Philosophy Faculty Database
Arts & Sciences
Duke University

 HOME > Arts & Sciences > Philosophy > Faculty    Search Help Login pdf version printable version 
David Wong, Professor and Susan Fox Beischer & George D. Beischer Professor of Philosophy    editDavid Wong

Office Location: 203E West Duke Building
Office Phone: (919) 660-3046
Fax:  (919) 660-3060
Email Address: send me a message

Office Hours:
Monday 1:20-2:10 & by appointment

PhD, Princeton University, 1977
B.A., Summa Cum Laude, Special Honors in Philosophy, Macalester College, 1971

Moral Psychology
Chinese Philosophy

Research Interests:
Current projects: A book on the classical Chinese thinkers Mencius, Xunzi, and Zhuangzi. Work on the relation between practical reason, desire, and emotion

David Wong (Ph.D. Princeton, 1977) is the Susan Fox Beischer and George D. Beischer Professor of Philosophy. Before he came to Duke, he was the Harry Austryn Wolfson Professor of Philosophy at Brandeis University and the John M. Findlay Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Boston University. His works include Moral Relativity (University of California Press, 1984) and Natural Moralities (Oxford University Press, 2006, translation in Korean by Chulhak-kwa-Hyunsil forthcoming, and translation in Chinese from Renmin University Press is in the works), "On Flourishing and Finding One's Identity in Community" (Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 1988),"Universalism versus Love with Distinctions: An Ancient Debate Revived" (Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 1989), "Coping with Moral Conflict and Ambiguity," (Ethics, 1992), "Xunzi on Moral Motivation" (Chinese Language, Thought, and Culture: Nivison and his Critics, 1996), "Reasons and Analogical Reasoning in Mencius" (Essays on the Moral Philosophy of Mengzi, 2002), "Relational and Autonomous Selves" (Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 2004), "Zhuangzi and the Obsession with Being Right" (History of Philosophy Quarterly, 2004), and "Moral Reasons: Internal and External," (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 2006). He has written articles on moral relativism for A Companion to Ethics, The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, The Encyclopedia of Ethics, and Dictionnaire de philosophie morale. He was interviewed on the subjects of cultural and moral relativism for the Public Television Series, "The Examined Life." He has written on comparative ethics for The Encyclopedia of Ethics and on comparative philosophy for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Encyclopedia of Chinese Philosophy. He is co-editor with Kwong-loi Shun of an anthology of comparative essays on Confucianism and Western philosophy: Confucian Ethics: a Comparative Study of Self, Autonomy and Community (Cambridge University Press, 2004). The main subjects of his research include 1) the nature and extent of moral differences and similarities across and within societies and how these differences and similarities bear on questions about the objectivity and universality of morality; 2) the attempt to understand morality naturalistically as arising from the attempt of human beings to structure their cooperation and to convey to each other what kinds of lives they have found to be worth living; 3) the nature of conflicts between basic moral values and how these give rise to moral differences across and within societies; 4) how we attempt to deal with such conflicts in moral deliberation; 5) the relevance of comparative philosophy, especially Chinese-Western (Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism) comparative philosophy, to the above subjects; 6) Whether our reasons to feel and act are based solely on what we already desire or whether reasons transcend what we desire and are used to critically evaluate and shape our desires; 7) the extent to which a person's recognizing that she has reasons to feel and act in certain ways can enter into the constitution of her emotions and change those emotions.

Areas of Interest:
Ethical Theory, 
Moral Psychology, 
Comparative Ethics, 
Chinese Philosophy

Teaching (Spring 2014):
  • PHIL 216.01, Problems in ethical theory Synopsis
    White 107, M 03:05 PM-04:20 PM; Bio Sci 154, W 03:05 PM-04:20 PM
  • PHIL 701S.01, Special fields in phil (sem) Synopsis
    SEE INSTRU, F 03:05 PM-05:35 PM
  • PHIL 798S.01, Philosophical interlocution Synopsis
    Crowell 106, F 03:20 PM-05:50 PM

Teaching (Fall 2014):

  • PHIL 263.01, Chinese philosophy Synopsis
    TBA, MW 11:45 AM-01:00 PM
  • PHIL 503S.01, Contemp ethical theories Synopsis
    West Duke 204, Th 04:40 PM-07:10 PM

Recent Publications   (More Publications)
  • D. Wong. "Response to Blum, Response to Geisz and Sadler, Response to Hansen, Response to Gowans, Response to Bloomfield and Massey, Response to Huang." Moral Relativism and Chinese Philosophy: David Wong and his Critics. Ed. Yang Xiao and Yong Huang. SUNY Press, 2014. 183-278.  [abs]
  • D. Wong. ""Growing Virtue: The Theory and Science of Developing Compassion from a Mencian Perspective"." The Philosophical Challenge from China  (Accepted, 2014?).  [abs]
  • D. Wong. ""Integrating Philosophy with Anthropology in an Approach to Morality"." Anthropological Theory  (Accepted, 2014).  [abs]
  • D. Wong. ""The Different Faces of Love in a Good Life"." Moral Cultivation and Confucian Character: Engaging Joel J. Kupperman  (Accepted, 2014).
  • D. Wong. ""Xunzi as Moral Craftsman"." Contemporary Philosophy in the Age of Globalization, v. 3, Hawaii Conference  (Accepted, 2014): 19-32.  [abs]

Conferences Organized
  • Advisory editor for the Journal of the American Philosophical Association, April 01, 2014 - present  
  • Adviser to program committee of Eastern Division, APA, 2010 - spring 2013  
  • Served as an external examiner for Masters thesis "Li: an Interpretation" by Colin Lewis, Hong Kong University, April 2012  
  • Visiting Committee to the Philosophy Department of the National University of Singapore, August, 2011  
  • External reader on PhD dissertation in Philosophy, University of Toronto, June, 2011  
  • Duke-UNC Robertson Philosophy conference on "Intrinsic Value", Co-organizer, September-April 2003  

Curriculum Vitae

Duke University * Arts & Sciences * Philosophy * Faculty * Staff * Grad * Postdocs * Visitingscholars * * Otherfaculty * Reload * Login