Owen Flanagan Joins Virtue Scholars


Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life (VHML) has a new scholar: Philosopher Owen Flanagan of Duke University will join the scholars at their next two working group meetings. Flanagan and our project are already familiar with each other; he was a faculty member during the June 2016 Summer Seminar “Virtue & Happiness”.


When asked to comment about his participation in the project, Flanagan spoke about the project’s aims to pinpoint the place of the virtues in finding deep meaning in life. “My recent work is in cross-cultural philosophy.  Every tradition makes virtue a necessary condition of flourishing.  But the most prized virtues differ across traditions — Justice among liberals, compassion among Buddhists, filial piety among Confucians.  Working with wise souls who think about the place of virtue in a good life is an amazing and welcomed opportunity.”


Candace Vogler, one of the Principal Investigators (along with Jennifer A. Frey at the University of South Carolina) of  VHML, expressed her enthusiasm for Flanagan’s presence on the team of scholars. “Owen Flanagan is an extraordinarily astute and erudite philosopher trained in analytic philosophy but bringing deep and serious engagements with Buddhist, Hindu, and Confucian understandings of virtue.  He has vibrant interest in questions about how one should live and significant cross-disciplinary experience at the intersections of the humanities and the social and natural sciences.  He is an exemplary interlocutor—generous, patient, serious and cheerful, and always receptive to others’ views. He will strengthen our collaborative work in more ways than I can imagine.”


Owen Flanagan 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. In 2016-2017, Flanagan will be a Berggruen Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University.

Interview with Ryan Darr, Summer Seminar Participant

This post is part of a series of interviews with our incoming class for the “Virtue & Happiness” 2016 Summer Seminar. Ryan Darr is a Religious Ethics and Religious Studies doctoral student at Yale University.
Valerie Wallace: Where are you from?

Ryan Darr: I grew up in the small Midwestern city of Adrian, MI and spent six years after college in Chicago before moving to New Haven.

VW: Tell me about your research:

RD: I study theological ethics in the Christian tradition. My dissertation explores the theological origins of utilitarian moral philosophy in the 17th and 18th centuries. I am interested in understanding the emergence of modern moral philosophy in relation to its theological sources. I think this is important both for the sake of contemporary self-understanding and for opening space for religious contributions in contemporary moral debates. I also have particular interests in virtue ethics, moral formation, philosophy of action, and the psychology of character.

VW: What are you most looking forward to about this summer’s Virtue & Happiness seminar?

RD: I look forward to the interdisciplinary conversations. I find that conversations across disciplines tend to challenge my basic assumption and produce fruitful confusions.

VW: What are your non-academic interests?

RD: My primary activity beyond work is spending time with my two-year old daughter. Beyond that I like to run, play soccer, garden, and occasionally even read for fun.