May 29, 1929 |
|Alma mater||Johns Hopkins University|
|Moral philosophy, philosophy of mind, free will, love, philosophy of action|
|Frankfurt counterexamples, higher-order volition, theory of bullshit|
Harry Gordon Frankfurt (born May 29, 1929) is an American philosopher. He is professor emeritus of philosophy at Princeton University, where he taught from 1990 until 2002, and previously taught at Yale University, Rockefeller University, and Ohio State University.
His major areas of interest include moral philosophy, philosophy of mind and action, and 17th century rationalism. His 1986 paper On Bullshit, a philosophical investigation of the concept of "bullshit", was republished as a book in 2005 and became a surprise bestseller, leading to media appearances such as Jon Stewart's The Daily Show. In 2006 he released a companion book, On Truth, which explores society's loss of appreciation for truth.
Among philosophers, he was for a time best known for his interpretation of Descartes's rationalism. His most influential work, however, has been on freedom of the will (on which he has written numerous important papers) based on his concept of higher-order volitions and for developing what are known as "Frankfurt cases" or "Frankfurt counterexamples" (i.e., thought experiments designed to show the possibility of situations in which a person could not have done other than he/she did, but in which our intuition is to say nonetheless that this feature of the situation does not prevent that person from being morally responsible). Frankfurt is probably the leading living Humean compatibilist, developing Hume's view that to be free is to do what one wants to do. (Others who develop this view are David Velleman, Gary Watson and John Martin Fischer.) Frankfurt's version of compatibilism is the subject of a substantial literature by other philosophy professors. More recently, he has written on love and caring.
He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has been a Visiting Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford University; he served as President, Eastern Division, American Philosophical Association; and he has received fellowships and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Andrew Mellon Foundation.
- Demons, Dreamers and Madmen: The Defense of Reason in Descartes's Meditations. Princeton University Press. 2007 . ISBN 978-0691134161.
- The Importance of What We Care About: Philosophical Essays. Cambridge University Press. 1988. ISBN 978-0521336116.
- Necessity, Volition, and Love. Cambridge University Press. 1999. ISBN 978-0521633956.
- The Reasons of Love. Princeton University Press. 2004. ISBN 978-0691126241.
- On Bullshit. Princeton University Press. 2005. ISBN 0-691-12294-6.
- On Truth. Random House. 2006. ISBN 0-307-26422-X.
- Taking Ourselves Seriously & Getting It Right. Stanford University Press. 2006. ISBN 0-8047-5298-2.
- 'The Necessity of Love' in Alex Voorhoeve Conversations on Ethics. Oxford University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-19-921537-9 (A discussion of his views on moral responsibility, caring and love, and the relationship of his later work on the structure of the will to his earlier work on Descartes.)
- Bischof, Michael H. (2004). Kann ein Konzept der Willensfreiheit auf das Prinzip der alternativen Möglichkeiten verzichten? Harry G. Frankfurts Kritik am Prinzip der alternativen Möglichkeiten (PAP). In: Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung (ZphF), Heft 4.
- Frankfurt, Harry. "Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility". In Reason & Responsibility: Readings in Some Basic Problems of Philosophy, edited by Joel Feinberg and Russ Shafer-Landau, 486-492. California: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008.