Ryan Cox | Philosophy

Honorary Associate in Philosophy
Department of Philosophy
School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry
University of Sydney

phone: +61 426 050 207
e-mail: ryan.cox@sydney.edu.au
web: www.rdouglascox.com
office: N494, Main Quadrangle

About Me

I am currently an Honorary Associate in Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sydney.

Before coming to Sydney, I was a Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Hamburg from October 2016 until May 2017, working with Benjamin Schnieder. My research at Hamburg was funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

I received my doctoral degree in Philosophy from the Australian National University in March 2017. My supervisors were Daniel Stoljar (chair), David Chalmers, Daniel Nolan, and Nicholas Southwood.

From October 2013 until March 2014, I was a Guest of the Philosophy Department at the University of Cambridge, working with John Maier.

Prior to that, from October 2012 until May 2013, I was a Visiting Student Research Collaborator in the Department of Philosophy at Princeton University, working with Michael Smith.

I live in Sydney with my partner and our three year old daughter.


My research focuses primarily on issues in the philosophy of mind and action, epistemology, and the philosophy of language. It focuses, in particular, on the topic of self-knowledge.

I wrote my thesis on the topic of self-knowledge. My thesis focuses on our knowledge of our own reasons for acting and for having particular attitudes. I argue against the widely held view that such knowledge is a kind of inferential knowledge and offer an alternative explanation of how we come to know such reasons.

I have a continuing interest in issues concerning explanatory language, in particular, issues concerning ‘why’-questions and ‘because’-sentences which arose while I was writing my thesis.


How Why-Interrogatives Work. Forthcoming in Synthese. Abstract: How do why-interrogatives work? How do they express the questions they express, in the contexts in which they express them? In this essay, I argue that, at a fundamental level, why-interrogatives work just like other wh-interrogatives, particularly other adjunct wh-interrogatives, and they express the questions they express, in the contexts in which they express them, by the same means that other wh-interrogatives do. These conclusions go against a trend in recent work on why-interrogatives, which holds that they are syntactically and semantically unlike other wh-interrogatives. Since the claim that why-interrogatives are unlike other wh-interrogatives has been taken to support various philosophical theses about the nature of why-questions and explanation, showing that why-interrogatives are just like other wh-interrogatives undermines this line of support for these theses.

Knowing Why. 2018. Mind & Language 33: 177–197. Abstract: In this essay, I argue that we have a non-inferential way of knowing particular explanations of our own actions and attitudes. I begin by explicating and evaluating Nisbett and Wilson’s influential argument to the contrary. I argue that Nisbett and Wilson’s claim that we arrive at such explanations of our own actions and attitudes by inference is not adequately supported by their findings because they overlook an important alternative explanation of those findings. I explicate and defend such an alternative explanation of how we can know such explanations in a non-inferential way, drawing on recent work in the philosophy of self-knowledge.

Review of T. Parent Self-Reflection for the Opaque Mind. 2017 Notre Dame Philosophical Review Abstract: A short review of Ted Parent’s book Self-Reflection for the Opaque Mind: An Essay in Neo-Sellarsian Philosophy.

Curriculum Vitae

For my curriculum vitae, click here.