Who is Susan Wolf?June 26, 2021
Susan Wolf or full name Susan Rose Wolf is a philosopher born in 1952. Wolf, a professor of philosophy at the University of North Carolina, is an American philosopher of ethics and action. She has taught at Johns Hopkins University (1986-2002), the University of Maryland (1981-1986), and Harvard University (1978-1981).
Wolf earned a BA in philosophy and mathematics from Yale University in 1974, followed by a PhD in philosophy from Princeton University in 1978. Thesis advisor is Thomas Nagel.
After completing his PhD, Wolf began his career teaching at Harvard University. She enlisted at the University of Maryland in 1981, she. She worked as the Head of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University from 1986 to 2002. In 2002, she became the Edna J. Koury Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina she.
Wolf has been on the board of trustees of the National Center for the Humanities in Research Triangle Park, NC, since 2014.
Wolf was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999 and of the American Philosophical Society in 2006. She received the Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award in 2002 she.
Wolf’s wife, Douglas MacLean, is also a philosophy scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Susan Rose Wolf
Susan Wolf’s Philosophy
Susan Wolf’s work focuses on the relationship between freedom, morality, happiness and meaningfulness in life. In her book “Freedom Within Reason” (Oxford, 1990), she defines free will as the ability to do what one thinks reasonably right. This is to say that in a deterministic universe man still has autonomy and a sense of responsibility.
Susan Wolf is an advocate of compatibilism, arguing that free will consists in acting according to Reason with the full knowledge of Right and Good.
Neo-Platonists, church philosophers, and moderns like Immanuel Kant all argued that we are free when we do the right thing and not free when we do the wrong thing—we are merely slaves to our desires and passions.
This view apparently contradicts the church’s standard explanation of the problem of evil (theodicy). According to this view, God gave man free will not to hold God responsible for evil. If we are not responsible for doing evil, then who is responsible?
Wolf argues that we don’t need alternative possibilities for freedom, as in most cases there will only be one of the alternative possibilities to be the best choice. Thus, he is content with Harry Frankfurt’s criticisms of the “principle of alternative probabilities”, designed to defend compatibilism against the absence of such possibilities in a deterministic world.
Wolf’s view is similar to that of Gary Watson, who goes all the way from Plato to Kant with the idea of ”practical reason”. We become mavericks when our choices match our values, not our desires or passions.