Adam Smith was a famous economist and moral philosopher. This book treats Smith also as a systematic philosopher with a distinct epistemology, an original theory of the passions, and a surprising philosophy mind. The book argues that there is a close, moral connection between Smith's systematic thought and his policy recommendations.
This paper is a critical response to Hylarie Kochiras’ “Gravity and Newton’s substance counting problem,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 40 267–280. First, the paper argues that Kochiras conflates substances and beings; it proceeds to show that Newton is a substance monist. The paper argues that on methodological grounds Newton has adequate resources to respond to the metaphysical problems diagnosed by Kochiras. Second, the paper argues against the claim that Newton is committed to two speculative doctrines attributed to (...) him by Kochiras and earlier Andrew Janiak: i) the passivity of matter and ii) the principle of local causation. Third, the paper argues that while Kochiras’ arguments about Newton’s metaphysical commitments are mistaken, it qualifies the characterization of Newton as an extreme empiricist as defended by Howard Stein and Rob DiSalle. In particular, the paper shows that Newton’s empiricism was an intellectual and developmental achievement that built on non trivial speculative commitments about the nature of matter and space.Keywords: Newton; Substance; Action at a distance; Space; Matter; Empiricism. (shrink)
This study explores several arguments against Spinoza's philosophy that were developed by Henry More, Samuel Clarke, and Colin Maclaurin. In the arguments on which I focus, More, Clarke, and Maclaurin aim to establish the existence of an immaterial and intelligent God precisely by showing that Spinoza does not have the resources to adequately explain the origin of motion. Attending to these criticisms grants us a deeper appreciation for how the authority derived from the empirical success of Newton's enterprise was used (...) to settle debates within philosophy. What I emphasize is that in the progression from More to Clarke to Maclaurin, key Newtonian concepts from the Principia (1687), such as motion, atomism, and the vacuum, are introduced and exploited in order to challenge the account of matter and motion that is presented in Spinoza's Ethics (1677). Building on this treatment, I use the arguments from More and Clarke especially to help discern the anti-Spinozism that can be detected in Newton's General Scholium (1713). Ultimately, the Newtonian criticisms that I detail offer us a more nuanced view of the problems that plague Spinoza's philosophy, and they also challenge the idea that Spinoza seamlessly fits into a progressive narrative about the scientific revolution. (shrink)
I identify a set of interlocking views that became (and still are) very influential within philosophy in the wake of Newton’s success. These views use the authority of natural philosophy/mechanics to settle debates within philosophy. I label these “Newton’s Challenge.”.
In this paper, I argue that major elements of Hume’s metaphysics and epistemology are not only directed at the inductive argument from design which seemed to follow from the success of Newton’s system, but also have far larger aims. They are directed against the authority of Newton’s natural philosophy; the claims of natural philosophy are constrained by philosophic considerations. Once one understands this, Hume’s high ambitions for a refashioned ‘true metaphysics’ or ‘first philosophy’, that is, Hume’s ‘Science of Human Nature’, (...) can be seen and evaluated in their proper light. Hume has three motives for his attack on Newton: his work is informed by and gives cover to superstitious beliefs; his project is not useful to the public; and its success generates a challenge to the independent authority of philosophy. This essay consists of five sections. First, I discuss Hume’s attitude toward Newton. Newton claims that natural philosophy should be the foundation for other sciences, while in the ‘Introduction’ to the Treatise Hume asserts the supremacy of the ‘science of man’. For Hume the human sciences can attain the high epistemic status of ‘proof’, while much of the physical sciences must do with lower forms of ‘probability’. Furthermore, Hume’s ‘rules by which to judge of causes and effects’ do not replicate Newton’s fourth Rule; this opens a gap between the ontologies and methodologies of Newton and Hume. Moreover, Hume’s account of causation is designed to undercut the reductionist bias of natural philosophy. According to Hume the parts of natural sciences that go beyond common life can be evaluated from the point of view of the science of man. I end with remarks on the philosophic origins and significance of Hume’s attack on Newton’s natural philosophy. I depart from two independent traditions of interpreting Hume. One tradition makes many references to Newton’s influence on Hume. On a more detailed level, proponents of this view may call attention to Hume’s ‘rules’, his ‘Experiments’ and ‘Anatomy’, his method of investigation, the application of Newtonian metaphors works (e.g., an ‘attraction’ in the ‘mental world’ on a par with that in the ‘natural world’ – the principles of association are, then, analogous to the laws of motion). Hume’s ‘science of man’ is said to be inspired by Newton’s science of nature. Hume wants his readers to feel that he is modeling his project on the successes of natural philosophy, exemplified by Newton. In the ‘Introduction’ to the Treatise and more explicitly in the opening pages of EHU, Hume suggests that his ‘science of man’ can parallel recent achievements in natural philosophy (especially planetary astronomy). Thus, my claim is not that Newton did not figure importantly in Hume’s philosophy, but, instead, that Hume’s project is in many respects more hostile to Newton’s achievements – as available to well-informed eighteenth-century readers – than many recent interpreters have realized. There is a different tradition that argues Hume simply did not understand Newton. Hume’s philosophy, thus, cannot do justice to Newtonian science. Hume’s lack of mathematical competence is said to be a barrier to his understanding of Newton’s mathematical natural philosophy. One finds this attitude behind the cranking of Bayesian machinery in John Earman’s attack on Hume’s treatment ‘Of Miracles’. However, this tradition begs the question; it takes the authority of ‘science’ for granted in Hume. Against this second tradition I argue that Hume did understand salient features of Newton’s methodology and position, although in ways often unappreciated by the first tradition mentioned above. For example, in his comments on Newton in the History of England, Hume discerns the (broad) outlines of Newton’s commitment to the method of analysis and synthesis (see Newton’s Opticks, Query 31) and how it differs from Boyle’s methodology. So, Hume has a subtle understanding of Newton’s methodology – even if one were to grant that he lacks appreciation of the role of mathematics in Newton’s natural philosophy. Leaving open the question whether Hume understood all the details of Newton’s system, Hume’s departures from Newton are best interpreted not as ‘ironic’, but as philosophically motivated. (shrink)
It is argued that Adam Smith criticizes David Hume's account of the origin of and continuing adherence to the rule of law for being not sufficiently Humean. Hume explained that adherence to the rule of law originated in the self-interest to restrain self-interest. According to Smith, Hume does not pay enough attention to the passions of resentment and admiration, which have their source in the imagination. Smith's offers a more naturalistic and evolutionary account of the psychological pre-conditions of the establishment (...) and morality of justice than Hume had. Yet, Smith's account also makes room for a thin conception of Lockean natural right to property, while rejecting the contractualist and rationalistic elements in Locke. It emerges that Smith severs the intimate connection that Hobbes and Hume made between justice and property. (shrink)
This volume collects contributions from leading scholars of early modern philosophy from a wide variety of philosophical and geographic backgrounds. The distinguished contributors offer very different, competing approaches to the history of philosophy.
This chapter argues that the standard conception of Spinoza as a fellow-travelling mechanical philosopher and proto-scientific naturalist is misleading. It argues, first, that Spinoza’s account of the proper method for the study of nature presented in the Theological-Political Treatise (TTP) points away from the one commonly associated with the mechanical philosophy. Moreover, throughout his works Spinoza’s views on the very possibility of knowledge of nature are decidedly sceptical (as specified below). Third, in the seventeenth-century debates over proper methods in the (...) sciences, Spinoza sided with those that criticized the aspirations of those (the physico-mathematicians, Galileo, Huygens, Wallis, Wren, etc) who thought the application of mathematics to nature was the way to make progress. In particular, he offers grounds for doubting their confidence in the significance of measurement as well as their piece-meal methodology (see section 2). Along the way, this chapter offers a new interpretation of common notions in the context of treating Spinoza’s account of motion (see section 3). (shrink)
(2005). Wonder in the face of scientific revolutions: Adam Smith on Newton's ‘Proof’ of Copernicanism. British Journal for the History of Philosophy: Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 697-732. doi: 10.1080/09608780500293042.
In this essay, I discuss Dennett’s From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds and Godfrey Smith’s Other Minds: The Octopus and The Evolution of Intelligent Life from a methodological perspective. I show that these both instantiate what I call ‘synthetic philosophy.’ They are both Darwinian philosophers of science who draw on each other’s work. In what follows I first elaborate on synthetic philosophy in light of From Bacteria and Other Minds; I also explain my reasons for introducing (...) the term; and I close by looking at the function of Darwinism in contemporary synthetic philosophy. (shrink)
Adam Smith is rediscovered every few generations by philosophers surprised by his subtlety, originality, and relevance. Smith’s status as mythical father of economic science and his role as canonical defender of free trade is secure within economics, but few philosophers have been more often misrepresented and underestimated. Because he is well known as an advocate of commercial society, many scholars, public intellectuals, commentators, and journalists are happy to implicate him automatically in its successes and failures, or to enlist him in (...) one side or another of the various ideological battles surrounding the utility and dangers of market economics. This book is an accessible and engaging introduction to Smith’s most important contributions to philosophy. Beginning with an introductory chapter on Smith’s life, writings and readings, Eric Schliesser locates Smith in his immediate social and philosophical context. Later chapters analyse key concepts in his core moral, political and metaphysical theories, before turning to Smith's contribution to areas of ongoing philosophical interest, especially philosophy of science, and the metaphysics of mind and self. Schliesser concludes by summarising Smith's complicated legacy in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, and explores how Smith is being 're-discovered' in contemporary moral philosophy. (shrink)
Newton began his Principia with three Axiomata sive Leges Motus. We offer an interpretation of Newton’s dual label and investigate two tensions inherent in his account of laws. The first arises from the juxtaposition of Newton’s confidence in the certainty of his laws and his commitment to their variability and contingency. The second arises because Newton ascribes fundamental status both to the laws and to the bodies and forces they govern. We argue the first is resolvable, but the second is (...) not. However, the second tension shows that Newton conceives laws as formal causes of bodies and forces. This neo-Aristotelian conception goes missing in Kantian accounts of laws, as well as accounts that stress laws’ grounding in powers and capacities. (shrink)
The first two sections of this paper investigate what Newton could have meant in a now famous passage from “De Graviatione” (hereafter “DeGrav”) that “space is as it were an emanative effect of God.” First it offers a careful examination of the four key passages within DeGrav that bear on this. The paper shows that the internal logic of Newton’s argument permits several interpretations. In doing so, the paper calls attention to a Spinozistic strain in Newton’s thought. Second it sketches (...) four interpretive options: (i) one approach is generic neo-Platonic; (ii) another approach is associated with the Cambridge Platonist, Henry More; a variant on this (ii*) emphasizes that Newton mixes Platonist and Epicurean themes; (iii) a necessitarian approach; (iv) an approach connected with Bacon’s efforts to reformulate a useful notion of form and laws of nature. Hitherto only the second and third options have received scholarly attention in scholarship on DeGrav. The paper offers new arguments to treat Newtonian emanation as a species of Baconian formal causation as articulated, especially, in the first few aphorisms of part two of Bacon’s New Organon. If we treat Newtonian emanation as a species of formal causation then the necessitarian reading can be combined with most of the Platonist elements that others have discerned in DeGrav, especially Newton’s commitment to doctrines of different degrees of reality as well as the manner in which the first existing being ‘transfers’ its qualities to space (as a kind of causa-sui). This can clarify the conceptual relationship between space and its formal cause in Newton as well as Newton’s commitment to the spatial extended-ness of all existing beings. While the first two sections of this paper engage with existing scholarly controversies, in the final section the paper argues that the recent focus on emanation has obscured the importance of Newton’s very interesting claims about existence and measurement in “DeGrav”. The paper argues that according to Newton God and other entities have the same kind of quantities of existence; Newton is concerned with how measurement clarifies the way of being of entities. Newton is not claiming that measurement reveals all aspects of an entity. But if we measure something then it exists as a magnitude in space and as a magnitude in time. This is why in DeGrav Newton’s conception of existence really helps to “lay truer foundations of the mechanical sciences.”. (shrink)
In this collection of new and previously published essays, noted philosopher Eric Schliesser offers new interpretations of the signifance of Isaac Newton's metaphysics on his physics and the subsequent development of philosophy more broadly. In particular, he explores the rich resonances between Newton's and Spinoza's metaphysics. The volume includes a substantive introduction, new chapters on Newton's modal metaphysics and his theology, and two postscripts in whichSchliesser responds to some of his most important critics, including Katherine Brading, Andrew Janiak, Hylarie Kochiras, (...) Steffen Ducheyne, and Adwait Parker. The collection provides new and varied analyses on familiar focuses of Newton's work, adding important perspectives to the recent revival ofinterest in Spinoza's metaphysics. (shrink)
Our modern-day word for sympathy is derived from the classical Greek word for fellow-feeling. Both in the vernacular as well as in the various specialist literatures within philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, economics, and history, "sympathy" and "empathy" are routinely conflated. In practice, they are also used to refer to a large variety of complex, all-too-familiar social phenomena: for example, simultaneous yawning or the giggles. Moreover, sympathy is invoked to address problems associated with social dislocation and political conflict. It is, then, turned (...) into a vehicle toward generating harmony among otherwise isolated individuals and a way for them to fit into a larger whole, be it society and the universe.This volume offers a historical overview of some of the most significant attempts to come to grips with sympathy in Western thought from Plato to experimental economics. The contributors are leading scholars in philosophy, classics, history, economics, comparative literature, and political science. Sympathy is originally developed in Stoic thought. It was also taken up by Plotinus and Galen. There are original contributed chapters on each of these historical moments. Use for the concept was re-discovered in the Renaissance. And the volume has original chapters not just on medical and philosophical Renaissance interest in sympathy, but also on the role of antipathy in Shakespeare and the significance of sympathy in music theory. Inspired by the influence of Spinoza, sympathy plays a central role in the great moral psychologies of, say, Anne Conway, Leibniz, Hume, Adam Smith, and Sophie De Grouchy during the eighteenth century. The volume should offers an introduction to key background concept that is often overlooked in many of the most important philosophies of the early modern period.About a century ago the idea of Einfühlung was developed in theoretical philosophy, then applied in practical philosophy and the newly emerging scientific disciplines of psychology. Moreover, recent economists have rediscovered sympathy in part experimentally and, in part by careful re-reading of the classics of the field. (shrink)
This collection of specially commissioned essays by leading scholars presents research on Isaac Newton and his main philosophical interlocutors and critics. The essays analyze Newton's relation to his contemporaries, especially Barrow, Descartes, Leibniz and Locke and discuss the ways in which a broad range of figures, including Hume, Maclaurin, Maupertuis and Kant, reacted to his thought. The wide range of topics discussed includes the laws of nature, the notion of force, the relation of mathematics to nature, Newton's argument for universal (...) gravitation, his attitude toward philosophical empiricism, his use of 'fluxions', his approach toward measurement problems and his concept of absolute motion, together with new interpretations of Newton's matter theory. The volume concludes with an extended essay that analyzes the changes in physics wrought by Newton's Principia. A substantial introduction and bibliography provide essential reference guides. (shrink)
This is the first volume of original commissioned papers on the subject of Newton and empiricism. The chapters, contributed by a leading team of both established and younger international scholars, explore the nature and extent of Newton's relationship to a variety of empiricisms and empiricists.
The main aim of this paper is to explore why it is so important for Hume to defi ne ‘cause’ as he does. This will shed light on the signifi cance of the natural/philosophical relation (hereafter NPR) distinction in the Treatise. Hume's use of the NPR distinction allows him to dismiss on general grounds conceptions of causation at odds with his own. In particular, it allows him to avoid having to engage in detailed re-interpretation of potentially confl icting theories formulated (...) by natural philosophers. Moreover, it provides an instance of the normative nature of Hume's “science of man.” The paper argues that the NPR distinction - in conjunction with the so-called copy principle - is meant to undercut appeals to the authority of theories not founded on Hume's “principles.” In order to illustrate its claims about Hume, this essay explores some aspects of Newton's natural philosophy. Finally, this paper resolves a long-standing interpretive problem: how to reconcile Hume's two “defi nitions” of causation in the Treatise. (shrink)
In this article, the author offers a discussion of the evidential role of the Galilean constant in the history of physics. The author argues that measurable constants help theories constrain data. Theories are engines for research, and this helps explain why the Duhem-Quine thesis does not undermine scientific practice. The author connects his argument to discussion of two famous papers in the history of economic methodology, Milton Friedman's 'Methodology of Positive Economics', which appealed to example of Galilean Law of Fall (...) in its argument; and Vernon Smith's 'Economics in the Laboratory'. While the author offers some criticism of Friedman and Smith, most of the article is a friendly reinterpretation of their insights. (shrink)
The main task for philosophers is introducing, clarifying, articulating, or simply redirecting concepts as—to echo Quine’s poetic formulation— “devices for working a manageable structure into the flux of experience.” I sometimes use “coining concepts” as shorthand for this task. When the concepts are quantitative they are part of a possible science ; when the concepts are qualitative they can be part of a possible philosophy. Of course, in practice, concepts are oft en stillborn, while others have multiple functions in fi (...) elds of inquiry that may straddle philosophy and science. In this chapter I argue that historians of philosophy must, among other things, coin concepts that disclose the near or distant past and create a shared horizon for our philosophical future. In virtue of our expertise we can often do so by drawing on previously orphaned concepts. The more narrow aim of this paper is to introduce two concepts, “Newton’s challenge to philosophy” and, especially, “philosophic prophecy,” that are suitable to philosophers who engage with texts in a scholarly fashion. I do so by re-telling the story of early analytical philosophy and its connection to the reception of Spinoza. By “Newton’s challenge to philosophy,” I mean the following: from about 1700 onward, “natural science” is increasingly taken to be authoritative in settling debates within philosophy; it is a concept that focuses attention on the authority of science and its various manifestations within philosophy. By “philosophic prophecy,” I mean the structured ways in which concept formation by philosophers can shape possible futures, including that of philosophy. In what follows, I first develop and characterize philosophic prophecy more precisely. In order to illuminate the concept, I contrast it with several related, more familiar concepts. Second, I offer brief critical comments on two alternative approaches to the history of philosophy promoted by Quentin Skinner and Michael Kremer in order to make more precise the approach favored here. Third, I offer a fresh narrative about the prehistory and origin of analytical philosophy. My story focuses on Ernest Nagel, who, I claim, is the philosophic prophet of analytical philosophy. Along the way, I explore the shared origins of analytical philosophy and analytical history of philosophy in the anti-Spinozistic writings of George Boole and Bertrand Russell. I oppose Nagel’s and Russell’s narratives in light of Moritz Schlick, the founder of the Vienna Circle. I adopt Schlick’s bold and unappreciated vision of the task of philosophy in scientific age. I focus on his identification of philosophical legislation with qualitative concepts. (shrink)
This paper offers a composite portrait of the concept of magnanimity in nineteenth-century America, focusing on Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau. A composite portrait, as a method in the history of philosophy, is designed to bring out characteristic features of a group's philosophizing in order to illuminate characteristic features that may still resonate in today's philosophy. Compared to more standard methods in the historiography of philosophy, the construction of a composite portrait de-privileges the views of individual (...) authors. These philosophers saw the virtue of magnanimity as a remedy for a number of modern ills. American philosophers suggest that the best sort of magnanimity is acquired by adopting the correct relation to the natural world, including new forms of inquiry, or by adopting a life of voluntary poverty. Magnanimous individuals are critics of capitalism and offer themselves as exemplars of a better, experimental life. (shrink)
In this paper I explain what Newton means with the phrase “absolute, true, and mathematical time” in order to discuss some of the philosophic issues that it gives rise to. I do so by contextualizing Newton’s thought in light of a number of scientific, technological, and metaphysical issues that arose in seventeenth century natural philosophy. In the first section, I discuss some of the relevant context from the history of Galilean mathematical, natural philosophy, especially in the work of Huygens. I (...) briefly discuss how time-measurement was mathematized by way of the pendulum and explain the significance of the equation of time. In the second section, I offer a close reading of what Newton says about time in the Scholium to the Definitions. In particular, I argue that Newton allows us to conceptually distinguish between “true” and “absolute” time. I argue that from the vantage point of Newton’s dynamics, Newton needs absolute, mathematical time in order to identify and assign accelerations to moving bodies in a consistent fashion within the solar system, but that what he calls “true” time is an unnecessary addition. In the third section, in the context of a brief account of Descartes’ views time, I discuss the material that Newton added to the second edition of the Principia in the General Scholium and I draw on some -- but by no means all the available -- manuscript evidence to illuminate it. These show that Newton’s claims about the identity of “absolute” and “true” time have theological origins. (shrink)
The Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics brings together cutting-edge writing by more than twenty leading authorities on the history of physics from the seventeenth century to the present day. By presenting a wide diversity of studies in a single volume, it provides authoritative introductions to scholarly contributions that have tended to be dispersed in journals and books not easily accessible to the general reader. While the core thread remains the theories and experimental practices of physics, the Handbook contains (...) chapters on other dimensions that have their place in any rounded history. These include the role of lecturing and textbooks in the communication of knowledge, the contribution of instrument-makers and instrument-making companies in providing for the needs of both research and lecture demonstrations, and the growing importance of the many interfaces between academic physics, industry, and the military. (shrink)
In this paper I interpret Newton’s speculative treatment of gravity as a relational, accidental property of matter that arises through what Newton calls “the shared action” of two bodies of matter. In doing so, I expand and extend on a hint by Howard Stein. However, in developing the details of my interpretation I end up disagreeing with Stein’s claim that for Newton a single body can generate a gravity/force field. I argue that when Newton drafted the first edition of the (...) Principia in the mid 1680s, he thought that (at least a part of) the cause of gravity is the disposition inherent in any individual body, but that the force of gravity is the actualization of that disposition; a necessary condition for the actualization of the disposition is the actual obtaining of a relation between two bodies having the disposition. The cause of gravity is not essential to matter because God could have created matter without that disposition. Nevertheless, at least a part of the cause of gravity inheres in individual bodies and were there one body in the universe it would inhere in that body. On the other hand, the force of gravity is neither essential to matter nor inherent in matter, because (to repeat) it is the actualization of a shared disposition. A lone part-less particle would, thus, not generate a gravity field. Seeing this allows us to helpfully distinguish among a) accepting gravity as causally real; b) the cause(s) (e.g. the qualities of matter) of the properties of gravity; c) making claims about the mechanism or medium by which gravity is transmitted. This will help clarify what Newton could have meant when he insisted that gravity is a real force. I present my argument in opposition to Andrew Janiak’s influential and fine 2007 paper. Along the way, I call attention to my disagreement with Janiak on a number of secondary issues (e.g. Janiak’s attribution to Newton of a distinction between ‘local’ and ‘distant’ action; Janiak’s reading of the “Letter to Bentley,” etc). (shrink)
The introduction considers the state of scholarship on empiricism as a philosophical and historical category, particularly as it pertains to experimental philosophy. It concludes that empiricism properly understood is a rich category encompassing epistemic, semantic, methodological, experimental, and moral elements. Its richness makes it a suitable lens through which to account for actual historical complexity. The introduction relates the category to the work of Sir Isaac Newton, who influenced all of empiricism’s elements.
David Hume's philosophy, especially the positive project of his science of man, is often thought to be modeled on Newton's successes in natural philosophy. Hume's self-described experimental method (see the subtitle to Treatise) and the resemblance of his rules of reasoning (Treatise, 1.3.15)1 with Newton's are said to be evidence for this position (Noxon 1973; De Pierris 2002). Hume encourages this view of his project by employing Newtonian metaphors: he talks of an attraction in the mental world on a par (...) with that in the natural world (18.104.22.168). Hume infers the existence of habits as a kind of mental force (EHU 5.2.2) analogous to gravity; the discovery of the the principles of association, which in thehe calls his most important achievement see the section on Association in the entry on Hume in this Encyclopedia, are, then, analogous to the laws of motion. Hume certainly appears to want his readers to feel that he is modeling his project on the successes of natural philosophy, exemplified by Newton. In the Introduction to the Treatise and even more explicitly in the opening pages of EHU (1.15), Hume suggests that his science of man can parallel recent achievements in natural philosophy (with rather obvious nods to Newton's successes in planetary astronomy). And at the start of EPM, he echoes Newton's rejection of hypotheses (1.10). There is, thus, no doubt that Hume wants his readers to believe that Newton forms a kind of model. (shrink)
This chapter describes various aspects of the impact on philosophy of Newton’s Principia. It shows how Newton’s achievement dramatically influenced debates over the way subsequent philosophers conceived of their activity, and thus prepared the way for an institutional and methodological split between philosophy and science. These large-scale themes are illustrated by attention to a number of detailed debates over the nature and importance of Newton’s legacy: debates concerning gravity and matter theory, the status of Newton’s “laws of motion”, the role (...) of final causes in natural philosophy, and the interpretation of Newton’s “rules for the study of natural philosophy”. Important contributors to these debates included Hume, Colin Maclaurin, Priestley, and Reid. The chapter also includes discussion of how eighteenth-century philosophers understood Newton’s place in the history of science. (shrink)
The main aim of this paper is to explore why it is so important for Hume to defi ne ‘cause’ as he does. This will shed light on the signifi cance of the natural/philosophical relation distinction in the Treatise. Hume's use of the NPR distinction allows him to dismiss on general grounds conceptions of causation at odds with his own. In particular, it allows him to avoid having to engage in detailed re-interpretation of potentially confl icting theories formulated by natural (...) philosophers. Moreover, it provides an instance of the normative nature of Hume's “science of man.” The paper argues that the NPR distinction - in conjunction with the so-called copy principle - is meant to undercut appeals to the authority of theories not founded on Hume's “principles.” In order to illustrate its claims about Hume, this essay explores some aspects of Newton's natural philosophy. Finally, this paper resolves a long-standing interpretive problem: how to reconcile Hume's two “defi nitions” of causation in the Treatise. (shrink)
In this paper I investigate two denials in Milton Friedman's Nobel Lecture (1976). The first is [i] the denial that 'Economics and its fellow social sciences' ought to be 'regarded more nearly as branches of philosophy.' The second is [ii] the denial that economics is 'enmeshed with values at the outset because they deal with human behaviour' (267). I show that Friedman's appeal to his methodology in the Nobel lecture fails on conceptual grounds internal to Friedman's methodology. Moreover, I show (...) that the failure is related to a broader systematic problem: when properly understood, Friedman's methodology shows that positive economics is (in a non-trivial sense) enmeshed in values. In order to account for Friedman's overreaching, I turn to the charged social context regarding Friedman's purported involvement with the Chicago Boys, who were then serving Chilean Dictator Pinochet. I conclude by explaining why I re-open the old chestnut of values in positive science. The episode allows me to raise a question of fundamental import about the relationship between expertise and society. (shrink)
This paper argues that history of economics has a fruitful, underappreciated role to play in the development of economics, especially when understood as a policy science. This goes against the grain of the last half century during which economics, which has undergone a formal revolution, has distanced itself from its `literary' past and practices precisely with the aim to be a more successful policy science. The paper motivates the thesis by identifying and distinguishing four kinds of reflexivity in economics. The (...) main thesis of this paper is that because these forms of reflexivity are not eliminable, the history of economics must play a constitutive role in economics. An assumption that I clarify in this paper is that the history of economics ought to be part of the subject matter studied by economics when they are interested in policy science. Even if one does not accept the conclusion, the fourfold classification of reflexivity might hold independent interest. The paper is divided in two parts. First, by reflecting on the writings of George Stigler, Paul Samuelson, George and Milton Friedman, I offer a stylized historical introduction to and conceptualization of the themes of this paper. In particular, I identify various historically influential arguments and strategies that reduced the role of history of economics within the economics discipline. In it I also canvass six arguments that try to capture the cost to economics for sidelining the history of economics from within the discipline. A sub-text of the introduction is that for contingent reasons, post World War II economics evolved into a policy science. Second, by drawing on the work of Kenneth Boulding, in particular, George Soros, Thomas Merton, Gordon Tullock, I distinguish between four species of reflexivity. These are used to then strengthen the argument for the constitutive role of the history of economics within the economics profession. In particular, I argue that so-called Kuhn-losses are especially pernicious when faced with policy choices under so-called Knightian uncertainty. (shrink)
When Christiaan Huygens prepared the 1686/1687 expedition to the Cape of Good Hope on which his pendulum clocks were to be tested for their usefulness in measuring longitude at sea, he also gave instructions to Thomas Helder to perform experiments with the seconds-pendulum. This was prompted by Jean Richer's 1672 finding that a seconds-pendulum is 1 1/4 lines shorter in Cayenne than in Paris. Unfortunately, Helder died on the voy¬age, and no data from the seconds-pendulum ever reached Huygens. He nevertheless (...) did receive data from his clocks on the return-voyage from the Cape of Good Hope to Texel. When he first calculated the ship's course according to these data, it appeared to have gone straight through Ireland. He then tried introducing a correction to the data, based on an idea he had previously entertained as a possible explanation of Richer's finding: he corrected the observed time to com¬pen¬sate for a reduction in the effect of gravity from the Poles to the Equator resulting purely from the Earth's rotation. His newly calculated course convinced him that this rotational effect is the sole source of any variations in gravity with latitude. This paper examines Huygens's correc¬tions to the data and his reasoning from the new course to the conclusion that nothing else causes a variation in gravity. In the process, we show that Huygens had cogent empirical reasons to reject Isaac Newton's theory of universal gravity, which predicted a some¬what larger variation in gravity. (shrink)
n recent years, there has been a resurgence of academic interest in Adam Smith. As a consequence, a large number of PhD dissertations on Smith have been written by international scholars - in different languages, and in many diverse disciplines, including economics, women’s studies, philosophy, science studies, political theory and english literature: diversity which has enriched the area of study. In response to this activity, and in order to making these contributions more easily accessible to other Smith scholars, Leonidas Montes (...) and Eric Schliesser have edited this important new book. Of interest to Smith scholars and those interested in the history of economic thought in general, the contributions to this book are self-consciously interdisciplinary and skilfully employ many different methodologies. (shrink)
In this paper I distinguish four methods of empirical inquiry in eighteenth century natural philosophy. In particular, I distinguish among what I call, the mathematical-experimental method; the method of experimental series; the method of inspecting ideas; the method of natural history. While such a list is not exhaustive of the methods of inquiry available, even so, focusing on these four methods will help in diagnosing a set of debates within what has come to be known as ‘empiricism’; throughout the eighteenth (...) century there was a methodological reaction against the hegemonic aspirations of mathematical natural philosophy associated with the authority of Newton.In particular, I argue that the methods of inspecting ideas and natural history remained attractive to ‘empiricist’ thinkers with reservations about aspects of Newtonianism. Moreover, I show that the language of experimentalism meant different things to researchers with different attitudes toward Newton’s legacy. In order to illustrate and make more precise these claims, I embed my taxonomic treatment of the four methods within a narrative in which I primarily focus on Colin Maclaurin, Isaac Newton, David Hume, and Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon. (shrink)
This paper explains Sophie de Grouchy’s philosophical debts to Adam Smith. I have three main reasons for this: first, it should explain why eighteenth-century philosophical feminists found Smith, who has—to put it mildly—not been a focus of much recent feminist admiration, a congenial starting point for their own thinking; second, it illuminates De Grouchy’s considerable philosophical originality, especially her important, overlooked contributions to political theory; third, it is designed to remove some unfortunate misconceptions that have found their way into Karin (...) Brown’s ‘Introduction’ to the recent and much-to-be-welcomed translation of Sophie de Grouchy’s Lettres Sur La Sympathie. While Brown claims that there are major ‘differences’ in their programs of ‘social reform’, I argue there are important commonalities between Smith and De Grouchy. In particular, I highlight how they share a common understanding of how human sensibilities are shaped by social institutions and I show that De Grouchy’s path-breaking analysis of negative and positive liberty is grounded in her extension of Smith’s political theory and moral psychology. (shrink)
The introduction explain the need for how an international, inclusive discussion about the range of different methodological approaches from different traditions of philosophy can be read alongside each other and be seen in sometimes very critical conversation with each other. In addition, the introduction identifies four broad themes in the volume: the largest group of chapters advocate methods that promote history of philosophy as an unapologetic, autonomous enterprise with its own criteria within philosophy. Second, three chapters can be seen as (...) historicizing the history of philosophy from within. Third, four chapters argue for history of philosophy as a means toward making contributions to contemporary philosophy. Finally, two chapters explore the relationship between the history of philosophy and the history of science. (shrink)
This chapter explores Nagel’s polemics. It shows these have a two-fold character: (i) to defend liberal civilization against all kinds of enemies. And (ii) to defend what he calls ‘contextual naturalism.’ And the chapter shows that (i-ii) reinforce each other and undermine alternative political and philosophical programs. The chapter’s argument responds to an influential argument by George Reisch that Nagel’s professional stance represents a kind of disciplinary retreat from politics. In order to respond to Reisch the relationship between Nagel’s philosophy (...) of science and his politics is explored and this chapter shows how both are anchored in what Nagel once called his ‘contextual naturalism’—a metaphysics that resists imposing the unity of the world and treats all entities as embedded in a wider network of entities. Part of the argument traces out how Nagel’s views on responsible speech and professionalism reflect a distinct understanding of the political role of philosophers of science. (shrink)
This volume collects contributions from leading scholars of early modern philosophy from a wide variety of philosophical and geographic backgrounds. The distinguished contributors offer very different, competing approaches to the history of philosophy.Many chapters articulate new, detailed methods of doing history of philosophy. These present conflicting visions of the history of philosophy as an autonomous sub-discipline of professional philosophy. Several other chapters offer new approaches to integrating history into one's philosophy by re-telling the history of recent philosophy. A number of (...) chapters explore the relationship between history of philosophy and history of science.Among the topics discussed and debated in the volume are: the status of the principle of charity; the nature of reading texts; the role of historiography within the history of philosophy; the nature of establishing proper context. (shrink)
This is a Review Essay of Neil Levy's Bad Beliefs: Why They Happen to Good People. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022 forthcoming in International Studies in the Philosophy of Science. After summarizing the book it focuses on methodological and political issues pertaining to his synthetic philosophy and regulative epistemology.
In this article, I argue that by discarding the significance of philosophical methods and tools, the picture of field philosophy offered in Socrates Tenured is more akin to public interest consulting than to philosophy.
In this paper I offer three main challenges to James (2011). All three turn on the nature of philosophy and secure knowledge in Spinoza. First, I criticize James's account of the epistemic role that experience plays in securing adequate ideas for Spinoza. In doing so I criticize her treatment of what is known as the ‘conatus doctrine’ in Spinoza in order to challenge her picture of the relationship between true religion and philosophy. Second, this leads me into a criticism of (...) her account of the nature of philosophy in Spinoza. I argue it is less piecemeal and less akin to what we would recognize as ‘science’ than she suggests. Third, I argue against James's core commitment that Spinoza's three kinds of knowledge differ in degree; I claim they differ in kind. My argument will offer a new interpretation of Spinoza's conception of ‘common notions’. Moreover, I argue that Spinozistic adequate knowledge involves something akin to angelic disembodiment. (shrink)
I call attention to Berkeley’s treatment of a Newtonian indispensability argument against his own main position. I argue that the presence of this argument marks a significant moment in the history of philosophy and science: Newton’s achievements could serve as a separate and authoritative source of justification within philosophy. This marks the presence of a new kind of naturalism. A long the way, I argue against the claim tha t there is no explicit opposition or distinction between “philosophy” and “science” (...) until the nineteenth century. Finally, I argue for the conceptual unity between Berkeley’s immaterialism and instrumentalism. I argue that Berkeley’s commitment to immaterialism requires his reinterpretation of science and, thus, the adoption of instrumentalism. (shrink)