Eric grew up in the deserts of eastern Washington state, admidst the tumbleweed, coyotes, and rattlesnakes. Like many philosophers, he spent his childhood wanting to become a scientist and had a conversion experience as an undergraduate. His expensive education was followed by a period of unemployment and despondency. In 1995 his luck changed and he obtained a lectureship at Cambridge. He moved to Sheffield in 2003.
Eric's research is primarily in metaphysics and related areas. Topics of particular interest include personal identity, material objects, time, and death. He is perhaps best known for his book The Human Animal, which argues for the unorthodox view that we are biological organisms ('animalism').