Owen Flanagan

James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy

Contact Information
201E West Duke Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Duke Box 90743, Durham, NC 27708-0743
(919) 660-3056


Owen Flanagan was born and raised in Westchester County New York.  He received his Ph.D. in 1978 from Boston University.  He taught for sixteen years (1978-1993) at Wellesley College as Class of 1919 Professor of Philosophy.  In 1993 he came to Duke where he is James B. Duke University Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the Center for Comparative Philosophy.  He also holds appointments in Psychology and Neuroscience, and is a Faculty Fellow in Cognitive Neuroscience and a steering committee member of the "Philosophy, Arts, and Literature" (PAL) program, and an Affiliate of the Graduate Program in Literature.

His work is in Philosophy of Mind and Psychiatry, Ethics, Moral Psychology, Cross-Cultural Philosophy

His latest book is *The Geography of Morals: Varieties of Moral Possibility* (pub. October 2016; Oxford 2017) 

In 2016-2017 Flanagan is Berggruen Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University CA

In 2015-2016 Flanagan was Rockefeller Fellow at the National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park NC

In February 2014 he gave the 77th Aquinas Lecture at Marquette University.

In the Fall of 2013, he was distinguished research professor at City University Hong Kong and lectured widely in East Asia on 21st c. Moral Psychology & East Asian Philosophy

In 2012 he was the  Indian Council for Philosophical Research (ICPR) Annual Distinguished Lecturer on *Comparative Philosophy, Virtue, and Well-Being*

In 2006 he gave the Templeton research Lectures at USC in Los Angeles on *Human Flourishing in the Age of Mind Science.*

In 1998, he was recipient of the Romanell National Phi Beta Kappa award, given annually to one American philosopher for distinguished contributions to philosophy and the public understanding of philosophy.

In 1993-94 Flanagan was President of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology.

He has lectured on every continent except Antarctica, where however he has been. Besides enjoying writing articles, reviews, and contributing to colloquia, Flanagan has written the following books and edited several:

  • The Science of the Mind (MIT press, 1984; 2nd edition, 1991)
  • Identity, Character, and Morality: Essays in Moral Psychology, edited with Amelie O. Rorty (MIT Press, 1990)
  • Varieties of Moral Personality: Ethics and Psychological Realism (Harvard University Press, 1991),
  • Consciousness Reconsidered (MIT Press, 1992)
  • Self Expressions: Mind, Morals, and the Meaning of Life (Oxford University Press, 1996)
  • The Nature of Consciousness edited with Ned Block and Güven Güzeldere (MIT Press, 1998)
  • Dreaming Souls: Sleep, Dreams, and the Evolution of the Conscious Mind (Oxford University, 1999)
  • The Problem of the Soul: Two Visions of Mind and How to Reconcile Them*
  • The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World* (MIT Press 200
  • The Bodhisattva's Brain: Buddhism Naturalized* (October, 2011), MIT PRESS. 

Education & Training

Virtue Epistemology Naturalized. Edited by A Fairweather and O Flanagan. Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Fireman, GD, McVay, TE, and Flanagan, OJ. Narrative and Consciousness: Literature, Psychology and the Brain. March 22, 2012. Full Text

Fairweather, A. Naturalizing epistemic virtue. January 1, 2012. Full Text

Flanagan, O. The Bodhisattva’s Brain: Buddhism Naturalized. MIT Press, July 2011.

Flanagan, O. The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World. MIT Press, September 2007.

Flanagan, O. Almas Que Suenan. Oceano, 2003.

Flanagan, O. Dreaming Souls. Oxford University Press, 1999.

The Nature of Consciousness. Edited by N Block, G Guzeldere, and O Flanagan. MIT Press, 1998.


Flanagan, O, Sarkissian, H, and Wong, D. "Naturalizing Ethics." In The Blackwell Companion to Naturalism, 16-33. February 5, 2016. Full Text

Flanagan, O. "Foreword." ix-xiv. May 15, 2015. Full Text

Flanagan, O. "PERFORMING ONESELF." In Philosophy of Creativity,edited by E Samuels and SB Kaufmann. Oxford University Press, 2014.

Flanagan, O. "Phenomenal Authority: The Epistemic Authority of Alcoholics Anonymous." In The Nature of Addiction,edited by N Levy. Oxford University Press, 2014.

Flanagan, O, and Hu, J. "Han Fei Zi’s Philosophical Psychology: Human Nature, Scarcity, and the Neo-Darwinian Consensus." In The State of Nature in Comparative Political Thought: Western and Non-Western Perspectives,edited by JD Carlson and RA Fox. Lexington Books, 2014.

Flanagan, O. "*It Takes a Metaphysics, Raising Virtuous Buddhists*." In *Cultivating Virtue*,edited by N Snow. Oxford University Press, 2014.

Crome, I, Wu, L-T, Rao, RT, and Crome, P. "Introduction."xxiv-xxv. 2014.

Flanagan, O, and Geisz, S. "Confucian Moral Sources." In The Philosophical Challenge from China,edited by B Burya. MIT Press, 2013.

Flanagan, O. "The Social Epistemological Normalization of Contestable Narratives:* Stories of Just Deserts." In What Happened In and To Moral Philosophy in the Twentieth Century,edited by FO Rourke. Notre Dame University Press, 2013.

Flanagan, O. "The View From the East Pole: Buddhist and Confucian Tolerance." In Religion and Tolerance,edited by S Clarke and R Powell. Oxford University Press, 2013.


Flanagan, O. "BUDDHISM AND THE SCIENTIFIC IMAGE: REPLY TO CRITICS." Zygon® 49, no. 1 (March 2014): 242-258. Full Text

Flanagan, O. "The shame of addiction. (Published online)" Front Psychiatry 4 (October 8, 2013): 120-. (Review) Full Text

Flanagan, O. "Buddhism and The Scientific Image." Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science (2013). (Academic Article)

Flanagan, O, and Geisz, S. "Confucian Moral Sources." Edited by B Burya. (2013). (Academic Article)

Flanagan Jr, O, and Lane, T. "Neuroexistentialism, Eudaimonics, and Positive Illusions." SYNTHESE Philosophy Library: Studies in Epistemology, Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science (2013).

Jr, OF. "The View From the East Pole: Buddhist and Confucian Tolerance." Edited by S Clarke and R Powell. (2013). (Academic Article)

Flanagan, O. "Phenomenal and historical selves." Grazer Philosophische Studien 84 (December 1, 2012): 217-240.

Flanagan Jr, O, Ancell, A, Martin, S, and Steenbergen, G. "What do the Psychology and Biology of Morality have to do with Ethics?: Ethics as Human Ecology." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (2012).