Harry Alanen


My DPhil thesis is on Aristotle's philosophy of action, in particular, on questions relating to the ontology of actions, and the psychology of agents. My main focus is on Aristotle's arguments regarding change, agency, patients, and self-motion in the Physics. My work is currently supported by the Alfred Kordelin Foundation.

I am also interested in seeing how Aristotle's approach to the explanation of action differs from contemporary approaches, especially theories inspired by Elizabeth Anscombe's or Donald Davidson's work. For abstracts and handouts on presentations I’ve given on these topics, please see my Academia.edu page.

Generally, I am interested in how contemporary problems in philosophy derive or relate to the history of philosophy and in action in relation to ethics. If you are working on, or interested in, similar topics, get in touch!


I plan to expand on my DPhil research to cover questions about Aristotle's views on the soul and its parts, and how different powers of the animal soul function so that the animal moves or acts. In partiular I am interested in how perception, reason, and desire relate to each other.

I am also interested in Aristotle's views on rational agency and responsibility, and in understudied topics such as Aristotle's views on habitual action, and social agency.

Another project I am planning to undertake is an overview of action and agency throughout the history of philosophy, and how present day philosophy of action developed.


Aside from my interests in Aristotle's philosophy, I am also interested in Plato's moral psychology and his arguments regarding the role of women in the Kallipolis. My interest in Plato grew out from teaching the Republic.

Other, future projects I hope to pursue one day include the philosophy of Margaret Cavendish (and her views on intelligent matter), and Aristotle's understanding of and arguments against his predecessors (especially in Physics I, De Anima I, Metaphysics I & VII).