•  76
    Reason and Knowledge in Spinoza
    In Andre Santos Campos (ed.), Spinoza: Basic Concepts, Imprint Academic. pp. 71-83. 2015.
    This chapter investigates Spinoza's conception of reason, focusing on (i) the difference between reason and the imagination, and (ii) the difference between reason and intuitive knowledge. The central interpretive debate this chapter considers is about the scope of rational cognition. Some commentators have argued that it is only possible to have rational cognition of properties that are universally shared, whereas intuitive knowledge may grasp the essences of particular individuals. Another pro…Read more
  •  152
    The Metaphysics of Natural Right in Spinoza
    Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy 10. forthcoming.
    In the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (TTP), Spinoza argues that an individual’s natural right extends as far as their power. Subsequently, in the Tractatus Politicus (TP), he offers a revised argument for the same conclusion. Here I offer an account of the reasons for the revision. In both arguments, an individual’s natural right derives from God’s natural right. However, the TTP argument hinges on the claim that each individual is part of the whole of nature (totius naturae), and for this reas…Read more
  •  31
    Spinoza on Reason by Michael LeBuffe (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 1 1. 2019.
  •  148
    Can the Epistemic Value of Natural Kinds Be Explained Independently of Their Metaphysics?
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (2): 359-376. 2021.
    The account of natural kinds as stable property clusters is premised on the possibility of separating the epistemic value of natural kinds from their underlying metaphysics. On that account, the co-instantiation of any sub-cluster of the properties associated with a given natural kind raises the probability of the co-instantiation of the rest, and this clustering of property instantiation is invariant under all relevant counterfactual perturbations. We argue that it is not possible to evaluate t…Read more
  •  71
    Early Modern Women on Metaphysics ed. by Emily Thomas (review)
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 57 (1): 167-168. 2019.
    Insofar as historians of philosophy aim to get the story right, it is now widely recognized that they must reckon with works of early modern women philosophers—oft-neglected philosophers who read, and were read by, canonical luminaries such as Descartes and Leibniz. Thomas’s volume collects thirteen new contributions to the scholarship on the metaphysics of such authors: Mary Astell, Elisabeth of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, Catharine Trotter Cockburn, Émilie Du Châtelet, Bathsua Makin, Damaris …Read more
  •  409
    Anne Conway rejects the view that creatures are essentially members of any natural kind more specific than the kind 'creature'. That is, she rejects essentialism about species membership. This chapter provides an analysis of one of Anne Conway's arguments against such essentialism, which (as I argue) is drawn from metaethical rather than metaphysical premises. In her view, if a creature's species or kind were inscribed in its essence, that essence would constitute a limit on the creature's poten…Read more
  •  111
    Conway’s Ontological Objection to Cartesian Dualism
    Philosophers' Imprint 17 1-19. 2017.
    Anne Conway disagrees with substance dualism, the thesis that minds and bodies differ in nature or essence. Instead, she holds that “the distinction between spirit and body is only modal and incremental, not essential and substantial”. Yet several of her arguments against dualism have little force against the Cartesian, since they rely on premises no Cartesian would accept. In this paper, I show that Conway does have at least one powerful objection to substance dualism, drawn from premises that …Read more
  •  15
    The Modal Equivalence Rules of the Port-Royal Logic
    History and Philosophy of Logic 38 (3): 210-221. 2017.
    The Port-Royal Logic includes a brief discussion of modal propositions, containing several mnemonic devices for rules of equivalence governing the possibility, necessity, impossibility, and contingency of propositions. When the mnemonics are decoded, it can be seen that these rules treat possibility and contingency as formally equivalent modes. The aim of this paper is twofold: to show that this identification of possibility and contingency follows from the Logic’s formal treatment of those mode…Read more
  •  83
    Spinoza on Composition, Causation, and the Mind's Eternity
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (3): 446-467. 2014.
    Spinoza's doctrine of the eternity of the mind is often understood as the claim that the mind has a part that is eternal. I appeal to two principles that Spinoza takes to govern parthood and causation to raise a new problem for this reading. Spinoza takes the composition of one thing from many to require causal interaction among the many. Yet he also holds that eternal things cannot causally interact, without mediation, with things in duration. So the human mind, since it is the idea of a body e…Read more
  •  26
    Spinoza: Moral Philosophy
    Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2015.
    Spinoza: Moral Philosophy Like many European philosophers in the early modern period, Benedict de Spinoza developed a moral philosophy that fused the insights of ancient theories of virtue with a modern conception of humans, their place in nature, and their relationship to God. Unlike many other authors in this period, however, Spinoza was strongly … Continue reading Spinoza: Moral Philosophy →.
  •  126
    ‘Use Them At Our Pleasure’: Spinoza on Animal Ethics
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 30 (4): 367-388. 2013.
    Although Spinoza disagrees with Descartes's claim that animals are mindless, he holds that we may nevertheless treat them as we please because their natures are different from human nature. Margaret Wilson has questioned the validity of Spinoza's argument, since it is not clear why differences in nature should imply differences in ethical status. In this paper, I propose a new interpretation of Spinoza's argument that responds to Wilson's challenge. We have ethical commitments to other humans on…Read more
  •  8
    Descartes and the First Cartesians by Roger Ariew (review)
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 54 (1): 167-168. 2016.
    The title of Roger Ariew’s new book parallels that of his earlier collection of essays, Descartes and the Last Scholastics, published in 1999 and widely regarded as a signal contribution to the study of Descartes’s relationship to his intellectual predecessors. Some of the themes of that work are reflected in the new book as well. In both, Ariew seeks to overthrow the myth of Descartes as staunch opponent of Scholasticism by revealing his affinities to strands of Scholastic thought. Indeed, give…Read more
  •  39
    Reply to Nadler: Spinoza and the metaphysics of suicide
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (2): 380-388. 2017.
    Steven Nadler has argued that Spinoza can, should, and does allow for the possibility of suicide committed as a free and rational action. Given that the conatus is a striving for perfection, Nadler argues, there are cases in which reason guides a person to end her life based on the principle of preferring the lesser evil. If so, Spinoza’s disparaging statements about suicide are intended to apply only to some cases, whereas in others he would grant that suicide is dictated by reason. Here, I obj…Read more