A Picture of Me at the Columbia River Brewing Co., in Portland, OR

I'm Richard Fry, a philosopher. I work as an Assistant Professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

I've taught many different courses; you can find syllabi for some of them below. In Fall '17, I'll be teaching Introduction to Philosophy and Theories of Knowledge.

My research focuses primarily on Early Modern views of non-human animal cognition. My C.V. has more details.

I take pictures of things sometimes, sometimes brew beer, sometimes build things, and often watch TV.

Learn more about me.

My Research

I'm primarily interested in Early Modern philosophy, animal minds, and philosophy of science. In particular, I'm interested in David Hume: he's the place where all three of these interests overlap. My dissertation focused on resolving some pressing issues in Hume interpretation. (I argued that the contemporary interpretive tradition that takes Hume to be engaged primarily in empirical psychology—and not normative epistemology—is basically right, but that it needs some crucial fixes. I argued that focusing on the way that Hume uses his particular terms and paying close attention to his sections about animal reasoning can help.)

My current research aims to more directly engage with Early Modern views of the capacities of non-human animals. Right now I'm working through some historical precursors to Hume's view on animal cognition. The first of these papers deals with Bayle and Leibniz. In it, I argue that we should think of Bayle as objecting to far more in Leibniz's account of non-human animal souls than just pre-established harmony. There's at least two major conflicts between Leibniz's account and the criteria that Bayle gives for such an account. (And there's only three criteria.) I'm currently preparing a paper that critically examines claims that skeptics like Bayle had a special influence on Hume's view of non-human animal reasoning.

My other areas of research interest include philosophy of science, including explanation (particularly backwards explanation); fictionalism/pretense theories; and philosophy of librarianship.

Please take a look at my C.V. for more about my academic work.


"I will venture to affirm, that, perhaps, the chief benefit, which results from philosophy, arises in an indirect manner, and proceeds more from its secret, insensible influence, than from its immediate application."

- David Hume, "The Sceptic," para.29

A Picture of Me Posing with Chalk-Drawn Version of Called Hipster Richard

Life is not much more than a game of giving and asking for reasons; studying philosophy gives one the skills and virtues needed to play it well. One chief intellectual virtue philosophy cultivates is the ability to make things clear, both for yourself and for others. Showing students that this is a skill that they need to develop and to demand that others deploy is my main goal.

You can find syllabi for selected courses below.

18th Century Philosophy (Spring '16)

My survey of philosophy from the 18th Century for upper-level students.

17th Century Philosophy (Spring '15)

My survey of philosophy from Bacon to Leibniz for upper-level students.

Introduction to Philosophy (Fall '14, Fall '15, Fall '16, Spring '17)

Introducing students to philosophical questions and theories by anchoring them in speculative fiction.

Animal Cognition: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (Spring '17)

Senior seminar survey of Early Modern views on animal cognition, culminating in examination of contemporary work on that same issue.

(De)Constructing Difference: Race, Sex, Disability (Fall '16)

Interdisciplinary Studies course designed to give students philosophical and sociological perspectives on natural kind terms deployed in contemporary society. Co-taught with Alyson Spurgas.

Reasoning & Argumentation (Fall '14, Spring '15, Fall '15)

A course focused on developing critical reading and critical thinking skills. Required for first year students at SIUE.

Disputes in Early Modern Philosophy (Spring '14)

Early Modern philosophers directly interacted with each other in print. We used their writings as the basis for debates about philosophical issues.

Origins of Animal Rights (Fall '13)

This class asks how Early Modern views of cognition and ethics shape the moral consideration we pay to animals.

Sex, Science, Society (Spring '13)

How should science influence our views of seemingly obvious categories like sex? What changes does this suggest for how our society is structured? Co-taught with Cassie Herbert.

Enquiry: Science & Philosophy (Fall '12)

How are science and philosophy related? Topics include human and animal minds; laws and explanation; kinds, species, sex and gender.

Clear & Critical Thinking (Summer '12, '11)

We are given reasons to believe things every day in the newspaper and on TV. What makes some of these reasons good and some of them bad?

Introduction to Logic (Spring '12)

Formal, informal, deductive and inductive logic, including propositional calculus and quantification theory.

Substance Abuse: Monism/Dualism (Fall '11)

What's a substance? Exploring topics in metaphysics and epistemology by using Ancient and Early Modern authors' views of substance as a starting point.

About Me

That's me below, posing with one of California's greatest delicacies: It's-Its!

A Picture of Me with a Box of It's Its

I grew up in rural Texas, passing buffalo and goats on the way to school. I played the trombone and led my polka band to second place at the Texas State German Competition (Sprachfest!).

From there, I went to The University of Arizona (in Tucson), where I majored in creative writing, minoring in philosophy. I later returned to U of A (and Tucson) to finish a philosophy major in preparation for grad school.

I moved on to the Department of Philosophy at Georgetown University, entering the Ph.D. program in Fall 2008. During my first year here, I met my partner; we introduced our cats to each other a few months later and were married the next summer. We took up homebrewing shortly thereafter.

After completing my Ph.D. in late 2013, I took a tenure-track job with Department of Philosophy at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Though we do less brewing than we used to, we do still watch TV. If you'd like to talk about beer or television, just get in touch with me at rfry@siue.edu. You can also find me on Facebook or academia.edu.

I also like projects with products and design; I built this site from scratch myself and have recently started woodworking.