Professor Allen Buchanan has enjoyed a diverse career, but the work is far from over as he anticipates contemplating weighty issues surrounding human morality and evolution in his new position as a research fellow with the Freedom Center at the University of Arizona.
It is a kind of homecoming for Buchanan -- the soon to be retired professor of philosophy and law at Duke University -- as he previously held a similar post in Tucson.
During his tenure with the philosophy department at the University of Arizona, Buchanan was the dissertation adviser to Dave Schmidtz, who later joined the faculty and went on to found what is known as the Freedom Center. (It is officially entitled the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom.)
"I admire the diversity of views represented among Freedom Center faculty and their willingness to embrace insights from various disciplines," Buchanan told the Arizona Business Daily. "The Freedom Center Colloquium Center is a wonderful addition to the University of Arizona community featuring stimulating thinkers on a broad range of topics and uniformly excellent discussions."
During his time with the center, Buchanan said he will continuing to think and write on "daunting questions" in the various areas he's worked in for many years, including the philosophy of international law, political philosophy and bioethics."
Specifically, he will concentrate on the use of bio-technologies that developers claim might make people “better than human,” through enhancing normal human capabilities.
"I am also working and will continue to work in a field called Social Moral Epistemology: the comparative evaluation of alternative institutions and social practices so far as they affect our ability to form true beliefs that are relevant our functioning as moral beings," Buchanan said. "The main focus of my research for the next few years will be on how the evolutionary history of our species affects the possibilities for progressive changes in human morality."
Buchanan has combined his scholarly work with active involvement in policy at national and international levels. He served as a consultant to the government of Canada on the possible secession of Quebec, and as a consultant to the U.S. State Department on the break-up of Yugoslavia.
He was attached to the High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Council of Europe; consulted the Ethiopian government on secession; is a former member of the National Human Genome Project; and was a staff member for four U.S. Presidential Bioethics Commissions.
Buchanan is also the author of 12 books and over 150 articles, including soon to be published tomes on the "just war" philosophy and the evolution of moral norms, and how their links to moral norms.
The professor explained he is especially interested in how evolution is connected to humans' tendency to "create and buy into ideologies." This essentially is how people identify with certain groups and ideas, which in turn reveal their identity and allegiances.