• The University of Western Australia (M204), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus

Personal profile


I am professor of philosophy at the University of Western Australia, having taught over the previous 25 years in North America. I was born in Broken Hill in New South Wales and grew up there and in Perth in Western Australia. I have a B.A. with first class honours in philosophy from the University of Western Australia, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where I was a Fulbright Scholar from late 1987 until early 1992.  I have been a full professor since 1999 and was elected to the Royal Society of Canada for contributions to philosophy in 2009.  A recent interview with Richard Marshall at 3.16am gives more of an idea of stuff I have thought about, and how I got back to where I once started with all this philosophy stuff.

Previous positions

I have taught in Canada at Queen’s University (1992-1996) and the University of Alberta (2000-2017), and in the USA at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (1996-2001).  Before coming back to UWA, where I had been an undergraduate, I was professor of philosophy at La Trobe University in Melbourne (2017-2019).

Community engagement

I have long-standing community engagements in two distinct areas: philosophy in and beyond schools and standpoint eugenics and disability. 

I first became involved in philosophy for children as an undergraduate at UWA in 1984, led the First Western Australian Conference on P4C in 1986 with 50 teachers, founded Philosophy for Children Alberta in 2008, and initiated the Eurekamp Oz! summer camp program, based now at UWA, in 2020.  The engagement in Alberta was recognised by the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta with the award of their Leader in Lifelong Learning Award to P4C Alberta in 2012, and the broader contributions to teaching and engagement by being short-listed fo rthe 2018 Prize in Excellence in Philosophy Teaching, an award jointly sponsored by the American Philosophical Association and the American Association of University Teachers. 

I began befriending and then collaborating with eugenics survivors in Edmonton, Alberta, shortly after arriving at the University of Alberta in 2000, and led the nationally-funded project Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada (2010-2016), which had a team of more than 70, held more than 80 public events, and produced the widely-used interactive website EugenicsArchives.ca, a site which is currently being rebuilt and expanded to reflect more of eugenics in the Global South.  The engagement experience here critically inform my *The Eugenic Mind Project (MIT Press, 2018) and curriculum content in a number of my classes.


My research interests are diverse, ranging across the cognitive, biological, and social sciences, as well as on occasion into the history of modern philosophy, bioethics, metaphysics within the discipline of philosophy.  I have authored three books with Cambrige University Press--Cartesian Psychology and Physical Minds (1995), Boundaries of the Mind (2004), and Genes and the Agents of Life (2005)--as well as one with MIT Press, The Eugenic Mind Project (2018).  I was the general editor, with the developmental psychologist, Frank Keil, of The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences (1999), which was the first MIT Press book to win the prestigious PROSE Award in the Category of Psychology, awarded by the American Association of Publishers, Professional/Scholarly Publishing Division.  I have edited two other books, Species: New Interdisciplinary Essays (MIT Press, 1999) and Explanation and Cognition (MIT Press, 2000).

I am the author of over 120 articles, book chapters, and reviews, and have given more than 300 talks and commentaries over the past 30 years.  I have published refereed articles in many of the leading general philosophy journals, including Mind, the Journal of Philosophy, and Nous, as well as leading specialists journals (such as Philosophy of Science, the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, and the Journal of the History of Philosophy) and a handful of journals in other disciplines (such as American Anthropologist, Anthropological Theory, Biological Theory, and Cognitive Processing).

Current projects

I am currently about half-way through my ARC-Discovery Project, Keeping Kinship in Mind and am completing a book manuscript on kinship and the philosophy of anthropology.  I am also revising the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article "Biological Individuals" (with Matt Barker), completing an article on ethnobiology and the ontological turn accepted at the Journal of Ethnobiology (with Lucia Neco), and seeing articles through to publication on race, gender, and disability (at the Journal for the Philosophy of Education) and on Indigenous expertise and knowledge and transdisciplinarity (at Philosophy of Science).

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Philosophy, Ph.D., Cornell University

21 Aug 198730 Jun 1992

Award Date: 19 Aug 2027

External positions

Chair, Philosophy in the Community Committee, Australasian Association of Philosophy

1 Jun 2019 → …

Editor, Life and Mind book series, MIT Press

1 Jan 2000 → …

Research expertise keywords

  • philosophy of mind
  • cognitive science
  • philosophy of biology
  • philosophy of anthropology
  • bioethics and disability
  • history of modern philosophy
  • philosophy of science
  • science and technology studies
  • eugenics


Dive into the research topics where Rob Wilson is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or