Nick Byrd's "Thinker fMRI"

About Nick Byrd

I am a PhD candidate and Graduate Student Cross-training Fellow at Florida State University. I work in the Social and Moral Reasoning Lab and in the Philosophy Department. I primarily study differences in reasoning. In my empirical work, I find that some philosophers reason more reflectively than others. I also find that less reflective philosophers tend toward certain beliefs — beliefs about god, about what to do in moral dilemmas, beliefs about personal identity, and beliefs about science. In my other work, I argue with philosophers and scientists about reasoning, wellbeing, and willpower — what they are, how to measure them, what it are necessary for, and what they can do. When I am not working, I enjoy travel, outdoor adventure, stand-up comedy, and going to bed early. For more info about me, see below and/or follow me online.


My mother was an accountant, a jeweler, and a social worker. My father was a restaurant owner and restaurant product salesman. I grew up in Massachusetts and South Florida. Since I was a kid, I liked building stuff — with Lego, wood, metal, motors/engines, …whatever I could get my hands on, really. As a teenager, my favorite classes were the ones in which I got to make stuff, use computers, argue, or some combination thereof. One of my first (and favorite) jobs was building and remodeling homes. When I wasn’t at school or at work, I was doing track, soccer, football, band, church, theatre, video games, or volunteer stuff. [Jump To Top]


As a teenager, I enjoyed — among other things — reading and writing about how things work. Eventually I decided that I wanted to do this full-time. So when I started college, I majored in Engineering and Religion. I guess I thought that those were the paths to figuring out how things work. A few years into college, I changed my mind. I realized that philosophy is more foundational than either engineering or religion. So I became a philosophy major. A few more years passed and, in graduate school, I changed my mind again. I realized that cognitive science is more fundamental than philosophy. It reveals how and why we philosophers think that things work a certain way. So cognitive science has become a keystone in my research. [Jump To Top]

Research Overview

Method. I am one of those philosophers who studies philosophy both analytically and empirically. Why? Because both approaches are necessary to answer the questions that keep me up at night.

Specialization. Most of my research is epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, philosophy of cognitive science, and psychology of philosophy (a.k.a., “experimental philosophy”). But sometimes I find myself engaging with ethics, history of philosophy, philosophy of religion, and metaphysics.

Topics. I primarily study reasoning. What is intuition? What is reflection? How do we study intuition and reflection scientifically? What does the best evidence say about how intuition and reflection actually work? When do they help? When they help, why do they help? When they don’t help, why don’t they help? How do differences in intuition and reflection relate to differences in ideology, philosophy, religion, morality, and bias? To learn more about my research, check out my research page, my CV, and/or follow me online. [Jump To Top]

Free Time

In my free time I like to spend time with my spouse and/or my cat. I also like to exercise, hike, travel, make stuff, and go to bed early. You can follow some of these activities on Instagram and Strava. [Jump To Top]

And yes: I have been told that I look like Neil Patrick Harris.

Featured Image: “The Thinker’s MRI” by Nick Byrd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on a work at Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at Creative Commons License