Owen Flanagan

Owen Flanagan

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Philosophy

External Address: 
201E West Duke Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Duke Box 90743, Durham, NC 27708-0743
Office Hours: 
On leave 2016-2017


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. 

Caruso, G., and O. Flanagan. Neuroexistentialism: Meaning, morals, and purpose in the age of neuroscience. 2018, pp. 1–374. Scopus, doi:10.1093/oso/9780190460723.001.0001. Full Text

Flanagan, O. Foreword: Cross-cultural philosophy and the moral project. 2017, pp. xi–xvii. Scopus, doi:10.1093/oso/9780190499778.001.0001. Full Text

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

Fireman, G. D., et al. Narrative and Consciousness: Literature, Psychology and the Brain. 2012, pp. 1–264. Scopus, doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195140057.001.0001. Full Text

Fairweather, A. Naturalizing epistemic virtue. 2012, pp. 1–272. Scopus, doi:10.1017/CBO9781139236348. Full Text

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

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


Flanagan, O., and W. Zhao. “The self and its good vary cross-culturally: A dozen self-variations and Chinese familial selves.” Self, Culture and Consciousness: Interdisciplinary Convergences on Knowing and Being, 2018, pp. 287–301. Scopus, doi:10.1007/978-981-10-5777-9_17. Full Text

Flanagan, O., and G. Caruso. “Neuroexistentialism: Third-wave existentialism.” Neuroexistentialism: Meaning, Morals, and Purpose in the Age of Neuroscience, 2018, pp. 1–22. Scopus, doi:10.1093/oso/9780190460723.003.0001. Full Text

Gyal, P., and O. Flanagan. “The role of pain in buddhism: The conquest of suffering.” The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Pain, 2017, pp. 288–96. Scopus, doi:10.4324/9781315742205. Full Text

Tekin, Ş., et al. “Against the Drug Cure Model: Addiction, Identity, and Pharmaceuticals.” Philosophy and Medicine, vol. 122, 2017, pp. 221–36. Scopus, doi:10.1007/978-94-024-0979-6_13. Full Text

Flanagan, O. “Negative dialectics in comparative philosophy: The case of Buddhist free will quietism.” Buddhist Perspectives on Free Will: Agentless Agency?, 2016, pp. 59–71. Scopus, doi:10.4324/9781315668765. Full Text

Flanagan, O., et al. “Naturalizing Ethics.” The Blackwell Companion to Naturalism, 2016, pp. 16–33. Scopus, doi:10.1002/9781118657775.ch2. Full Text

Flanagan, O., and H. Wallace. “William James and the problem of consciousness.” Consciousness and the Great Philosophers: What Would They Have Said about Our Mind-Body Problem?, 2016, pp. 152–61. Scopus, doi:10.4324/9781315678023. Full Text

Flanagan, O., and K. Jackson. “Justice, care, and gender: The Kohlberg-Gilligan debate revisited.” An Ethic of Care: Feminist and Interdisciplinary Perspectives, 2016, pp. 69–84. Scopus, doi:10.4324/9780203760192-13. Full Text

Flanagan, O. “PERFORMING ONESELF.” Philosophy of Creativity, edited by E. Samuels and S. B. Kaufmann, Oxford University Press, 2014.

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


Flanagan, O., and J. Hu. “Han fei zi’s philosophical psychology: Human nature, scarcity, and the Neo-Darwinian consensus.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy, vol. 38, no. 2, Jan. 2021, pp. 293–316. Scopus, doi:10.1163/15406253-03802010. Full Text

Flanagan, O. “Moral contagion and logical persuasion in the Mozi 1.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy, vol. 35, no. 3, Jan. 2021, pp. 473–91. Scopus, doi:10.1163/15406253-03503008. Full Text

Flanagan, O. “The disunity of addictive cravings.” Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology, vol. 27, no. 3, Sept. 2020, pp. 243–46. Scopus, doi:10.1353/ppp.2020.0030. Full Text

Flanagan, O. “Is Oneness an Over-belief?Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, vol. 99, no. 2, Sept. 2019, pp. 508–13. Scopus, doi:10.1111/phpr.12631. Full Text

Tononi, G., and O. Flanagan. “Philosophy and Science Dialogue: Consciousness.” Frontiers of Philosophy in China, vol. 13, no. 3, Jan. 2018, pp. 332–48. Scopus, doi:10.3868/s030-007-018-0026-1. Full Text

Flanagan, O. “Addiction Doesn’t Exist, But it is Bad for You.” Neuroethics, vol. 10, no. 1, Apr. 2017, pp. 91–98. Scopus, doi:10.1007/s12152-016-9298-z. Full Text

Flanagan, O. “Does yoga induce metaphysical hallucinations? Interdisciplinarity at the edge: Comments on Evan Thompson's waking, dreaming, being.” Philosophy East and West, vol. 66, no. 3, July 2016, pp. 952–58. Scopus, doi:10.1353/pew.2016.0074. Full Text

Flanagan, O. “Buddhism and the scientific image: Reply to critics.” Zygon, vol. 49, no. 1, Jan. 2014, pp. 242–58. Scopus, doi:10.1111/zygo.12080. Full Text

Flanagan, Owen. “The shame of addiction.Frontiers in Psychiatry, vol. 4, Oct. 2013, p. 120. Epmc, doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00120. Full Text


Flanagan, O. “Deconstructing dreams: The spandrels of sleep.” Toward a Science of Consciousness, edited by S. R. Hameroff et al., M I T PRESS, 1996, pp. 67–88.