Aaron Kostko Bio Photo

Aaron Kostko, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, CLI
+1 507 258 8211
(507) 258-8066


Ph.D., Philosophy, University of Cincinnati, 2013
M.A., Philosophy, University of Cincinnati, 2008
B.A., Philosophy, University of Akron, 2001

“Philosophy is not about getting the right answers; it's about learning to ask the right questions.”


I completed my Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Cincinnati. My areas of specialization include philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and philosophy of psychiatry. Prior to coming to UMR, I taught philosophy at Saginaw Valley State University and the University of Cincinnati.


I am responsible, along with Professors Wright and Mondy, for developing and teaching Introduction to Philosophy and Introduction to Ethics as well as advanced courses, such as Ethics in Medicine and the History and Philosophy of Science.
Many think that philosophy is relevant to health care only to the extent that it can help to address well-known biomedical ethical issues such as abortion, physician-assisted suicide, and stem cell research. While philosophers certainly have something to say about these important issues, the role of philosophy in the education of future health care professionals is much broader than this. Philosophy is a useful tool for analyzing questions and concepts that are central to the health care profession: What is a profession? What should be the aim(s) of the health care profession? If the aim is to promote health and eradicate disease, then what does it mean to be healthy or diseased? What are the standards of evidence upon which treatment decisions should be based? What obligations do health care professionals have to their patients and to society? How should conflicts between these obligations be handled? In addressing these fundamental questions, the role of philosophy to the education of future health care professionals is indispensable.


My philosophical research focuses on methodological, conceptual, and ethical issues that arise in psychiatric research, classification, and treatment.  In particular, I focus on the role of epistemic and non-epistemic value judgments on decisions about the selection of causal models, research designs, and data analysis techniques and their subsequent role in the construction of psychiatric classifications and treatment decisions.

My primary area of educational research focuses on identifying the extent to which students adopt various forms of relativism, the view that judgments about truth, knowledge, or morality are dependent upon cultural or individual standards.  This area of research involves a longitudinal study of the relationship between students' degree of relativistic beliefs, academic success, and performance on various critical thinking tasks.  I plan to use this data to help evaluate alternative pedagogical strategies for teaching relativism in introductory philosophy courses and, more generally, for teaching critical thinking skills to undergraduate students.  A second area of my educational research focuses on the relationship between student learning and student developmental outcomes.  This area of research involves a longitudinal study of the relationship between students' level of tolerance with ambiguity, academic success, and exposure to philosophy.

Select Publications 

Kostko, Aaron.  "Humanistic and Personalized Psychiatry Without Dualism."  Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology.  Forthcoming.

Kostko, Aaron & Bickle, John.  "Personalized Psychiatry and Scientific Causal Explanations: Two Accounts."  In Extraordinary Science: Psychiatriatic Classification and Research.  Forthcoming.  Cambridge: MIT Press.

Kostko, Aaron.  "A New Low for Terrorism Studies?: The Relevance of Neurobiology to the Study of Terrorism."  In The Neurobiology of Social Disruption: Intersectional Perspectives on Psychiatry, Pathology and Society,  Giordano, Jotterand (ed.).  Forthcoming.  Arlington, VA: Potomac Institute Press.

Kostko, Aaron.  "Instrumentalism and Intervening Variables"  in The Encyclopedia of Clinical Psychology,  R. Cautin, S. Lilienfield (eds.).  2015.  Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

Kostko, Aaron.  "Behaviorism and Eliminativism"  in The Encyclopedia of Clinical Psychology,  R. Cautin, S. Lilienfield (eds.).  2015.  Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

Kostko, Aaron (primary author) & Bickle, John.  "Social Behaviors and Brain Interventions: New Strategies for Reductionists."  In A Cartography of the Mind: Philosophy and Psychology in Intersection.  M. De Caro, F. Ferretti, and M. Marraffa (eds.).  2010  pgs. 309-317.  Dordrecht: Springer