Duke's Department of Philosophy has a strong faculty that is committed to excellence in both research and teaching. In a recent ranking of philosophy programs in the United States, the department was recognized in the areas of:

  • philosophy of biology (rated as one of the two top programs in this area),
  • philosophy of mind,
  • philosophy and neuroscience,
  • moral psychology,
  • political philosophy,
  • applied ethics,
  • philosophy of social science,
  • 17th- and 18th-Century philosophy and
  • Chinese philosophy.

Expertise in the Department also extends to other areas of the history of philosophy such as ancient philosophy, Kant, 20th-Century analytic philosophy, and history and philosophy of science, as well as to philosophy of science, cognitive science, normative ethics, philosophy of law, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language, and philosophical logic.


Kenan Institute of Ethics is an interdisciplinary “think and do” tank committed to promoting moral reflection and commitment, conducting interdisciplinary research, and shaping policy and practice.

At Duke, we serve as a central node for analysis, debate, and engagement on ethical issues at and beyond the university. The Kenan Institute for Ethics currently features work in global migration, human rights, regulation, moral attitudes and decision-making, and religions and public life.

A small sampling of current projects includes an effort to connect pioneering research in forensic sciences to social science research in ethics for human identification, a Citizenship Lab uniting Duke undergraduates and local refugee youth to examine methods of civic participation, and a forthcoming research network on environmental ethics.


Since 1999, the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN) has served as the central focus at Duke University for research, education, and training in the psychological, computational, and biological mechanisms of higher mental function; variability in these mechanisms among individuals, across the lifespan, and between species; application of these mechanisms to real-world problems; and their dissolution in disease and mental disorders.