• Two arguments in Hume’s essay on miracles are reductios ad Catholicism: if you believe in the miracles in the Bible, then you ought to believe in Catholic miracles as well. Hume’s intended readers hated Catholicism and would sooner reject miracles than follow the pope. Hume argues that Jansenist miracle stories meet the standards of trustworthiness as well as any miracles in history. He knows that his Protestant believers don’t believe the stories, and he hopes to persuade his readers to reject …Read more
  • Philosophers have accused locke of holding a view about propositions that simply conflates the formation of a propositional thought with the judgment that a proposition is true, and charged that this has obviously absurd consequences.1 Worse, this account appears not to be unique to Locke: it bears a striking resemblance to one found in both the Port-Royal Logic (the Logic, for short) and the Port-Royal Grammar. In the Logic, this account forms part of the backbone of the traditional logic expou…Read more
  • Berkeley's "defense" of "commonsense"
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 49 (3): 315-338. 2011.
    Nearly as famous as his denial of the existence of matter is Berkeley's insistence that his philosophy is somehow a defense of commonsense. This is most often taken to mean that Berkeley thinks of his philosophy as supporting commonsense beliefs. However, the inadequacies of such views have persuaded some to disregard entirely Berkeley's claims about commonsense. Both readings are undesirable. Extant interpretations misunderstand the relationship between Berkeley's philosophy and commonsense. In…Read more
  • Corpuscles, mechanism, and essentialism in Berkeley and Locke
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 29 (1): 47-67. 1991.
  • This article details the variety of critical strategies in Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, finding strong connections with her writing as a reviewer for the Analytical Review, the literary review published by the reformer and Dissenter Joseph Johnson. In Rights of Woman, Wollstonecraft employed textual analyses and an evolving set of theoretical positions that had been introduced in the course of her career at the Analytical Review. By elucidating the importance of th…Read more
  • Descartes, Malebranche, and the Crisis of Perception
    Walter R. Ott
    Oxford University Press. 2017.
    The seventeenth century witnesses the demise of two core doctrines in the theory of perception: naive realism about color, sound, and other sensible qualities and the empirical theory, drawn from Alhacen and Roger Bacon, which underwrote it. This created a problem for seventeenth century philosophers: how is that we use qualities such as color, feel, and sound to locate objects in the world, even though these qualities are not real? Ejecting such sensible qualities from the mind-independent worl…Read more