Professor Helen Steward

Professor Helen Steward

Professor of Philosophy of Mind and Action

+44 (0)113 343 3661

Summary: Philosophy of Action/Free Will; Philosophy of Mind; Metaphysics.

Location: Michael Sadler

Teaching Commitments: 33661

Helen's research interests lie mainly in the philosophy of action (including free will), the philosophy of mind, and in the metaphysical and ontological issues which bear on these areas (e.g. causation, supervenience, levels of explanation, the event/state distinction).

The metaphysics of free will is a particular interest, and her second book 'A Metaphysics for Freedom' (OUP) was published in March 2012. A special issue of Inquiry devoted to this work was published in 2013; a special issue of Res Philosophica  is forthcoming. This book 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.

Recently, Helen has turned her attention to work on the category of process, and in particular, its relevance to agency. 'Actions as Processes' appeared in Philosophical Perspectives 26 (2012) and  'Processes, Continuants and Individuals' in Mind 122 (2013). Future plans include the further development of this work on processes, as well as the wider investigation of the philosophical implications of a full-blown recognition (for personal identity, emotions, embodied experience, etc.) of the animality of human beings.

Helen is an associate editor for the journal Philosophical Explorations. 

Research Interests

  • Philosophy of Action (especially the free will/determinism debate)
  • Philosophy of Mind (mental causation, mental ontology, the self)
  • Metaphysics (causation, modality, some aspects of time)

Helen is happy to offer graduate supervision in the first two of these areas, and in certain specific regions of the third!

Selected Publications

  • A Metaphysics for Freedom, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012) - link to NBiP podcast here:

  • ‘Responses’, Inquiry 56 (2013): 681-706. (This contains my responses to the comments of eight authors on my monograph, A Metaphysics for Freedom, to which a special issue of Inquiry was dedicated).

  • 'Processes, Continuants and Individuals', Mind 122 (2013): 781-812.

  • 'Actions as Processes', Philosophical Perspectives 26:1 (2012): 373-88.

  • Downloadable versions of papers freely available via White Rose Research Online

Other Publications


  • Agency and Action ed. H. Steward and John Hyman (Cambridge: CUP, 2004).
  • The Ontology of Mind: Events, Processes and States (Oxford: OUP, 1997).


  • ‘The Metaphysical Presuppositions of Moral Responsibility’, Journal of Ethics 16:2 (2012): 241-71 Perception and the Ontology of Causation', in Naomi Eilan, Hemdat Lerman and Johannes Roessler (eds.), Perception, Causation and Objectivity: Issues in Philosophy and Psychology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).
  • ‘Moral Responsibility and the Concept of Agency’, in Richard Swinburne (ed.), Free Will and Modern Science (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 2011: 141-57. 
  • 'Free Will' in J.Shand (ed.) Central Issues of Philosophy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009): 152-64.
  • 'The Truth in Compatibilism and the Truth of Libertarianism', Philosophical Explorations 12.2 (2009): 167-179.
  • Fairness, Agency and the Flicker of Freedom', Nous 43 (2009): 64-93.
  • 'Determinism and Inevitability', Philosophical Studies 130 (2006), 535-63.
  • 'Animal Agency', Inquiry 52 (2009): 217-31.
  • ‘Agency, Causality and Properties’, in Frontiers of Philosophy in China 6 (3), 2011. Available online  (DOI) 10.1007/s11466-011-0146-2.