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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:
Varies by semester. Please email for current hours.

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), and articles and chapters on ethical theory, moral psychology and early Chinese philosophy. He was interviewed on the subjects of cultural and moral relativism for the Public Television Series, "The Examined Life." 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

Recent Publications   (More Publications)
  • D. Wong. ""Responses to Commentators Levy, Shun, Slingerland, and Shweder"." Dao 14 (2015) (April, 2015): 225-233.  [abs]
  • ""Early Confucian Philosophy and the Development of Compassion"." Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 14 (2015) (April, 2015): 157-194.  [abs]
  • D. Wong. ""Growing Virtue: The Theory and Science of Developing Compassion from a Mencian Perspective"." The Philosophical Challenge from China. Ed. Brian Bruya. MIT Press, 2015. 23-58.  [abs]
  • D. Wong. ""On Learning What Happiness Is"." Philosophical Topics: Special Issue on Happiness 41.1 (2015 technically 2013): 81-101.  [abs]
  • D. Wong. ""Integrating Philosophy with Anthropology in an Approach to Morality"." Anthropological Theory 14.3 (2014): 336-55.  [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  
  • Wrote evaluation letters for two tenure cases and 1 promotion to full professor case, January 2014  
  • 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

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