Ross Pain

Ross Pain

Position: Current PhD Student

School: School of Philosophy


Location: Level 6, Room 6.22, Desk B, 146 Ellery Cres


B.A. (Hons.), M.A.

I am originally from Margaret River, Western Australia. Before coming to the ANU I completed an undergraduate degree majoring in archaeology and philosophy, an honours degree in philosophy, and a master’s degree in philosophy, all at La Trobe University in Melbourne.

I commenced my PhD in July 2017. Broadly, I am interested in cognitive and social/cultural evolution. This means I spend most of my time in the philosophy of biology, the philosophy of cognitive science, and the philosophy of archaeology/anthropology. My research addresses both first-order questions ("how did language evolve?") and methodological questions ("how do we answer first-order questions?"). My supervisors are Kim Sterelny, Rachael Brown, Peter Hiscock (Archaeology – USyd), Daniel Stoljar, Frank Jackson and Colin Klein.

With Rachael Brown and Ceri Shipton I am guest editing a special issue of Biological Theory on Cognitive Archaeology. With Michael Kirchhoff and Stephen Mann I am guest editing a special issue of Biology and Philosophy on the Free Energy Principle.

Alongside my academic interests I have pursued a career in quality management and risk analysis, mainly in the mining and petrochemical industries. In 2014 I developed a conscience and moved to the community sector, where I preformed similar roles for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service and the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.

Outside of work I like motorbikes, Geelong Football Club, surfing, travel, live music, Korean food and red wine.


  • Philosophy of cognitive science
  • Philosophy of biology
  • Philosophy of archaeology/anthropology
  • ANU CASS Workshop Grant (with Rachael Brown): AUD $8,000
  • Passmore scholarship for graduate student travel: AUD $2,000
  • ANU CASS Workshop Grant (with Colin Klein): AUD $2,250
  • ANU CPS Workshop Grant (with Colin Klein): AUD $15,000
  • ANU CASS Graduate Research Activity Grant (with Alan Hajek): AUD $6,000
  • Australian National University Research Scholarship: AUD $ 26,682 per annum over 3 years
  • La Trobe University Travel Grant: AUD $1000
  • Australian Postgraduate Award: AUD $24,254 per annum over 2 years
  • 2019 Australasian Association of Philosophy Postgraduate Prize
  • 2015 Shortlisted for the Australasian Association of Philosophy Postgraduate Prize
  • 2011 David Hume Philosophy Prize (for honours thesis)


  • Australasian Association of Philosophy
  • Australasian Society for Philosophy and Psychology
  • Society for American Archaeology

PHIL3076: Philosophy of the Life Sciences – Cognitive Science (lecturer & convener)
PHIL3074: Advanced Philosophical Topics – Human Evolution (tutor & guest lecturer)
PHIL2126: Science in Society (tutor)
PHIL1005: Logic and Critical Thinking (tutor)

Updated:  22 February 2021/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications