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

Flanagan, O. "The Neurobiology of Sexual Self-Consciousness: Mind and the Interplay of Brain and Body." In Narrative and Consciousness: Literature, Psychology, and the Brain,edited by G Fireman, T McVay, and O Flanagan. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Flanagan, O. "Emotional Expressions: Why Moralists Scowl, Frown, and Smile." In The Cambridge Companion to Darwin,edited by G Radick and J Hodges. Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Polger, T, and Flanagan, O. "Is Consciousness an Adaptation?." In Evolving Consciousness,edited by G Mulhauser. Johns Benjamin, Amsterdam, 2001.

Polger, T, and Flanagan, O. "Natural Questions to Natural Answers." In Biology Meets Psychology: Constraints, Connections, Conjectures. MIT Press, 2001.

Flanagan, O, and Dryden, D. "Consciousness and the Mind." In Invitation to Cognitive Science,edited by S Sternberg. MIT Press, 1997.

Flanagan, O. "Consciousness as a Pragmatist Views It." In The Cambridge Companion to William James,edited by RA Putnam. Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Flanagan, O. "How to Study Consciousness Empirically: The Case of Dreams." In Consciousness, Cognition, and Computation,edited by E Rolls. Oxford University Press, 1997.

Flanagan, O, and Guzeldere, G. "Consciousness: A Philosophical Tour." In Consciousness, Cognition, and Computation,edited by E Rolls. Oxford University Press, 1997.

Flanagan, O. "Moral Confidence: Three Cheers for Naturalistic Ethics." In In The Face of Facts: Moral Inquiry in American Scholarship,edited by Westbrook, Bethe-Elstain, and Fox. Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Flanagan, O. "Moral Network." In The Churchlands and Their Critics,edited by R McCauley. Basil Blackwell, 1996.


Flanagan, O. "Moral Contagion and Logical Persuasion in the Mozi." Journal of Chinese Philosophy (2008): 473-491.

Flanagan, O, Sarkissian, H, and Wong, D. ""What is the Nature of Morality?" A Response to Casebeer, Railton, and Ruse." Edited by W Sinnott-Armstrong. 1 (2007): 45-52.

Fader, R, Flanagan, O, and et. al., . "Moral Issues of Human-Non-Human Primate Neural Grafting." Science 309, no. 5733 (July 15, 2005): 385-386.

Greene, M, Schill, K, Takahashi, S, Bateman-House, A, Beauchamp, T, Bok, H, Cheney, D, Coyle, J, Deacon, T, Dennett, D, Donovan, P, Flanagan, O, Goldman, S, Greely, H, Martin, L, Miller, E, Mueller, D, Siegel, A, Solter, D, Gearhart, J, McKhann, G, and Faden, R. "Moral issues of human-non-human primate neural grafting." SCIENCE 309, no. 5733 (July 15, 2005): 385-386. Full Text

Flanagan, O. "The colour of happiness." New Scientist 178, no. 2396 (December 1, 2003): 44-.

Flanagan, O. "Emotional Expressions." Edited by Radick and Hodge. (2003). (Academic Article)

Polger, T, and Flanagan, O. "A decade of teleofunctionalism: Lycan's consciousness and consciousness and experience." Minds and Machines 11, no. 1 (February 1, 2001): 113-126. Full Text

Flanagan, O. "Dreaming is not an adaptation." BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES 23, no. 6 (December 2000): 936-+. Full Text

Hardcastle, VG, and Flanagan, O. "Multiplex vs. multiples selves: Distinguishing dissociative disorders." MONIST 82, no. 4 (October 1999): 645-657.

Jr, OF, and Guzeldere, G. ""Consciousness: A Philosophical Tour"." Edited by E Rolls. (1997). (Academic Article)