•  520
    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
  •  369
    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.
  •  301
    Space and the Extension of Power in Leibniz’ Monadic Metaphysics
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 32 (3): 253-270. 2015.
    This paper attempts to resolve the puzzle associated with the non-spatiality of monads by investigating the possibility that Leibniz employed a version of the extension of power doctrine, a Scholastic concept that explains the relationship between immaterial and material beings. As will be demonstrated, not only does the extension of power doctrine lead to a better understanding of Leibniz’ reasons for claiming that monads are non-spatial, but it also supports those interpretations of Leibniz’ m…Read more
  •  274
    This essay presents an alternative to contemporary substantivalist and relationist interpretations of quantum gravity hypotheses by means of an historical comparison with the ontology of space in the seventeenth century. Utilizing differences in the spatial geometry between the foundational theory and the theory derived from the foundational, in conjunction with nominalism and platonism, it will be argued that there are crucial similarities between seventeenth century and contemporary theories o…Read more
  •  255
    The 'Properties' of Leibnizian Space: Whither Relationism?
    Intellectual History Review 22 (1): 107-129. 2012.
    This essay examines the metaphysical foundation of Leibniz’s theory of space against the backdrop of the subtantivalism/relationism debate and at the ontological level of material bodies and properties. As will be demonstrated, the details of Leibniz’ theory defy a straightforward categorization employing the standard relationism often attributed to his views. Rather, a more careful analysis of his metaphysical doctrines related to bodies and space will reveal the importance of a host of concept…Read more
  •  246
    Utilizing Einstein’s comparison of General Relativity and Descartes’ physics, this investigation explores the alleged conventionalism that pervades the ontology of substantival and relationist conceptions of spacetime. Although previously discussed, namely by Rynasiewicz and Hoefer, it will be argued that the close similarities between General Relativity and Cartesian physics have not been adequately treated in the literature—and that the disclosure of these similarities bolsters the case for a …Read more
  •  244
    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
  •  194
    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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  184
    On Structuralism’s Multiple Paths through Spacetime Theories
    European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (1): 45-66. 2012.
    This essay examines the underdetermination problem that plagues structuralist approaches to spacetime theories, with special emphasis placed on the epistemic brands of structuralism, whether of the scientific realist variety or not. Recent non-realist structuralist accounts, by Friedman and van Fraassen, have touted the fact that different structures can accommodate the same evidence as a virtue vis-à-vis their realist counterparts; but, as will be argued, these claims gain little traction again…Read more
  •  173
    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
  •  163
    Review of Michael Futch, Leibniz’s Metaphysics of Time and Space (review)
    Metascience 19 (3): 395-397. 2010.
    A review of Futch's book on Leibniz' natural philosophy of time and space.
  •  158
    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
  •  154
    Newton’s Neo-Platonic Ontology of Space
    Foundations of Science 18 (3): 419-448. 2013.
    This paper investigates Newton’s ontology of space in order to determine its commitment, if any, to both Cambridge neo-Platonism, which posits an incorporeal basis for space, and substantivalism, which regards space as a form of substance or entity. A non-substantivalist interpretation of Newton’s theory has been famously championed by Howard Stein and Robert DiSalle, among others, while both Stein and the early work of J. E. McGuire have downplayed the influence of Cambridge neo-Platonism on va…Read more
  •  153
    The articles that comprise this special issue of Intellectual History Review are briefly described.
  •  147
    Do theories of quantum mechanics and quantum gravity require spacetime to be a basic, ground level feature, or can spacetime be seen as an emergent element of these theories? While several commentators have raised serious doubts about the prospects of forgoing the standard spacetime backdrop, it will be argued that a defense of these emergent spacetime interpretations of quantum mechanics and quantum gravity hypotheses can be made, whether as an inference to the best explanation or using another…Read more
  •  120
    This paper investigates the question of, and the degree to which, Newton’s theory of space constitutes a third-way between the traditional substantivalist and relationist ontologies, i.e., that Newton judged that space is neither a type of substance/entity nor purely a relation among such substances. A non-substantivalist reading of Newton has been famously defended by Howard Stein, among others; but, as will be demonstrated, these claims are problematic on various grounds, especially as regards…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.
  •  95
    Descartes, Spacetime, and Relational Motion
    Philosophy of Science 66 (1): 117-139. 1999.
    This paper examines Descartes' problematic relational theory of motion, especially when viewed within the context of his dynamics, the Cartesian natural laws. The work of various commentators on Cartesian motion is also surveyed, with particular emphasis placed upon the recent important texts of Garber and Des Chene. In contrast to the methodology of most previous interpretations, however, this essay employs a modern "spacetime" approach to the problem. By this means, the role of dynamics in Des…Read more
  •  95
    Hume and the Perception of Spatial Magnitude
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 34 (3). 2004.
    This paper investigates Hume's theory of the perception of spatial magnitude or size as developed in the _Treatise<D>, as well as its relation to his concepts of space and geometry. The central focus of the discussion is Hume's espousal of the 'composite' hypothesis, which holds that perceptions of spatial magnitude are composed of indivisible sensible points, such that the total magnitude of a visible figure is a derived by-product of its component parts. Overall, it will be argued that a strai…Read more
  •  86
    This essay explores theories of place, or lived-space, as regards the role of objectivity and the problem of relativism. As will be argued, the neglect of mathematics and geometry by the lived-space theorists, which can be traced to the influence of the early phenomenologists, principally the later Husserl and Heidegger, has been a major contributing factor in the relativist dilemma that afflicts the lived-space movement. By incorporating various geometrical concepts within the analysis of place…Read more
  •  83
    Descartes and Individual Corporeal Substance
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 9 (1). 2001.
    This essay explores the vexed issue of individual corporeal substance in Descartes' natural philosophy. Although Descartes' often referred to individual material objects as separate substances, the constraints on his definitions of matter and substance would seem to favor the opposite view; namely, that there exists only one corporeal substance, the plenum. In contrast to this standard interpretation, however, it will be demonstrated that Descartes' hypotheses make a fairly convincing case for t…Read more
  •  82
    Another Go-Around on Leibniz and Rotation
    The Leibniz Review 19 131-137. 2009.
    This essay comments on the complexity of the task of accommodating Leibniz’s account of relational motion with his dynamics, as evident in Anja Jauernig’s (2008) Leibniz Review article, and suggests some possible strategies for overcoming these obstacles.
  •  80
    This paper explores the possibility of constructing a Cartesian space-time that can resolve the dilemma posed by a famous argument from Newton's early essay, De gravitatione. In particular, Huygens' concept of a center-of-mass reference frame is utilized in an attempt to reconcile Descartes' relationalist theory of space and motion with both the Cartesian analysis of bodily impact and conservation law for quantity of motion. After presenting a modern formulation of a Cartesian space-time employi…Read more
  •  58
    The ‘Space’ at the Intersection of Platonism and Nominalism
    Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 46 (2): 393-408. 2015.
    This essay explores the use of platonist and nominalist concepts, derived from the philosophy of mathematics and metaphysics, as a means of elucidating the debate on spacetime ontology and the spatial structures endorsed by scientific realists. Although the disputes associated with platonism and nominalism often mirror the complexities involved with substantivalism and relationism, it will be argued that a more refined three-part distinction among platonist/nominalist categories can nonetheless …Read more
  •  57
    Natural Laws, Universals, and the Induction Problem
    Philosophia 32 (1-4): 241-251. 2005.
    This paper contends that some of the recent critical appraisals of universals theories of natural laws, namely, van Fraassen's analysis of Armstrong's probabilistic laws, are largely ineffective since they fail to disclose the incompatibility of universals and any realistic natural law setting. Rather, a more profitable line of criticism is developed that contests the universalists' claim to have resolved the induction problem (i.e., the separation of natural laws from mere accidental regulariti…Read more
  •  55
    Descartes and Circular Inertia
    Modern Schoolman 77 (1): 1-11. 1999.
    This paper explores the Cartesian physics of circular motion, in particular, the long-standing puzzle concerning the possible role of a circular inertial concept in Descartes' theories. Although some commentators have claimed that Descartes' famous "rotating sling" examples favor a rotational component of "striving" towards motion, and that this aspect of his project constitutes a form of inertial thinking, it will be argued that a much stronger case for a Cartesian brand of rotational inertial …Read more
  •  53
    Descartes' Forgotten Hypotheses on Motion
    Journal of Philosophical Research 27 433-448. 2002.
    This essay explores two of the more neglected hypotheses that comprise, or supplement, Descartes’ relationalist doctrine of bodily motion. These criteria are of great importance, for they would appear to challenge Descartes’ principal judgment that motion is a purely reciprocal change of a body’s contiguous neighborhood. After critiquing the work of the few commentators who have previously examined these forgotten hypotheses, mainly, D. Garber and M. Gueroult, the overall strengths and weaknesse…Read more