Allen Edward Buchanan

James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy

Contact Information
203A West Duke Building, Durham, NC 27708
Duke Box 90743, Durham, NC 27708-0245
(919) 383-0449


This semester (Fall 2016) I’m teaching two courses at Duke: Human Rights in Theory and Practice and Social and Political Thought (an introduction to some of the main issues in social and political philosophy).

Russell Powell and I have just completed a solid draft of a book ms., The Evolution of Moral Progress.  It builds on several published or about to be published articles on the topic of moral progress, including “Evolutionary Explanations of Morality and Their Limitations” and “Toward a Naturalistic Theory of Moral Progress” (both of which have appeared in Ethics), “Proper De-Moralization as Emancipation and the Persistence of Invalid Moral Norms” (forthcoming in Social Philosophy & Policy), “The Reflexive Epistemology of Human Rights” (forthcoming in a volume on social epistemology, edited by Miranda Fricker), and “Evolution and Moral Enhancement” (in Enhancing Ourselves, edited by Stephen Clarke and Julian Savulescu).

Powell and I are also working on a book on evolution and ideology, as a sequel to The Evolution of Moral Progress.

As usual, I am spending the Fall in Durham, NC and the winter and spring in Tucson, Arizona, where I will concentrate on research and on my ongoing humanitarian work as a member of Samaritans of Tucson. I go on Samaritan patrols on the border trails at least once a week, backpacking in water, medical supplies, and food to help people struggling through the Sonoran desert. It’s nice to be able to do something about human rights rather than just writing about them.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1975

  • B.A., Columbia University 1970

The Evolution of Moral Progress awarded by National Endowment for the Humanities (Principal Investigator). 2016 - 2017

Buchanan, A. The Heart of Human Rights. Oxford University Press, December 2013.

Buchanan, A. Better than Human: The Promise and Perils of Enhancing Ourselves. Oxford University Press, September 2, 2011.

Buchanan, A. Beyond Humanity? The Ethics of Biomedical Enhancement. Oxford University Press (OUP), February 2011.

Buchanan, A. Moral progress and human rights. January 1, 2011. Full Text

Buchanan, A. Human Rights, Legitimacy, and the Use of Force. Oxford University Press, December 14, 2009.

Buchanan, A. Justice and Health Care: Selected Essays. Oxford University Press (OUP), 2009.

Helfer, L, Henkin, L, Cleveland, S, Neuman, G, and Orentlicher, D. Human Rights. Foundation Press, 2009. (Monograph)

Self-Determination and Secession. Edited by A Buchanan and S Macedo. New York University Press, 2003.


Buchanan, A, Cole, T, and Keohane, RO. "Justice in the Diffusion of Innovation." In Political Theory Without Borders: Philosophy, Politics and Society 9, 133-161. October 27, 2015. Full Text

Buchanan, A, Cole, T, and Keohane, RO. "Justice in the Diffusion of Innovation." In Global Justice and Bioethics. May 27, 2015. Full Text

Hessler, K, and Buchanan, A. "Equality, Democracy, and the Human Right to Health Care." In Medicine and Social Justice: Essays on the Distribution of Health Care. September 13, 2012. Full Text

Buchanan, A, and Keohane, RO. "The legitimacy of global governance institutions." In Legitimacy, Justice and Public International Law, 29-57. January 1, 2009. Full Text

Buchanan, A. "Social moral epistemology and the role of bioethicists." In The Ethics of Bioethics: Mapping the Moral Landscape, 288-296. December 1, 2007.

Buchanan, A. "Secession and the Problem of Its Legitimacy." In Separatism (conference volume, Forum on War and Peace, University of Florence). 2006.

Buchanan, A. "Justifying Preventive War." In Preemptive War: Military Action and Moral Justification,edited by H Shue and DA Rodin. Oxford University Press, 2006.

Buchanan, A. "Bioethics and Social Epistemology." In The Ethics of Bioethics,edited by L Eckenweiler. Oxford University Press, 2006.

Buchanan, A. "Uncoupling Secession From Nationalism and Itnrastate Autonoly From Secession." In Negotiating Self-Determination,edited by H Hannum. Routledge, 2006.

Buchanan, A. "Secession, Self-Determination, and Identity." In Identity and Self-Determination,edited by I Primoratz and A Pavkovic. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2006.


Buchanan, A, and Powell, R. "Toward a Naturalistic Theory of Moral Progress." Ethics 126, no. 4 (July 2016): 983-1014. Full Text

Buchanan, A. "Self-determination, revolution, and intervention." Ethics 126, no. 2 (January 1, 2016): 447-453.

Buchanan, A, and Powell, R. "The Limits of Evolutionary Explanations of Morality and Their Implications for Moral Progress." Ethics 126, no. 1 (October 2015): 37-67. Full Text

BUCHANAN, ALLEN. "The Ethics of Revolution and Its Implications for the Ethics of Intervention." Philosophy & Public Affairs 41, no. 4 (September 2013): 291-323. Full Text

Buchanan, A, and Kelley, MC. "Biodefence and the production of knowledge: rethinking the problem." Journal of medical ethics 39, no. 4 (April 2013): 195-204. Full Text

Buchanan, A. "The open-ended normativity of the ethical." Analyse und Kritik 2012, no. 1 (August 24, 2012): 81-94.

Buchanan, A. "Still unconvinced, but still tentative: a reply to DeGrazia." Journal of medical ethics 38, no. 3 (March 2012): 140-141. Full Text

BUCHANAN, ALLEN, COLE, TONY, and KEOHANE, ROBERTO. "Justice in the Diffusion of Innovation." Journal of Political Philosophy 19, no. 3 (September 2011): 306-332. Full Text

Buchanan, A. "Cognitive enhancement and education." Theory and Research in Education 9, no. 2 (July 1, 2011): 145-162. Full Text

Buchanan, A. "Reciprocal legitimation: Reframing the problem of international legitimacy." Politics, Philosophy & Economics 10, no. 1 (February 1, 2011): 5-19. Full Text


Buchanan, A, and Keohane, RO. "Toward a Drone Accountability Regime." 2015. Full Text

Buchanan, A. "The Terms of Secession." 1993.

Buchanan, A. "Marx on Progress and History." 1987.

Buchanan, A. "Kant’s Second Analogy." 1974.