaphysical revolution: David Lewis and his place in the history of analytic philosophy, one upshot of which was the two-volume Philosophical Letters of D.K. Lewis (OUP 2020)co-edited by myself and Anthony Fisher. A collection of papers on Lewis, also co-edited with Anthony and published with OUP, is due out in 2022, with papers by – amongst others – Frank Jackson, Angelika Kratzer and David Chalmers.

I have been involved in various other research projects, including a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship (2008–10) and a large AHRC project ('Metaphysics of Science', 2006–09), with Alexander Bird, Stephen Mumford, Matt Tugby and Markus Schrenk.

Lewis scholarship aside, much of my research falls mostly under two broad themes: Humeanism, which I take to be the view that there is no such thing as natural necessity (or, if there is, it is a fairly superficial rather than a fundamental feature of reality), and, more recently, Women in Philosophy.

Humeanism

I have written on some central aspects of the debate about Humeanism, including whether or not the laws of nature 'govern' what happens ('The non-governing conception of laws of nature'Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (2000)), whether Humeanism entails inductive scepticism ('Necessary connections and the problem of induction'Nous 45 (2011)), and whether causal relations are observable ('Seeing causing'Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 103 (2003)). I'm co-author (with Peter Menzies) of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Counterfactual Theories of Causation.

I have also written on Hume himself, including Hume on Causation (Routledge 2006) and 'Hume's two definitions' (Hume Studies 37 (2011)).

I also have an interest in freedom of the will, and in particular in defending compatibilism - e.g. in 'Humean compatibilism'(Mind 111 (2002), with Al Mele), which brings a Humean conception of laws to bear on van Inwagen's Consequence Argument, in response to a worry about Lewis's compatibilist account that I raise in 'Local Miracle Compatibilism'(Nous 37 (2003)). 

Women in Philosophy

My interest in the under-representation of women in philosophy started when Jenny Saul and I researched and wrote a report, Women in Philosophy in the UK, on behalf of the British Philosophical Association/Society for Women in Philosophy Committee for Women in Philosophy in 2011. The Committee (which I co-chaired with Jenny) followed that up with the launch, in late 2013, of a 'Good Practice Scheme', aimed at encouraging UK philosophy departments and learned societies to reflect and improve on their inclusiveness. In 2021 we published an updated report, Women in Philosophy in the UK, 2021.

I have a paper, 'Women and deviance in philosophy', in a collection edited by Katrina Hutchison and Fiona Jenkins (Women in Philosophy: What Needs to Change?OUP 2013), and a special issue of Symposion (an open-access journal), Diversity in Philosophy (November 2020), co-edited with Anne-Marie McCallion. This includes a paper co-authored with McCallion, 'In Defence of Different Voices', which takes issue with Louise Antony's pessimistic assessment of the prospects of what she calls the 'Different Voices' model for explaining the underrepresentation of women. I also have various blog posts and a radio interview on this topic.

<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

  • PhD in Philosophy (KCL)
  • MA in Philosophy (Liverpool)
  • BA in Philosophy (Warwick)

Student education

I have taught a wide variety of topics at undergraduate and Masters levels, including philosophy of science, philosophy of physics, metaphysics, personal identity and freedom of the will, and history of philosophy.

I am happy to supervise PhD and Masters dissertations on any area related to my published work. These include topics in metaphysics (free will, natural kinds, laws, causation), history of philosophy (Hume's epistemology and metaphysics), and philosophy of mind (mental causation). 

I am also happy to supervise on:

  • issues surrounding moral responsibility, especially as they connect with the free will debate and (relatedly) the recent debate about whether, or to what extent, we're morally culpable for harbouring implicit biases.
  • philosophical methodology, including the nature and proper role of philoshical intuitions, conceptual analysis, and experimental philosophy.
  • personal identity.
<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://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>