The term ‘philosophy’ is of ancient Greek origin, meaning “love of wisdom” (philo sophos). Philosophy as a basis of intellectual inquiry can extend to any discipline or subject matter. What is distinctive of philosophy is its emphasis on reasoned reflection on the soundness of and interconnections among various kinds of thinking. This practice of reflective thought has a history that dates from the writings of the ancient Greeks, and it continues to play an essential role today in a broad range of intellectual discourse.

The Department of Philosophy at Duke has a strong faculty that is committed to excellence in both research and teaching. In a recent ranking of philosophy programs in the United States, the Department was recognized for particular research strength in the areas of philosophy of biology (rated as one of the two top programs in this area), philosophy of mind, political philosophy, applied ethics, philosophy of social science, 17th- and 18th-century philosophy and Chinese philosophy. Expertise in the Department also extends to other areas of the history of philosophy such as ancient philosophy, Kant, 20th-century analytic philosophy, and history and philosophy of science, as well as to philosophy of science, cognitive science, moral psychology, normative ethics, philosophy of law, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language, and philosophical logic.

Department Chair