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Aaron Wolf

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  • Reviving Concurrentism About Death [abstract]
  • Epicurus said that if death isn't bad for us before we die or after we're gone, then it can't be bad at all. He neglected the possibility that death is bad for us just at the time we die, which has gotten a bad rap these days. I defend this view by showing that it fits uniquely with our understanding of non-mortal harms.
          Journal of Value Inquiry, forthcoming

  • Giving Up Hume's Guillotine [abstract]
  • Some distinctions don't hold up to the jobs they're made for. I argue against three ways of defending Hume's "No Ought From Is" thesis, on the basis that they either get the distinction wrong, or they're false. This suggests that we'd do better to look at Moore's view that no normative term is synonymous with any normative term.
          Australasian Journal of Philosophy 2015, vol. 93 no. 1: 109-125

Work in progress

  • Do Reasons Drain Away? [abstract]
  • Many philosophers think goodness doesn't give normative reasons because the properties that make things good are sufficient on their own to generate all the reasons we have. I argue against this by showing that this way of excluding goodness leads to a regress where reasons are systematically alienating, and which may prevent them from existing.
  • More Problems with Hume's Guillotine [abstract]
  • I continue the project of "Giving Up Hume's Guillotine": arguing that formal attempts at proving Hume's "No Ought From Is" principle miss the mark by failing to give an adequate criterion of normativity, this time with a new crop of proofs.
  • Reasons as Possible Motivators [abstract]
  • It's a common thought that nothing is a normative reason unless it can be a motivating reason. This is a variation of the doctrine that ought implies can. But like OIC, there are many objections to the idea of reasons as possible motivators. I propose and defend a version of it against counterexamples while remaining neutral on the harder question of existence internalism about reasons.

About Me

I'm a philosopher, and a Lecturer in the Core Liberal Arts and Philosophy programs at Colgate University. I specialize in ethics and metaethics. I got a PhD in philosophy from Syracuse University in 2015.

In my research I work on fundamental questions about ethics and normativity. For example: is there any sense in which ought implies can? (Yes!) Can we infer ought from is? (No! But for different reasons than you'd think.) Can we save the idea that values give reasons? (Yes!) I've also written about whether (and when) death is bad for us, and I have a growing interest in the ethics of artificial intelligence.


Recent Teaching