Professor Rob Wilson
Started at UWA: 2019
Prominent international philosopher of the mind and cognition
I enjoy connecting ideas almost as much as I enjoy connecting people—both to one another and to ideas.Professor Rob Wilson
Professor Rob Wilson is a philosopher and lecturer of philosophy at UWA in the School of Humanities. His appointment was made as part of UWA's Be Inspired program of recruitment. He explores fundamental questions in the cognitive, biological, and social sciences, and takes philosophy into non-university spaces, such as school classrooms and public events. His specialisations span computational psychology; evolutionary biology and systematics; health sciences; disability; concepts of disease; psychiatric classification and treatment; and the anthropological and biological study of kinship.
For the past decade, the study of eugenics has been Rob’s research focus, a focus that continues in modified form in the Australian context, with a focus on cultural forms of eugenics (such as indigenous child removal practices). His work on eugenics seeks to make both positive and transformational changes to marginalised peoples in various ways. Rob is also working on a book manuscript on philosophical issues on kinship, building on a series of articles published in journals on anthropology and in the philosophy of science.
Rob was born in Broken Hill, News South Wales, where he spent much of his childhood, and later moved to Perth, Western Australia. Rob built an international reputation teaching and researching in Canada and the United States of America before taking up a position at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Victoria in 2017.
Rob’s most notable career achievements include his time as General Editor of the MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences, his directorship of the five-year project ‘Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada’ as part of which he hosted 80 public events and built the public resources at eugenicsarchive.ca, and his longstanding commitment to his ‘Philosophy in the Schools’ project in which he directed the first Western Australia Conference in Philosophy for Children in 1986 and founded Philosophy for Children Alberta in 2008.
His qualifications include a BA with first-class honours in Philosophy from The University of Western Australia, and an MA and PhD from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he was a Fulbright Scholar from late 1987 until early 1992.
- Convenor and chair of the Philosophy in the Community Committee (PiCC) of the Australasian Association of Philosophy.
Awarded the 2012 Lifelong Learning Award for ‘Philosophy for Children Alberta’, Faculty of Education, University of Alberta.
Awarded the 1999 Psychology of the PROSE Award of the American Association of Publishers.
Short-listed for the 2018 Prize in Excellence in Philosophy Teaching, sponsored by the American Philosophical Association (APA), the American Association of Philosophy Teachers (AAPT), and the Teaching Philosophy Association (TPA) for contributions to undergraduate and pre-college philosophy.
Standpoint theory and eugenics
Approaching eugenics from the standpoint of its survivors is important, in part, as a politics of rehumanisation and respect.Read more
End time series
Continuing the End Times series.Read more
Philosophy for Children: The Why and the How
Children are natural philosophers—so why don’t we routinely teach them how to do philosophy?Read more
The Eugenic Mind Project
A podcast interview with Carrie Figdor discussing new books in philosophy.Read more
The Philosophers Zone
Eugenics is a science that seems to belong back in the darkest days of the 20th century.Read more
Over the past decade, Rob has led two large-scale research projects in the areas of Engaged Philosophy, integrating philosophy thinking with community-based concerns in ‘Philosophy in the schools’ and ‘Eugenics and disability’.
Rob is currently on the Philosothon Project management committee, overseeing the operation and expansion of Philosothons across Australasia. He is also the founder of PEiPL—Philosophical Engagement in Public Life—for which he is building a WA hub. Both roles take philosophy beyond the university context.
- Start-up grant for $40,000 (2019-2023), The University of Western Australia.
- Start-up grant for $40,000 (2017-2019), La Trobe University.
- SSHRC Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) program, SSHRC, Canada. $1 million, February 2010 – July 2015. ‘Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada’; $1.7 million cash and in-kind support. Project website: eugenicsarchive.ca
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