Allen Buchanan

About Allen Buchanan

Allen E Buchanan was the James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Duke University, as well as Investigator at the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy (Duke) and Distinguished Research Fellow (Oxford Uehiro Centre).

My main research is in Political Philosophy, Philosophy of International Law, Bioethics, Social Moral Epistemology, and, most recently the scope and limits of evolutionary explanations of changes that human morlaities undergo over time. 

My career has combined shcolarly work with active engagement with policy-makers at the highest levels, nationally and inter-nationally. For example, I have served as staff member or consultant for all of the U.S. national Bioesthics Commissions since 1981, and have consulted with the High Comissioner on National Minorities of the Council of Europe, the Canadian Government, the Transistional Government of Ethiopia, the Government of Catalonia, and the U.S. State Department on issues of self-determination and secession. I have also served as a member of the Advisory Council for the National Human Genome Research Institute and as a member of the Secretary for Health and Human Serviecs Advisory Committee on Genetic Testing. 

My most recent book, Our Moral Fate: Evolution and the Escape from Tibalism, is forthcoming with MIT Press in 2020. My current research focuses on the hypothesis that from the earliest human societies to the present, there has been an on-going co-evolutionary arms race between domination and counter-domination and that this struggle has been a major driver of the evolution of morality and of institutions. 

Selected Books

  • 2020 (forthcoming). Our Moral Fate: Evolution and the Escape From Tribalism, Cambridge: MIT Press.
  • 2018. Institutionalizing the Just War, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • 2018. The Evolution of Morality: A Biocultural Theory, Oxford: Oxford University Press. (with Russell Powell).
  • 2013. The Heart of Human Rights, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • 2011. Beyond Humanity? The Ethics of Biomedical Enhancement, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • 2011. Better Than Human: The Perils and Promise of Enhancing Ourselves, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • 2010. Human Rights, Legitimacy, and the Use of Force: Selected Essays, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • 2009. Justice and Health Care: Selected Essays, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • 2003. Justice, Legitimacy, and Self-Determination: Moral Foundations for International Law, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • 2000. From Chance to Choice: Genetics & Justice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (with Dan W. Brock, Norman Daniels, and Daniel Wikler).
  • 1989. Deciding for Others: The Ethics of Surrogate Decision-Making, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (with Dan W.  Brock).
  • 1985. Ethics, Efficiency and the Market, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Selected Articles

  • 2017. “Revolution” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zlata,
  • 2017. “Secession” (updated from 2013) The Stanford Online Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zlata,
  • 2017. “De-Moralization as Emancipation: Liberty, Progress, and the Evolution of Invalid Moral Norms” Social Philosophy & Policy 34(2): 108-135. (with Russell Powell).
  • 2016. “Human Rights: A Plea for Taking the Law and Institutions Seriously” Ethics and International Affairs 30(4): 501-510.
  • 2016. “Toward a Naturalistic Theory of Moral Progress” Ethics 126(4): 983-1014. (with Russell Powell).
  • 2016. “Self-Determination, Revolution, and Intervention” Ethics 126(2): 447-473.
  • 2015. “Limitations of Evolutionary Explanations of Morality and Their Implications for Moral Progress” Ethics 126(1): 37-67. (with Russell Powell).
  • 2015. “Reply to Fenton, Fleck, Powers, and Voigt” Jurisprudence 6(1): 151-155.
  • 2015. “Toward a Drone Accountability Regime” Ethics & International Affairs 29(1): 15-37. (with Robert O. Keohane).
  • 2013. “The Ethics of Revolution and Its Implications for Intervention” Philosophy & Public Affairs 41(4): 291-323.
  • 2012. “Biodefence and the Production of Knowledge: Rethinking the Problem” The Journal of Medical Ethics 39(4): 195-204. (with Maureen Kelley).
  • 2012. “Still Unconvinced, But Still Tentative: A Reply to DeGrazia” The Journal of Medical Ethics 38: 140-141.
  • 2011. “Precommitment Regimes for Intervention: Supplementing the Security Council” Ethics & International Affairs 25(1): 41-63. (with Robert O. Keohane).
  • 2011. “Reciprocal Legitimation: Reframing the Problem of International Legitimacy” Politics, Philosophy & Economics 10(1): 5-19.
  • 2011. “Justice in the Diffusion of Innovations” Journal of Political Philosophy 19(3): 306-332. (with Robert O. Keohane and Anthony Cole).
  • 2011. “Cognitive Enhancement and Education” Theory and Research in Education 9(2): 145-162.
  • 2010. “The Egalitarianism of Human Rights” Ethics 120(4): 679-710.
  • 2009. “Moral Status and Human Enhancement” Philosophy & Public Affairs 37(4): 346-381.
  • 2009. “Philosophy and Public Policy: A Role for Social Moral Epistemology” Journal of Applied Philosophy 26(3): 276-290.
  • 2009. “Human Nature and Enhancement” Bioethics 23(3): 141-250.
  • 2008. “Human Rights and the Legitimacy of the International Legal Order” Legal Theory 14(1): 39-70.
  • 2008. “Enhancement and the Ethics of Development” Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 18(1): 1-34.
  • 2008. “Survey Article: Constitutional Democracy and International Law: Are They Compatible?” The Journal of Political Philosophy 16(3): 325-349. (with Russell Powell).
  • 2007. “Institutions, Beliefs, and Ethics: Eugenics as a Case Study” The Journal of Political Philosophy 15(1): 22-45.
  • 2006. “Democracy and the Commitment to International Law” Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law 34(2): 305-332.
  • 2006. “The Legitimacy of Global Governance Institutions” Ethics & International Relations 20(4): 405-437. (with Robert O. Keohane).
  • 2006. “Institutionalizing the Just War” Philosophy & Public Affairs 34(1): 2-38.
  • 2005. “Justifying Preventive Force: A Reply to Steven Lee” Ethics & International Affairs 19(2): 109-112. (with Robert O. Keohane).
  • 2006. “Responsibility for Global Health” Transnational Medicine 27(1): 95-114. (with Matthew DeCamp).
  • 2005. “Equality and Human Rights” Philosophy, Politics, and Economics 4(1): 69-90.
  • 2004. “Political Liberalism and Social Epistemology” Philosophy & Public Affairs 32(2): 95-130.
  • 2003. “The Preventive Use of Force: A Cosmopolitan Institutional Proposal” Ethics & International Affairs 18(1): 1-22. (with Robert O. Keohane).
  • 2002. “Political Legitimacy and Democracy” Ethics 112(4): 689-719.
  • 2002. “Pharmacogenetics: Ethical Issues and Policy Options” Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 12(1): 1-15. (with A. Califano, J. Kahn, E. MacPherson, J. Robertson, and B. Brody).
  • 2001. “From Nuremberg to Kosovo: The Morality of Illegal International Legal  Reform” Ethics 111(4): 673-705. Reprinted in Humanitarian Intervention: Moral and Philosophical Issues, edited by Aleksandar Jokic. New York: Broadview Press, 2003.
  • 2000. “Rawls’s Law of Peoples: Rules for a Vanished Westphalian World”, Ethics 110(4): 697-721.
  • 1999. “Rule-Governed Institutions versus Act Consequentialism: A Rejoinder to Naticchia” Philosophy & Public Affairs 28(3): 258-270.
  • 1999. “The Internal Legitimacy of Humanitarian Intervention” The Journal of Political Philosophy 7(1): 71-87.
  • 1999. “Recognitional Legitimacy and the State System” Philosophy & Public Affairs 28(1): 46-78.
  • 1997. “Theories of Secession” Philosophy & Public Affairs 26(1): 31-61.
  • 1996. “Choosing Who Will be Disabled: Genetic Intervention and the Morality of Inclusion” Social Philosophy & Policy 13(2): 18-46.
  • 1995. “Equal Opportunity and Genetic Intervention” Social Philosophy & Policy 12(2): 105-135.
  • 1993. “The Morality of Inclusion” Social Philosophy & Policy 10(2): 233-257.
  • 1991. “Toward a Theory of Secession” Ethics 101(2): 322-342.
  • 1990. “Justice as Reciprocity Versus Subject-Centered Justice” Philosophy & Public Affairs 19(3): 227-252.
  • 1989. “Assessing the Communitarian Critique of Liberalism” Ethics 99(4): 852-882.
  • 1988. “Advance Directives and the Personal Identity Problem” Philosophy & Public Affairs 17(4): 277-302.
  • 1987. “Justice and Charity” Ethics 97(3): 558-575.
  • 1987. “Marx, Morality, and History: An Assessment of Recent Analytical Work on Marx” Ethics 98(1): 104-136.
  • 1984. “What’s So Special About Rights?” Social Philosophy and Policy 2(1): 61-83.
  • 1979. “Revolutionary Motivation and Rationality” Philosophy and Public Affairs 9(1): 59-82. Reprinted in Marx, Justice, and History: A Philosophy and Public Affairs Reader, edited by. M. Cohen, T. Nagel, and T. Scanlon. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981.
  • 1977. “Categorical Imperatives and Moral Principles” Philosophical Studies 31(4): 249-260.
  • 1976. “Basic Knowledge” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 37(1): 101-108.
  • 1975. “Distributive Justice and Legitimate Expectations” Philosophical Studies 28(6): 419-425.

Selected Book Chapters

  • 2019 (forthcoming). “The Reflexive Social Epistemology of Human Rights.” In The Oxford Handbook of Social Epistemology, edited by Miranda Fricker. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • 2019. “Institutional Legitimacy.” In Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy Volume 4, edited by Peter Vallentyne, David Sobel & Steven Wall. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 54-78.
  • 2018. “Evolution and Enhancement.” In The Ethics of Human Enhancement, edited by Stephen Clarke, Julian Savulescu, Tony Coady, Alberto Giubilini, and Sagar Sanyal. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 239-260. (with Russell Powell).
  • 2018. “A Richer Jus Ad Bellum.” In The Oxford Handbook of the Ethics of War, edited by Helen Frowe and Seth Lazar. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 167-184.
  • 2017. “Prisoners of Belief.” In The Oxford Handbook of Freedom, edited by David Schmidtz and Carmen Pavel. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 508-524.
  • 2015. “Why International Legal Human Rights?” In Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights, edited by Rowan Cruft, Mathew Liao, and Massimo Renzo. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 244-262.
  • 2015. “Human Rights: Taking Legalization Seriously.” In Human Rights: Moral or Political?, edited by Adam Etinson. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 211-229. (with Gopal Sreenivasan).
  • 2015. “Social Moral Epistemology and Education.” In The Aims of Higher Education, edited by Harry Brighouse and Michael McPherson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 91-112.
  • 2014. “Cognitive Enhancement.” In Ethics in Practice: An Anthology, edited by Hugh LaFollette. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 283-290. (with David Crawford).
  • 2014. “Human Rights and Moral Progress.” In Human Rights: The Hard Questions, edited by Cindy Holder and David Reidy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 399-417.
  • 2013. “Human Rights.” In The Oxford Handbook of Political Philosophy, edited by David Estlund. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 279-297.
  • 2012. “Equality, Democracy, and the Human Right to Health Care.” In Medicine and Social Justice, edited by Margaret Battin, Anita Silvers, and Rosamond Rhodes. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 84-101. (with Kristen Hessler).
  • 2011. “Breaking Evolution’s Chains: The Promise of Enhancement by Design.” In Enhancing Human Capacities, edited by Ruud ter Muelen, Julian Savulescu, and Guy Kahane. Oxford: Oxford: Blackwell Publishing: 49-67. (with Russell Powell).  Reprinted in The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 36:1: 6-27 (2011).
  • 2011. “The Philosophy of International Law.” In The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. New York: Routledge.
  • 2010. “Fidelity to Constitutional Democracy and to International Law.” In The Routledge Handbook on International Law, edited by David Armstrong. New York: Routledge: 249-267. (with Russell Powell).
  • 2010. “Social Moral Epistemology and the Tasks of Ethics.” In Ethics and Humanity: Themes from the Philosophy of Jonathan Glover, edited by N. Ann Davis, Richard Keshen, and Jeff McMahan. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 105-125.
  • 2010. “The Legitimacy of International Law.” In The Philosophy of International Law, edited by Samantha Besson and John Tasioulas. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 79-98.
  • 2007. “Justifying Preventive War.” In Preemptive War: Military Action and Moral Justification, edited by Henry Shue and David A. Rodin. New York: Oxford University Press: 126-142.
  • 2007. “Pharmacogenomics:  Ethical and Regulatory Issues” Oxford Handbook on Bioethics, edited by Bonnie Steinbock. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 536-570. (with Matthew DeCamp).
  • 2006. “Uncoupling Secession From Nationalism and Intrastate Autonomy From Secession.” In Negotiating Self-Determination, edited by Hurst Hannum. New York: Routledge: 81-114.
  • 2006. “Secession, Self-Determination, and Identity.” In Identity, Self-Determinationand Secession, edited by Igor Primoratz and Aleksandar Pavkovic. Aldershot:  Ashgate Publishing: 139-154.
  • 2006. “Taking the Human Out of Human Rights.” In A Realistic Utopia? Critical Essays on Rawls’s Law of Peoples, edited by Rex Martin and David Reidy. New York: Blackwell Publishing Co.: 150-168.
  • 2006. “Secession and the Problem of Its Legitimacy.” In Separatism: Forum on War and Peace Conference Volume. Florence: University of Florence Press: page numbers.
  • 2003. “Reforming International Law on Humanitarian Intervention: Some Moral Issues.” In Humanitarian Intervention: Ethical, Legal, and Political Dilemmas, edited by Jeff Holzgrefe and Robert Keohane. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 130-174.
  • 2003. “Secession, State-Breaking, and Intervention.” In Ethics and Foreign Intervention, edited by Deen Chaterjee and Don Schied. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 189-214.
  • 2003. “The Making and Unmaking of Boundaries: What Liberalism Has to Say.” In Nations, States, and Borders: The Ethics of Making Boundaries, edited by Allen Buchanan and Margaret Moore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 231-261.
  • 2002. “Social Moral Epistemology.” In Bioethics, edited by Ellen Frankel Paul, Fred D. Miller, Jr., and Jeffrey Paul. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 126-152. Reprinted in Social Philosophy & Policy 19(2): 126-152 (2002).
  • 2002. “The Philosophy of International Law.” In Oxford Handbook on Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law, edited by Jules L. Coleman and Scott Shapiro. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 868-934. (with David Golove).
  • 2003. “The Quebec Secession Issue: Democracy and Minority Rights.” In Self-Determination, and Secession, edited by Stephen Macedo and Allen Buchanan. New York: New York University Press. Originally commissioned by the Office of the Privy Council, Government of Canada, 1999.
  • 2003. “Introduction.” In Self-Determination and Secession, edited by Stephen Macedo and Allen Buchanan. New York: New York University Press.
  • 2000. “Justice, Legitimacy, and Human Rights.” In The Idea of Political Liberalism: Essays on Rawls, edited by Victoria Davion and Clark Wolf. New York: Rowman & Littlefield: 73-89.
  • 2000. “Hereditary Hemochromatosis: Ethical Issues.” In Hemochromatosis: Genetics, Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment, edited by James C. Barton and Corwin Edwards. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 555-563. (with Norman Fost).




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