Owen Flanagan

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

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

Flanagan, O. Self Expressions: Mind, Morals and the Meaning of Life. Oxford University Press, 1996.

Flanagan, O. Consciousness Reconsidered. MIT Press, 1992.

Flanagan, O. Varieties of Moral Personality: Ethics and Psychological Realism. Harvard University Press, 1991.

Identity, Character, and Morality: Essays in Moral Psychology. Edited by O Flanagan and AO Rorty. MIT Press, 1990.

Flanagan, O. The Science of the Mind. MIT Press, 1984.


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. "My Non-Narrative, Non-Forensic Dasein: The First and Second Self." In Self and Consciousness,edited by JL Liu and J Perry, 214-240. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Flanagan, O. "Performing Oneself." In Philosophy and Creativity,edited by E Paul and SB Kaufmann. Oxford University Press, 2011.

Flanagan, O. "What is it Like to be an Addict?." In Addiction and Responsibility,edited by G Graham and G Poland. MIT Press, 2010.

Flanagan, O. "Neuro-Eudaimonics, or Buddhists Lead Neuroscientists to the Seat of Happiness." In Oxford Handbook on Philosophy and Neuroscience,edited by J Bickle. 2009.

Flanagan, O. "Five Questions." In Mind & Consciousness,edited by P Grim. VIP Press, 2009.

Flanagan, O. "“Buddhist Persons & Eudaimonia Buddha”." In Routledge Companion to Philosophical Psychology,edited by J Symons. 2009.

Flanagan, O. "Moral Science? Still Metaphysical After All These Years." In Moral Personality, Identity and Character: Explorations in Moral Psychology,edited by D Narvaez and DK Lapsley, 52-78. Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Flanagan, O. "Where is the Happiness." In Oxford Companion to Philosophy and Neuroscience. Oxford University Press (OUP), 2008.

Flanagan, O, Sarkissian, H, and Wong, D. ""What is the Nature of Morality?" A Response to Casebeer, Railton, and Ruse.",edited by Sinnott-Armstrong, W, 45-52.: MIT Press, 2007.


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).

Jr, OF. "HAN FEI ZI’S PHILOSOPHICAL PSYCHOLOGY: HUMAN NATURE, SCARCITY, AND THE NEO- DARWINIAN CONSENSUS with Jing Hu." Journal of Chinese Philosophy 38 (June 2011): 293-316. (Academic Article)


Flanagan, O. "Wittgenstein's Ethical Nonnaturalism: An Interpretation of Tractatus 6.41-47 and the 'Lecture on Ethics'." American Philosophical Quarterly 48, no. 2 (April 2011): 185-198.

Flanagan, O. "Neuroscience: Knowing and feeling." Nature 469, no. 7329 (January 13, 2011): 160-161. Full Text

Flanagan, O. "Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain." NATURE 469, no. 7329 (January 13, 2011): 160-161. Full Text

Paulson, S, Flanagan, O, Bloom, P, and Baumeister, R. "Quid pro quo: the ecology of the self." PERSPECTIVES ON THE SELF: CONVERSATIONS ON IDENTITY AND CONSCIOUSNESS 1234 (2011): 29-43. Full Text

Flanagan, O. "I, hypocrite." NEW SCIENTIST 208, no. 2791 (December 18, 2010): 44-44. (Review) Full Text

Flanagan, O. "Neuroexistentialism, with David Barack." EURAMERICA 40, no. 3 (September 2010).