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. 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.

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


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

Crome, I., L. -. T. Wu, R. T. Rao, and P. Crome. “Introduction,” xxiv–xxv, 2014.

Flanagan, O., and S. Geisz. “Confucian Moral Sources.” In The Philosophical Challenge from China, edited by Brian 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 Fran O. 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., Aaron Ancell, Stephen Martin, and Gordon Steenbergen. “Empiricism and Normative Ethics What do the biology and the psychology of morality have to do with ethics?” In Evolved Morality: The Biology & Philosophy of Human Conscience, edited by Frans de Waal and PS Churchland et al. Brill, 2013.

Flanagan, B., and O. Flanagan. “Anguished Art: Coming Through the Dark to the Light the Hard Way.” In Blues-Philosophy for Everyone: Thinking Deep About Feeling Low, 75–83, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118153284.ch7. Full Text

Einstein, G., and O. Flanagan. “Sexual Identities and Narratives of Self.” In Narrative and Consciousness: Literature, Psychology and the Brain, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195140057.003.0011. Full Text

Fairweather, A. “Introduction: Naturalized virtue epistemology.” In Naturalizing Epistemic Virtue, 1–14, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139236348.001. Full Text

Flanagan, O. “My Non-Narrative, Non-Forensic Dasein: The First and Second Self.” In Self and Consciousness, edited by Jee Loo Liu and John Perry, 214–40. Cambridge University Press, 2011.


Jr, O Flanagan. “The View From the East Pole: Buddhist and Confucian Tolerance.” Edited by S. Clarke and R. Powell, 2013.

Flanagan, O. “Phenomenal and historical selves.” Grazer Philosophische Studien 84 (January 1, 2012): 217–40. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789401207904_011. Full Text

Flanagan Jr, O., A. Ancell, S. Martin, and G. Steenbergen. “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.

Paulson, Steve, Owen Flanagan, Paul Bloom, and Roy Baumeister. “Quid pro quo: the ecology of the self.Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1234 (October 2011): 29–43. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.06182.x. Full Text

Jr, O Flanagan. “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.

Flanagan, O., and Jing Hu. “HAN FEI ZI'S PHILOSOPHICAL PSYCHOLOGY: HUMAN NATURE, SCARCITY, AND THE NEO-DARWINIAN CONSENSUS.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 38, no. 2 (June 2011): 293–316. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6253.2011.01632.x. Full Text

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): 185–98.

Flanagan, O. “Neuroscience: Knowing and feeling.” Nature 469, no. 7329 (January 13, 2011): 160–61. https://doi.org/10.1038/469160a. Full Text

Flanagan, Owen. “I, hypocrite.” New Scientist 208, no. 2791 (December 18, 2010): 44–44. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0262-4079(10)63116-8. Full Text

Flanagan, O. “Neuroexistentialism, with David Barack.” Euramerica 40, no. 3 (September 2010).