Early Modern Experimental Philosophy
What drives philosophical progress? (With Adrian Currie)
Halley's Comet and Christmas Day
Oldenburg and Newton on 'Experimental Philosophy'
Conflating the Experimental and Mechanical Philosophies
Images of Experimental Philosophy
Newton on Mathematics
Newton on Experiment and Mathematics
Newton and the Case of the Missing Calculus
Newton on Experimental Philosophy
Understanding Newton's Experiments as Instances of Special Power
Observation and Experiment in the Opticks: A Baconian Interpretation
Observation, Experiment and Intervention in Newton's Opticks
Borrowed Terms and Innovative Concepts in Newton's Natural Philosophy
Shapiro and Newton on Experimental Philosophy
I have been carrying out my research as part of a team studying the emergence of experimental philosophy in the early modern period. I make regular contributions to the project blog, ‘Early Modern Experimental Philosophy’.
Philosophers from the early modern period (from Descartes to Hume) are normally divided into Rationalists and Empiricists. Yet this distinction was developed by post-Kantian philosophers from the late 18th century. In this research project we explore the hypothesis that there is a far better way of approaching early modern philosophy. Our central thesis is that the most common and the most important distinction in early modern philosophy is that between Experimental and Speculative Philosophy. This is a distinction that many of the actors actually used, and, we claim, it can explain all that the traditional distinction can explain and more besides. The experimental-speculative distinction (ESD) was very widespread within natural philosophy. Indeed it is to be found in the writings of almost all of the leading British philosophers in the late seventeenth century, including Locke, Boyle and Newton, and many continental philosophers as well. Moreover, by the mid-18th century this distinction between experimental and speculative philosophy had found its way into other branches of philosophy, such as moral philosophy, aesthetics and the study of the understanding. The ESD thus provided the fundamental terms of reference within which some of the most important developments of early modern philosophy took shape.
The following are some of my contributions, sorted roughly by topic:
Newton's Epistemic and Ontological Commitments
The Experimental Role of Hypotheses in Newton's Principia
Is Newton's Explanation of Gravity a Hypothesis?
Should we call Newton a 'Structural Realist'?
'Epistemic Amplification' and Newton's Laws
Are Newton's Laws Experimentally Confirmed?
Newton's Phenomena continued...
Hypotheses and Newton's Epistemic Triad
Newton's Method in Three Minutes
Newton's Method in 'De gravitatione'
Newton on Hypotheses
Hypotheses versus Queries in Newton's Opticks
Newton's Early Queries are not Hypotheses
Newton on Probability and Certainty
Did Newton Adopt Hypothetico-Deductivism?
The Aims of Newton's Natural Philosophy
Newton's 4th Rule for Natural Philosophy
Baconianism in the Principia
Crucial Instances in the Principia
Baconian Induction in the Principia
Understanding Newton's Principia as part of the Baconian Tradition