• Locke and Newton on Space and Time and Their Sensible Measures
    In Zvi Biener & Eric Schliesser (eds.), Newton and Empiricism, . pp. 119-137. 2014.
    It is well-known that Isaac Newton’s conception of space and time as absolute -- “without reference to anything external” (Principia, 408) -- was anticipated, and probably influenced, by a number of figures among the earlier generation of seventeenth century natural philosophers, including Pierre Gassendi, Henry More, and Newton’s own teacher Isaac Barrow. The absolutism of Newton’s contemporary and friend, John Locke, has received much less attention, which is unfortunate for several reasons. …Read more
  •  22
    Existentialism and Monty Python: Kafka, Camus, Nietzsche, and Sartre
    In George Reisch & G. Hardcastle (eds.), Monty Python and Philosophy, . pp. 173-186. 2006.
    This essay utilizes the work of the comedy group, Monty Python, as a means of introducing basic concepts in Existentialism, especially as it pertains to the writings of Nietzsche, Sartre, and Camus.
  •  17
    Radiohead and Some Questions about Music
    In George Reisch & B. W. Forbes (eds.), Radiohead and Philosophy, . pp. 41-52. 2009.
    This essay examines the music of Radiohead as a means of introducing various elementary concepts and theories in the philosophy of music.
  •  27
    Spatiotemporal Analogies: Are Space and Time Similar?
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 40 123-134. 2002.
    This paper investigates a famous argument, first introduced by Richard Taylor, that attempts to establish a radical similarity in the concepts of space and time. The argument contends that the spatial and temporal aspects of material bodies are much more alike, or analogous, than has been hitherto acknowledged. As will be demonstrated, most of the previous investigations of Taylor and company have failed to pinpoint the weakest link in their complex of analogies. By concentrating on their most f…Read more
  •  1
    As a means of overcoming the "Third Man" argument, several commentators have developed an influential theory of the relationship between Platonic Forms and particulars based on Plato's use of "image" analogies. This essay explores the viability of this "image-analogy" hypothesis and, in particular, examines an important, but neglected, argument advanced by R. E. Allen intent on establishing an ontological distinction between an image and its object-source.
  •  17
    Conventionalism in Reid’s ‘Geometry of Visibles’
    Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 34 467-489. 2003.
    The role of conventions in the formulation of Thomas Reid’s theory of the geometry of vision, which he calls the “geometry of visibles”, is the subject of this investigation. In particular, we will examine the work of N. Daniels and R. Angell who have alleged that, respectively, Reid’s “geometry of visibles” and the geometry of the visual field are non-Euclidean. As will be demonstrated, however, the construction of any geometry of vision is subject to a choice of conventions regarding the const…Read more
  •  22
    The ‘Dynamics’ of Leibnizian Relationism: Reference Frames and Force in Leibniz’s Plenum
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 37 617-634. 2006.
    This paper explores various metaphysical aspects of Leibniz’s concepts of space, motion, and matter, with the intention of demonstrating how the distinctive role of force in Leibnizian physics can be used to develop a theory of relational motion using privileged reference frames. Although numerous problems will remain for a consistent Leibnizian relationist account, the version developed within our investigation will advance the work of previous commentators by more accurately reflecting the spe…Read more
  • Music, Science, and Analogies
    The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 43 136-142. 1998.
    This essay explores the benefits of utilizing non-scientific examples and analogies in teaching philosophy of science courses, or general introductory courses. These examples can help resolve two basic difficulties faced by most instructors, especially when teaching lower-level courses: first, they can prompt students to take an active interest in the class material, since the examples will involve aspects of the culture well-known to the students; second, these familiar, less-threatening exampl…Read more
  •  11
    Review of Absolute Time: Rifts in Early Modern British Metaphysics by Emily Thomas (review)
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 57 (3): 557-558. 2019.
    Emily Thomas’s book explores conceptions of space and time among various British early modern philosophers, with special emphasis placed on More, Barrow, Newton, Locke, and Clarke. One of the work’s strengths is its treatment of a number of neglected thinkers, such as John Jackson and Edmund Law, in addition to Clarke. Despite its title, the book treats issues in the metaphysics of space as much as it does time, and Thomas provides an engaging tour of a host of current debates in these fields. O…Read more
  •  20
    This essay examines recent attempts to defend holenmerism, or the ‘whole in every part’ doctrine, as the preferred view of God’s relationship to the material world in the work of Descartes. By focusing on the interrelationship between space, matter, and immaterial entities in Cartesian philosophy, I will demonstrate that the textual evidence not only fails to provide support for the holenmerist revival, but that holenmerism also runs counter to many of Descartes’s concepts regarding space and bo…Read more
  •  2
    While there are numerous difficulties with the standard spacetime ontological dichotomy, namely, substantivalism versus relationism, this investigation will focus on two specific issues as a means of examining and developing alternative ontological conceptions of space that go beyond the limitations imposed by the standard dichotomy. First, while Newton and Leibniz are often upheld as the progenitors of, respectively, substantivalism and relationism, their own work in the natural philosophy of s…Read more
  • The Language of Nature: Reassessing the Mathematization of Natural Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century (edited book)
    with B. Hill, G. Gorham, and C. Kenneth Waters
    University of Minnesota Press. 2016.
  • What properties must space, or the modern notion of space-time, possess to allow the development of a coherent description of the natural world? My dissertation explores various aspects of this problem, both as they developed historically in a famous dispute between Descartes and Newton, and as they appear in more modern approaches to mechanics. In an early paper, De gravitatione, Newton presented an argument against Descartes' theory of space and time that has generated much controversy. Descar…Read more
  •  6
    Review of Mechanics from Aristotle to Einstein, by Michael J. Crowe (review)
    Annals of Science 68 (1): 142-144. 2011.
    No abstract
  •  18
    Review of Stephen Gaukroger, Descartes' System of Natural Philosophy (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2002 (9). 2002.
  •  174
    This essay explores Kant’s concept of absolute space in the Metaphysical Foundations from the perspective of the development of the relationist interpretation of bodily interactions in the center-of-mass reference frame, a strategy that Huygens had originally pioneered and which Mach also endorsed. In contrast to the interpretations of Kant that stress a non-relationist, Newton-inspired orientation in his critical period work, it will be argued that the content and function of Kant’s utilization…Read more
  •  187
    This essay examines the relationship between monads and space in Kant’s early pre-critical work, with special attention devoted to the question of ubeity, a Scholastic doctrine that Leibniz describes as “ways of being somewhere”. By focusing attention on this concept, evidence will be put forward that supports the claim, held by various scholars, that the monad-space relationship in Kant is closer to Leibniz’ original conception than the hypotheses typically offered by the later Leibniz-Wolff sc…Read more
  • This volume explores the inadequacies of the two standard conceptions of space or spacetime, substantivalism and relationism, and in the process, proposes a new historical interpretation of these physical theories. This book also examines and develops alternative ontological conceptions of space, such as the property theory of space and emergent spacetime hypotheses, and explores additional historical elements of seventeenth century theories and other metaphysical themes. Readers will learn abou…Read more
  •  1
    Although Descartes’ natural philosophy marked an important advance in the development of modern science, many of his specific concepts of science have been largely discarded, and consequently neglected, since their introduction in the seventeenth century. Many critics over the years, such as Newton (in his early paper De gravitatione), have presented a series of apparently devastating arguments against Descartes' theory of space and motion; a generally negative historical verdict which, moreover…Read more
  •  247
    In De gravitatione, Newton contends that Descartes' physics is fundamentally untenable since the "fixed" spatial landmarks required to ground the concept of inertial motion cannot be secured in the constantly changing Cartesian plenum. Likewise, it is has often been alleged that the collision rules in Descartes' Principles of Philosophy undermine the "relational" view of space and motion advanced in this text. This paper attempts to meet these challenges by investigating the theory of connected …Read more
  •  110
    Review of Tad Schmaltz, Descartes on Causation. (review)
    Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 1 (1): 165-169. 2011.
    A review of Tad Schmaltz' book on Descartes on causation.
  •  196
    Leibniz and the Metaphysics of Motion
    Journal of Early Modern Studies 2 56-77. 2013.
    This essay develops a interpretation of Leibniz’ theory of motion that strives to integrate his metaphysics of force with his doctrine of the equivalence of hypotheses, but which also supports a realist, as opposed to a fully idealist, interpretation of his natural philosophy. Overall, the modern approaches to Leibniz’ physics that rely on a fixed spacetime backdrop, classical mechanical constructions, or absolute speed, will be revealed as deficient, whereas a more adequate interpretation will …Read more
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  •  28
    This essay explores the benefits of utilizing non-scientific examples and analogies in teaching philosophy of science courses. These examples can help resolve two basic difficulties faced by most instructors, especially when teaching lower-level courses: first, they can prompt students to take an active interest in the class material, since the examples will involve aspects of the culture well-known, or at least more interesting, to the students; and second, these familiar, less-threatening exam…Read more
  •  47
    Descartes' Physics
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2008.
    This is the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry for Descartes' physics
  •  521
    Newton's Ontology of Omnipresence and Infinite Space
    with J. E. McGuire
    Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy 6 279-308. 2013.
    This essay explores the role of God’s omnipresence in Newton’s natural philosophy, with special emphasis placed on how God is related to space. Unlike Descartes’ conception, which denies the spatiality of God, or Gassendi and Charleton’s view, which regards God as completely whole in every part of space, it is argued that Newton accepts spatial extension as a basic aspect of God’s omnipresence. The historical background to Newton’s spatial ontology assumes a large part of our investigation, but …Read more
  •  184
    Spacetime, Ontology, and Structural Realism
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 19 (2). 2005.
    This essay explores the possibility of constructing a structural realist interpretation of spacetime theories that can resolve the ontological debate between substantivalists and relationists. Drawing on various structuralist approaches in the philosophy of mathematics, as well as on the theoretical complexities of general relativity, our investigation will reveal that a structuralist approach can be beneficial to the spacetime theorist as a means of deflating some of the ontological disputes re…Read more
  •  160
    Newton, the Parts of Space, and the Holism of Spatial Ontology
    Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 1 (2): 249-272. 2011.
    This article investigates the problem of the identity of the parts of space in Newton’s natural philosophy, as well as the holistic or structuralist nature of Newton’s ontology of space. Additionally, this article relates the lessons reached in this historical and philosophical investigation to analogous debates in contemporary space-time ontology. While previous contributions, by Nerlich, Huggett, and others, have proven to be informative in evaluating Newton’s claims, it will be argued that th…Read more
  •  370
    Hobbes and the Phantasm of Space
    Hobbes Studies 27 (1): 61-79. 2014.
    This essay examines Hobbes’ philosophy of space, with emphasis placed on the variety of interpretations that his concept of imaginary space has elicited from commentators. The process by which the idea of space is acquired from experience, as well as the role of nominalism, will be offered as important factors in tracking down the elusive content of Hobbes’ conception of imaginary space.