Owen Flanagan

Owen Flanagan

James B. Duke Distinguished 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. 

Flanagan, O. “Performing Oneself.” In Philosophy and Creativity, edited by Elliot Paul and Scott Barry 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. “Moral Science? Still Metaphysical After All These Years.” In Moral Personality, Identity and Character: Explorations in Moral Psychology, edited by Darcia Narvaez and Daniel K. Lapsley, 52–78. Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Flanagan, O. “Ethical expressions: Why moralists scowl, frown and smile.” In The Cambridge Companion to Darwin, 413–34, 2009. https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL9780521884754.018. Full Text

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 Patrick Grim. VIP Press, 2009.

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

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

Flanagan, O., H. Sarkissian, and D. Wong. “"What is the Nature of Morality?" A Response to Casebeer, Railton, and Ruse.” edited by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, 1:45–52. MIT Press, 2007.

Flanagan, O., H. Sarkissian, and D. Wong. “Naturalizing Ethics.” In *Moral Psychology: The Evolution of Morality*, edited by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, 1:1–26. MIT Press, 2007.


Flanagan, Owen, and Robert Anthony Williams. “What does the modularity of morals have to do with ethics? Four moral sprouts plus or minus a few.Topics in Cognitive Science 2, no. 3 (July 2010): 430–53. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1756-8765.2009.01076.x. Full Text

Flanagan, O. “Can do attitudes: Some positive illusions are not misbeliefs.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32, no. 6 (December 1, 2009): 519–20. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X09991439. Full Text

Flanagan, O. “The Literate Ape.” New Scientist, November 23, 2009.

Flanagan, O. “The Ego Tunnel.” New Scientist, March 21, 2009.

Flanagan, Owen. “One Enchanted Being: Neuroexistentialism & Meaning.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 44, no. 1 (March 2009): 41–49. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9744.2009.00984.x. Full Text

Flanagan, O. “Where in the World is the Mind?New Scientist 201 (January 17, 2009): 42–43.

Flanagan, O. “Your mind is more than your brain.” New Scientist 201, no. 2691 (January 14, 2009): 42–43. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0262-4079(09)60167-6. Full Text

Flanagan, O. “The Structures of Meaningful Life Stories.” Argentinian Journal of Philosophy and Psychology, 2009.

Flanagan, O. “Moral contagion and logical persuasion in the Mozi.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 35, no. 3 (September 1, 2008): 473–91. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6253.2008.00492.x. Full Text

Flanagan, O. “The Neural Pathway to the White House.” The New Scientist, July 2008.