Sam Cowling’s primary areas of research are metaphysics and the philosophy of comics. Dr. Cowling also regularly teaches courses on logic and the philosophy of science. 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 could have been otherwise or if fictional characters like Sherlock Holmes have 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 the philosophy of comics, his current projects focus on caricature, style, and depiction. 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 the medium by exploring its enormous diversity, which ranges from satirical prints and early newspaper strips to banned horror comics and experimental manga.