His best known work is the book The Philosopher and the Wolf about a decade of his life he spent living and travelling with a wolf. As The Guardian described it in its review, "it is perhaps best described as the autobiography of an idea, or rather a set of related ideas, about the relationship between human and non-human animals." Reviews were very positive, the Financial Times said it was "a remarkable portrait of the bond that can exist between a human being and a beast,". Mark Vernon writing in The Times Literary Supplement "found the lessons on consciousness, animals and knowledge as engaging as the main current of the memoir," and added that it "could become a philosophical cult classic", while John Gray in the Literary Review thought it "a powerfully subversive critique of the unexamined assumptions that shape the way most philosophers - along with most people - think about animals and themselves." However, Alexander Fiske-Harrison for Prospect warned that "if you combine misanthropy and lycophilia, the resulting hybrid, lycanthropy, is indeed interesting, but philosophically quite sterile" and that, although Rowlands "acknowledges at the beginning of the book that he cannot think like a wolf... for such a capable philosopher and readable author not to have made the attempt is indeed an opportunity missed."
As a professional philosopher, Rowlands is known as one of the principal architects of the view known as vehicle externalism or the extended mind, and also for his work on the moral status of animals.
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