• Robert Boyle: A Free Enquiry Into the Vulgarly Received Notion of Nature (edited book)
    with Edward B. Davis
    Cambridge University Press. 1996.
    In this book, published in 1686, the scientist Robert Boyle attacked prevailing notions of the natural world which depicted 'Nature' as a wise, benevolent and purposeful being. Boyle, one of the leading mechanical philosophers of his day, believed that the world was best understood as a vast, impersonal machine, fashioned by an infinite, personal God. In this cogent treatise, he drew on his scientific findings, his knowledge of contemporary medicine and his deep reflection on theological and phi…Read more
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    Regimens of the Mind: Boyle, Locke, and the Early Modern Cultura Animi Tradition (review)
    Isis: A Journal of the History of Science 104 160-161. 2013.
  •  7
    The Correspondence of John Wallis (review)
    Isis: A Journal of the History of Science 104 (3): 612-613. 2013.
  •  7
    Robert Boyle : a suitable case for treatment?
    British Journal for the History of Science 32 (3): 261-275. 1999.
    It is hard to think of a better subject for the exercise of retrospective analysis with which we are here concerned than Robert Boyle, the leading British scientist of his day, and arguably the most significant before Newton. A prolific and influential author, Boyle was lionized in his time both for his scientific achievement and for his piety and philanthropy. Of late, he has been the subject of attention from a variety of viewpoints which, as we shall see, raises the issue of how he is best un…Read more
  •  18
    Alchemy, magic and moralism in the thought of Robert Boyle
    British Journal for the History of Science 23 (4): 387-410. 1990.
    At some point during the last two years of his life, Robert Boyle dictated to his friend, Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury, some notes on major events and themes in his career. Some of the information he divulged in these memoranda has become quite widely known because Burnet used it in the funeral sermon for Boyle that he delivered a month after his death, at St Martin's in the Fields on 7 January 1692. In addition, these notes were cited several times by Thomas Birch in the ‘Life of the Hon…Read more
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    Robert Boyle and the early Royal Society: a reciprocal exchange in the making of Baconian science
    British Journal for the History of Science 40 (1): 1-23. 2007.
    This paper documents an important development in Robert Boyle's natural-philosophical method – his use from the 1660s onwards of ‘heads’ and ‘inquiries’ as a means of organizing his data, setting himself an agenda when studying a subject and soliciting information from others. Boyle acknowledged that he derived this approach from Francis Bacon, but he had not previously used it in his work, and the reason why it came to the fore when it did is not apparent from his printed and manuscript corpus.…Read more
  • Essay review-Robert Boyle (1627-91): Scrupulosity and science
    with Roy Porter
    History of Science 39 (2): 215-248. 2001.
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    The Lost Papers of Robert Boyle
    with Lawrence M. Principe
    Annals of Science 60 (3): 269-311. 2003.
    Although the volume of the surviving papers of Robert Boyle is substantial (over 20,000 leaves), a considerable amount of the written material left by Boyle at his death in 1691 has not survived in the Boyle archive. This paper gauges the scale and identity of these losses using the surviving inventories made by the Rev. Henry Miles in the 1740s when he was collecting and sorting Boyle's literary remains in conjunction with Thomas Birch's preparation of his 1744 Life and Works of Boyle. These de…Read more
  • The works of Robert Boyle
    with R. M. Sargent and E. B. Davis
    Annals of Science 59 (3): 321-326. 2002.
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    Robert Boyle's 'Designe about Natural History'
    Early Science and Medicine 13 (2): 83-126. 2008.
    This paper provides an analysis of Robert Boyle's most detailed discussion of the Baconian method of natural history. In a long letter to Henry Oldenburg dated 13 June 1666 and in ancillary manuscript material, Boyle spells out the method or 'Designe' by which he believes experimental programs in natural philosophy should be written up. The 'Designe' is enormously important in giving a clear statement of the precise contours of Boyle's Baconian methodology and providing a key to understanding th…Read more