Max Khan Hayward


About Me

I am an Assitant Professor of Philosophy at Bowling Green State University. I recently completed my PhD in Philosophy at Columbia University. The core of my work is in Ethics, Metaethics and Moral Psychology, but my project crosses the boundaries of many subfields in philosophy where values and normativity are central, including Rationality, Epistemology, Philosophy of Mind, and Political Philosophy. I am also interested in the History of Philosophy, especially the British Empiricists and the American Pragmatists.

Beyond my research, I'm passionate about bringing philosophy to a wider audience, and promoting diversity within the academy.

I publish under the name "Max Khan Hayward" - "Khan" is my mother's surname, although not officially part of my name. I intend this as a small tribute to her and her Pakistani heritage, which seems important to me in these times of anti-immigrant and Islamophobic attitudes. But it's also fine to call me Max Hayward.


My project advances three claims. First, I argue for a mind-dependent, humanistic understanding of ethical normativity. The view I advance is a form of constructivism, drawing on the pragmatist and sentimentalist traditions in ethics. Whilst many philosophers assume that there is a clean division between ethics and metaethics, I argue that we should adopt this view on first-order moral grounds.

Second, I hold that normativity in apparently distinct areas is grounded in ethical normativity - ethics is first philosophy. Prudential, Rational and Epistemic norms, for example, have their basis in the shared practical interests of mutually sympathetic agents just as do ethical norms. In Philosophy of Mind, I argue for an imperativist account of the felt goodness or badness of affective experiences. I argue that the (un)pleasantness of such experiences is intrinsic without having to suppose that they ground objective norms of prudence.

Thirdly, I suggest that seeing values as collectively invented opens up new approaches for practical normative philosophy. I am particularly interested in the effects of moral-political polarisation and economic inequality on the sympathetic mechanisms which, according to me, undergird the development of ethical norms.

Here is a brief statement of my current and future research.


Book Review

Other Papers

Under Review


As Instructor (designed own syllabus):

As Teaching Assistant:

Outreach, Diversity and Public Philosophy

I co-founded Rethink: A Philosophy Community Outreach Project, which won the American Philosophical Association's Prize for Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy Programs in 2015. Rethink brings graduate students and faculty from five New York Universities to facilitate philosophical discussion workshops in partnership with several community organisations in New York, serving various disadvantaged groups - court involved youth from Harlem and the South Bronx, women who are survivors of domestic violence and sex trafficking, and teenagers from families harmed by domestic violence.

I also co-founded Columbia's chapter of the Minorities and Philosophy (MAP) initiative. MAP strives to promote diversity in Philosophy by creating more pathways into academia for students of minority backgrounds.

I am a strong believer in the value of public philosophy. Here is an interview about philosophy and Rethink at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, and here is a short essay about liberalism, relativism and immigration that I wrote for Aeon.