Sam Cowling’s primary areas of research are metaphysics and the philosophy of comics. He has published articles in Analysis, American Philosophical Quarterly, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Inks, Philosophical Studies, Philosophical Quarterly, and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
In metaphysics, his work focuses on ontology, modality, resemblance, and theoretical virtues like simplicity. He is especially interested in how ontological questions about what exists interact with modal questions about how things could have been (e.g., whether mathematical entities might have been different or if fictional characters like Sherlock Holmes have any essential properties). His first book, Abstract Entities (Routledge, 2017), is a critical assessment of contemporary debates over the existence and nature of abstract entities like numbers, meanings, and possibilities.
In philosophy of comics, his current projects focus on caricature, style, and pictorial representation. His most recent book, Philosophy of Comics (Bloomsbury, 2022), co-authored with Wesley D. Cray, explores the aesthetic, ethical, and metaphysical questions raised by comics. His research aims to understand the conventions of reading, drawing, and storytelling within comics by exploring the enormous diversity of the medium, ranging from satirical prints and forgotten newspaper strips to seventies horror comics and experimental manga. In addition to his areas of research, Dr. Cowling regularly teaches courses on logic and the philosophy of science.