Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Princeton University
American Academy Distinguished Visitor - Class of Spring 2003
Harry Frankfurt is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Princeton University and has had previous teaching positions at Yale University and Rockefeller University. Frankfurt is an expert in moral philosophy, philosophy of mind and action, and seventeenth century rationalism. He is particularly known for his 1986 publication, On Bullshit, which is a philosophical investigation on the concept of bullshit. The book was republished in 2005, and received much attention. The following year Frankfurt released a companion book, On Truth, which explores society’s loss of appreciation for truth. Among philosophers, Frankfurt is best known for his interpretation of Descartes’ rationalism and for developing “Frankfurt cases,” a counterargument to the Principle of Alternative Possibilities, which reasons that a person is morally responsible for an action only if that person could have done otherwise. Instead, Frankfurt argues that our theoretical ability to do otherwise does not necessarily make it possible for us to do otherwise.
Frankfurt has been a fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a visiting Fellow of All Souls College at Oxford University. He has also received grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Andrew Mellon Foundation.