Susan R. Wolf

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Susan R. Wolf (born 1952) is a moral philosopher and philosopher of action who is the Edna J. Koury Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her husband, Douglas MacLean, is also a philosopher teaching at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is a Fellow, since 1999, of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences[1] and, since 2006, of the American Philosophical Society,[2] and received a Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award in the Humanities in 2002.[3]

Prior academics[edit]

Wolf earned a BA from Yale University in philosophy and mathematics and a PhD in philosophy from Princeton University with a dissertation directed by Thomas Nagel.

Before taking up her current position, Wolf taught at Harvard University, the University of Maryland, and the Johns Hopkins University.


Her book Freedom Within Reason argues for a view of free will as the ability to do what one reasonably thinks is the right thing. This allows a deterministic universe to nevertheless contain responsibility and the feeling of autonomy for us. Wolf has also written on the topic of moral luck, suggesting a reconciliation between the rationalist and irrationalist positions. She has also published influential work on the demandingness of morality. In this area her paper "Moral Saints" has been particularly influential, attacking the idea that a morally perfect person is actually an attractive ethical ideal. Along with Philippa Foot and Bernard Williams, she has challenged the overriding of morality in practical reasoning.

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