Ryan  Nichols

Contact Information

Voice: 657-278-3394
Fax: 657-278-6132
Dept: 657-278-3611

Ryan  Nichols

Professor of Philosophy


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Ph.D., The Ohio State University, Dissertation entitled "Thomas Reid's Theory of Perception"

B.A., Illinois Wesleyan University, Majors in Philosophy and Religion, Minor in Chinese

Research Areas

Empirical & Experimental Philosophy

Scottish Enlightenment

Early Confucianism

Philosophy & Psychology of Religion

Courses Regularly Taught

Meaning, Purpose & the Good Life, Philosophy 101

Rationalism & Empiricism, Philosophy 300

Philosophy of Sex & Love, Philosophy 325

Asian Philosophy, Philosophy 350



Advances in Religion, Cognitive Science, and Experimental Philosophy (Bloomsbury, 2016; edited with Helen De Cruz)

Thomas Reid's Theory of PerceptionOpens in new window (Oxford UP, 2007) 

Philosophy Through Science FictionOpens in new window (Routledge, 2009)

Forthcoming Articles

'The Distant Reading of Religious Texts: A “Big Data” Approach to Mind-Body Concepts in Early China.' Co-authored with Edward Slingerland, Kristoffer Nielbo, and Carson Logan. Accepted at Journal of the American Academy of Religion

' Modeling the contested relationship between Analects, Mencius, and Xunzi: Preliminary evidence from a Machine-Learning Approach. ' Co-authored with Edward Slingerland, Kristoffer Nielbo, Uffe Bergeton and Carson Logan. Accepted at Journal of Asian Studies.

Selected Articles

'Civilizing Humans with Shame: How Early Confucians Altered Inherited Evolutionary Norms through Cultural Programming to Increase Social Harmony.'PDF File Journal of Cognition and Culture 15 (2015): 254-284. 

'Early Confucianism is a System for Social-Functional Influence and Probably Does Not Represent a Normative Ethical Theory.'PDF File Dao 14 (2015): 499-520.

'Toward a science of science fiction: Applying quantitative methods to genre individuation.' PDF File Co-authored with Justin Lynn and Ben Purzyicki. Scientific Study of Literature 4 (2014): 25-45.

'Re-evaluating the Effects of the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake on Eighteenth-Century Minds: How Cognitive Science of Religion Improves Intellectual History with Hypothesis Testing Methods.'PDF File Opens in new window  Journal of the American Academy of Religion 82 (2014): 1-40.

'The Social Cost of Atheism: How Perceived Religiosity Influences Moral Appraisal.'PDF File Opens in new window  Co-authored with Jen Wright. Journal of Cognition and Culture 14 (2014): 93-115.

'Thomas Reid,' The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Co-authored with Gideon Yaffe. Fall 2014 Edition, Edward N. Zalta (ed.),

'The origins and effects of Confucian filial piety (xiao 孝): How culture was made to solve an evolutionary problem for parents.'PDF File Opens in new window  Journal of Cognition and Culture 13 (2013): 201-230.

‘A Geneaology of Early Confucian Moral Psychology.’ PDF File Philosophy East and West 61 (2011): 609–629.

‘Natural Philosophy and Its Limits in the Scottish Enlightenment.’PDF File Opens in new window The Monist 90 (2007): 233-250. 

‘Why is the History of Philosophy worth our study?’PDF File Opens in new window Metaphilosophy 37 (2006): 34-52. 

‘Reid’s Inheritance from Locke, and How He Overcomes it.’PDF File Opens in new window Journal for the History of Philosophy 41 (2003): 471-492. 

Scholarly Work

8/2012-8/2013, Research Fellow, Centre for Human Evolution, Cognition, and Culture, University of British Columbia, M. Collard, S. Heine, J. Henrich, A. Norenzayan, & T. Slingerland, co-directors

10/2011-5/2013, Co-PI on 'Religion and Moral Development: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives,' John Templeton FoundationOpens in new window Grant, administered by Fuller Theological SeminaryOpens in new window , 'The Chinese Challenge' project, Justin Barrett, director

8/2010-5/2011 Research Fellow, Center for Philosophy of ReligionOpens in new window , University of Notre Dame, Michael Rea, director

9/2009-8/2010, Co-PI on 'Divine Intentionality and Divine Morality' sub-grant, John Templeton Foundation Grant, administered by Oxford University's Centre for Anthropology and MindOpens in new window , 'Cognition, Religion and Theology' project, Justin Barrett, director

9/2005-5/2006, Research Fellow, National Endowment for the HumanitiesOpens in new window

3/2005, Kristeller-Popkin Travel Fellowship, awarded by the Board of Directors of the Journal for the History of Philosophy

8/2000-5/2001, Graduate Student Fellow, Center for Philosophy of ReligionOpens in new window , University of Notre Dame, Alvin Plantinga director

Office Hours

Professor Nichols has no scheduled office hours for the 17-18 academic year. Please email him for appointment times.

Current Course Schedule

Professor Nichols is not teaching during normal terms for the 17-18 academic year. However, he is teaching PHIL 325 through Extended Education in January 2018.

Next Semester Course Schedule

Not teaching Fall 2017-Spring 2018

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