Allen Edward Buchanan

Allen Edward Buchanan

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor Emeritus 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

Selected Grants

The Evolution of Moral Progress awarded by National Endowment for the Humanities (Principal Investigator). 2016 - 2018

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

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

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

Buchanan, Allen. Human Rights, Legitimacy, and the Use of Force. Oxford University Press, 2009.

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

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


Buchanan, A., and G. Sreenivasan. “Taking international legality seriously: A methodology for human rights.” In Human Rights: Moral or Political?, 211–29, 2018. Full Text

Buchanan, A. “Institutional legitimacy.” In Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy, 4:53–78, 2018. Full Text

Buchanan, A., T. Cole, and R. O. Keohane. “Justice in the Diffusion of Innovation.” In Political Theory Without Borders: Philosophy, Politics and Society 9, 133–61, 2015. Full Text

Buchanan, A., T. Cole, and R. O. Keohane. “Justice in the Diffusion of Innovation.” In Global Justice and Bioethics, 2015. Full Text

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

Buchanan, A., and R. Powell. “Fidelity to constitutional democracy and to the rule of international law.” In Routledge Handbook of International Law, 249–67, 2009.

Buchanan, A., and R. O. Keohane. “The legitimacy of global governance institutions.” In Legitimacy, Justice and Public International Law, 29–57, 2009. Full Text

Buchanan, A. “Secession and nationalism.” In A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy, 755–66, 2008. Full Text

Buchanan, A. “Social moral epistemology and the role of bioethicists.” In The Ethics of Bioethics: Mapping the Moral Landscape, 288–96, 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., and R. Powell. “Précis of the Evolution of Moral Progress: A Biocultural Theory.” Analyse Und Kritik 41, no. 2 (November 1, 2019): 183–93. Full Text

Buchanan, A., and R. Powell. “Reply to Comments.” Analyse Und Kritik 41, no. 2 (November 1, 2019): 287–300. Full Text

Buchanan, A., and R. Powell. “De-moralization as emancipation: Liberty, progress, and the evolution of invalid moral norms.” Social Philosophy and Policy 34, no. 2 (January 1, 2017): 108–35. Full Text

Buchanan, A., and R. Powell. “Toward a naturalistic theory of moral progress.” Ethics 126, no. 4 (July 1, 2016): 983–1014. Full Text

Buchanan, A. “Self-determination, revolution, and intervention.” Ethics 126, no. 2 (January 1, 2016): 447–53.

Buchanan, A. “Reply to Fenton, Fleck, Powers and Voigt.” Jurisprudence 6, no. 1 (January 1, 2015): 151–55. Full Text

Buchanan, A. “The ethics of revolution and its implications for the ethics of intervention.” Philosophy and Public Affairs 41, no. 4 (September 1, 2013): 291–323. Full Text

Buchanan, Allen, and Maureen C. Kelley. “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. “Human Rights: A Plea for Taking the Law and Institutions Seriously.” In Ethics and International Affairs, 30:501–10, 2016. Full Text

Buchanan, A., and R. O. Keohane. “Toward a drone accountability regime: A rejoinder.” In Ethics and International Affairs, 29:67–70, 2015. Full Text

Buchanan, A., and R. O. Keohane. “Toward a Drone Accountability regime.” In Ethics and International Affairs, 29:15–37, 2015. Full Text

Buchanan, A. “The Terms of Secession.” In Proceedings of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Social Science, 1993.

Buchanan, A. “Marx on Progress and History.” In Proceedings of the Eleventh Wittgenstein Symposium, Kirchberg, Austria, 1987.

Buchanan, A. “Kant’s Second Analogy.” In Proceedings of the International Congress on Kant, 1974.