Early Modern Experimental Philosophy
What drives philosophical progress? (With Adrian Currie)
Newton on Mathematics
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
Newton on Hypotheses
Newton on Probability and Certainty