About Us

What is Philosophy?

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.

Our Department

Duke's Department of Philosophy is a vibrant intellectual community of nearly 20 faculty, about 30 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, several staff members and the hundreds of undergraduates who take our courses each semester. Our faculty currently hold more than $3.1 million in extramural grants from federal and private sources, including the John Templeton Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Office of Naval Research. 

Our faculty have special expertise in a range of active research areas, including applied ethics (from business ethics to bioethics to medical ethics), political philosophy, the philosophy of biology, Chinese Philosophy, philosophy of mind and of neuroscience, epistemology, moral psychology, philosophy of economics, ancient philosophy and early modern history and philosophy of science.