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Profile: Eric Schliesser (University of Ghent)
  1. Eric S. Schliesser, From Adam Smith to Darwin.
    In this paper I call attention to Adam Smith’s 'Considerations Concerning the First Formation of Languages' in order to facilitate understanding Adam Smith from a Darwinian perspective. By ‘Darwinian’ I mean a position that explains differential selection over time through natural mechanisms. First, I argue that right near the start of Wealth of Nations Smith signals that human nature has probably evolved over a very long amount of time. Second, I connect this evidence with an infamous passage on infanticide in (...)
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  2. Eric Schliesser, Spinoza and the Philosophy of Science: Mathematics, Motion, and Being.
    This chapter argues that the standard conception of Spinoza as a fellow-travelling mechanical philosopher and proto-scientific naturalist is misleading. It argues, first, that Spinoza’s account of the proper method for the study of nature presented in the Theological-Political Treatise (TTP) points away from the one commonly associated with the mechanical philosophy. Moreover, throughout his works Spinoza’s views on the very possibility of knowledge of nature are decidedly sceptical (as specified below). Third, in the seventeenth-century debates over proper methods in the (...)
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  3. Eric S. Schliesser, Friedman, Positive Economics, and the Chicago Boys.
    In this paper I investigate two denials in Milton Friedman's Nobel Lecture (1976). The first is [i] the denial that 'Economics and its fellow social sciences' ought to be 'regarded more nearly as branches of philosophy.' The second is [ii] the denial that economics is 'enmeshed with values at the outset because they deal with human behaviour' (267). I show that Friedman's appeal to his methodology in the Nobel lecture fails on conceptual grounds internal to Friedman's methodology. Moreover, I show (...)
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  4. Eric S. Schliesser, Prophecy, Eclipses and Whole-Sale Markets: A Case Study on Why Data Driven Economic History Requires History of Economics, a Philosopher's Reflection.
    In this essay, I use a general argument about the evidential role of data in ongoing inquiry to show that it is fruitful for economic historians and historians of economics to collaborate more frequently. The shared aim of this collaboration should be to learn from past economic experience in order to improve the cutting edge of economic theory. Along the way, I attack a too rigorous distinction between the history of economics and economic history. By drawing on the history of (...)
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  5. Merel Lefevere & Eric Schliesser (forthcoming). Private Epistemic Virtue, Public Vices: Moral Responsibility in the Policy Sciences. Economics and Philosophy.
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  6. Eric Schliesser (forthcoming). Insiders and Outsiders in Seventeenth-Century Philosophy. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
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  7. Eric Schliesser (ed.) (forthcoming). Ten Neglected Philosophical Classics. Oxford.
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  8. Eric Schliesser, Newton and Newtonianism.
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  9. Eric Schliesser (2014). Toland and Adam Smith's Posthumous Work. Diametros 40:115-125.
    In this paper I offer a speculative answer to the question why Adam Smith, who burned nearly all of his papers, arranged for posthumous publication for a number of his essays. I rely on a number of hints in those essays and put them in the context of eighteenth century natural philosophy. I argue that those hints trace back to John Toland and Spinozism.
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  10. Mogens Laerke, Justin E. H. Smith & Eric Schliesser (eds.) (2013). Philosophy and Its History: Aims and Methods in the Study of Early Modern Philosophy. OUP USA.
    This volume collects contributions from leading scholars of early modern philosophy from a wide variety of philosophical and geographic backgrounds. The distinguished contributors offer very different, competing approaches to the history of philosophy.
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  11. Eric Schliesser (2013). Newton and Newtonianism in Eighteenth-Century British Thought. In James A. Harris (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century. Oxford University Press. 41.
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  12. Eric Schliesser (2013). Newtonian Emanation, Spinozism, Measurement and the Baconian Origins of the Laws of Nature. Foundations of Science 18 (3):449-466.
    The first two sections of this paper investigate what Newton could have meant in a now famous passage from “De Graviatione” (hereafter “DeGrav”) that “space is as it were an emanative effect of God.” First it offers a careful examination of the four key passages within DeGrav that bear on this. The paper shows that the internal logic of Newton’s argument permits several interpretations. In doing so, the paper calls attention to a Spinozistic strain in Newton’s thought. Second it sketches (...)
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  13. Eric Schliesser (2013). On Reading Newton as an Epicurean: Kant, Spinozism and the Changes to the Principia. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):416-428.
  14. Eric Schliesser, Philosophic Prophecy.
    The main task for philosophers is introducing, clarifying, articulating, or simply redirecting concepts as—to echo Quine’s poetic formulation— “devices for working a manageable structure into the flux of experience.” I sometimes use “coining concepts” as shorthand for this task. When the concepts are quantitative they are part of a possible science (or pseudo-science); when the concepts are qualitative they can be part of a possible philosophy (and other important projects). Of course, in practice, concepts are oft en stillborn, while others (...)
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  15. Eric Schliesser (2013). Paul Russell . The Riddle of Hume's Treatise: Skepticism, Naturalism, and Irreligion . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Pp. 424. $99.00 (Cloth); $34.95 (Paper). [REVIEW] Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 3 (1):172-175.
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  16. Eric Schliesser (2013). The Methodological Dimension of the Newtonian Revolution. Metascience 22 (2):329-333.
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  17. Eric Schliesser (2013). The Methodological Dimension of the Newtonian Revolution: Review Essay of Steffen Ducheyne: The Main Business of Natural Philosophy: Isaac Newton's Natural-Philosophical Methodology. Metascience.
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  18. Andrew Janiak & Eric Schliesser (eds.) (2012). Interpreting Newton: Critical Essays. Cambridge University Press.
    Machine generated contents note: Introduction Andrew Janiak and Eric Schliesser; Part I. Newton and his Contemporaries: 1. Newton's law-constitutive approach to bodies: a response to Descartes Katherine Brading; 2. Leibniz, Newton and force Daniel Garber; 3. Locke's qualified embrace of Newton's Principia Mary Domski; 4. What geometry postulates: Newton and Barrow on the relationship of mathematics to nature Katherine Dunlop; Part II. Philosophical Themes in Newton: 5. Cotes' queries: Newton's Empiricism and Conceptions of Matter Zvi Biener and Chris Smeenk; 6. (...)
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  19. Eric Schliesser (2012). Four Species of Reflexivity and History of Economics in Economic Policy Science. Journal of the Philosophy of History 5 (3):425-445.
    Abstract This paper argues that history of economics has a fruitful, underappreciated role to play in the development of economics, especially when understood as a policy science. This goes against the grain of the last half century during which economics, which has undergone a formal revolution, has distanced itself from its `literary' past and practices precisely with the aim to be a more successful policy science. The paper motivates the thesis by identifying and distinguishing four kinds of reflexivity in economics. (...)
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  20. Eric Schliesser (2012). Inventing Paradigms, Monopoly, Methodology, and Mythology at 'Chicago': Nutter, Stigler, and Milton Friedman. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (1):160-171.
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  21. Eric Schliesser (2012). Newton and Spinoza: On Motion and Matter (and God, of Course). Southern Journal of Philosophy 50 (3):436-458.
    This study explores several arguments against Spinoza's philosophy that were developed by Henry More, Samuel Clarke, and Colin Maclaurin. In the arguments on which I focus, More, Clarke, and Maclaurin aim to establish the existence of an immaterial and intelligent God precisely by showing that Spinoza does not have the resources to adequately explain the origin of motion. Attending to these criticisms grants us a deeper appreciation for how the authority derived from the empirical success of Newton's enterprise was used (...)
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  22. Eric Schliesser (2012). The Newtonian Refutation of Spinoza: Newton's Challenge and the Socratic Problem. In Andrew Janiak & Eric Schliesser (eds.), Interpreting Newton: Critical Essays. Cambridge University Press. 299--319.
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  23. Susan James & Eric Schliesser (2011). Spinoza on the Politics of Philosophical Understanding. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 111:497 - 518.
    In this paper I offer three main challenges to James (2011). All three turn on the nature of philosophy and secure knowledge in Spinoza. First, I criticize James's account of the epistemic role that experience plays in securing adequate ideas for Spinoza. In doing so I criticize her treatment of what is known as the 'conatus doctrine' in Spinoza in order to challenge her picture of the relationship between true religion and philosophy. Second, this leads me into a criticism of (...)
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  24. Eric Schliesser (2011). “Every System of Scientific Theory Involves Philosophical Assumptions”(Talcott Parsons). The Surprising Weberian Roots to Milton Friedman's Methodology. In. In Dennis Dieks, Wenceslao Gonzalo, Thomas Uebel, Stephan Hartmann & Marcel Weber (eds.), Explanation, Prediction, and Confirmation. Springer. 533--543.
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  25. Eric Schliesser (2011). Interpreting Spinoza: Critical Essays. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 19 (4):822 - 826.
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy, Volume 19, Issue 4, Page 822-826, July 2011.
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  26. Eric Schliesser (2011). Newton's Challenge to Philosophy: A Programmatic Essay. Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 1 (1):101-128.
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  27. Eric Schliesser (2011). Newton's Substance Monism, Distant Action, and the Nature of Newton's Empiricism: Discussion of H. Kochiras “Gravity and Newton's Substance Counting Problem”. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (1):160-166.
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  28. Eric Schliesser (2011). Philosophical Relations, Natural Relations, and Philosophic Decisionism in Belief in the External World: Comments on P. J. E. Kail, Projection and Realism in Hume's Philosophy. [REVIEW] Hume Studies 36 (1):67-76.
    My critical comments on Part I of P. J. E. Kail's Projection and Realism in Hume's Philosophy are divided into two parts. First, I challenge the exegetical details of Kail's take on Hume's important distinction between natural and philosophical relations. I show that Kail misreads Hume in a subtle fashion. If I am right, then much of the machinery that Kail puts into place for his main argument does different work in Hume than Kail thinks. Second, I offer a brief (...)
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  29. Eric Schliesser (2011). Philosophical Relations, Natural Relations, and Philosophic Decisionism in Belief in the External World. Hume Studies 36 (1):67-76.
  30. Eric Schliesser (2011). Spinoza's Conatus as an Essence Preserving, Attribute-Neutral Immanent Cause: Toward a New Interpretation of Attributes and Modes. In Keith Allen & Tom Stoneham (eds.), Causation and Modern Philosophy. Routledge. 3--65.
  31. Eric Schliesser (2011). Spinoza on the Politics of PhilosophicalUnderstanding Susan James and Eric Schliesser Angels and Philosophers: With a New Interpretation of Spinoza's Common Notions. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 111 (3pt3):497-518.
    In this paper I offer three main challenges to James (2011). All three turn on the nature of philosophy and secure knowledge in Spinoza. First, I criticize James's account of the epistemic role that experience plays in securing adequate ideas for Spinoza. In doing so I criticize her treatment of what is known as the ‘conatus doctrine’ in Spinoza in order to challenge her picture of the relationship between true religion and philosophy. Second, this leads me into a criticism of (...)
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  32. Eric Schliesser (2011). Without God: Gravity as a Relational Quality of Matter in Newton's Treatise. In Dana Jalobeanu & Peter R. Anstey (eds.), Vanishing Matter and the Laws of Motion: Descartes and Beyond. Routledge. 13--80.
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  33. Eric Schliesser, “Gravity as a Relational Quality of Matter in Newton's Treatise:”.
    In this paper I clarify what Newton could have meant when he insisted that gravity is a real force. I interpret Newton’s speculative treatment of gravity as a relational, accidental quality of matter that arises through what Newton calls “the shared action” of two bodies. I argue that when Newton drafted the first edition of the Principia in the mid 1680s, he thought that (at least a part of) the cause of gravity is the disposition inherent in any individual body, (...)
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  34. Eric Schliesser, Hume's Attack on Newton's Philosophy.
    In this paper, I argue that major elements of Hume’s metaphysics and epistemology are not only directed at the inductive argument from design which seemed to follow from the success of Newton’s system, but also have far larger aims. They are directed against the authority of Newton’s natural philosophy; the claims of natural philosophy are constrained by philosophic considerations. Once one understands this, Hume’s high ambitions for a refashioned ‘true metaphysics’ or ‘first philosophy’, that is, Hume’s ‘Science of Human Nature’, (...)
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  35. Eric Schliesser, Inventing Paradigms, Monopoly, Methodology, and Mythology at 'Chicago': Nutter and Stigler.
    This paper focuses on Warren Nutter’s The Extent of Enterprise Monopoly in the United States, 1899-1939. This started out as a (1949) doctoral dissertation at The University of Chicago, part of Aaron Director’s Free Market Study. Besides Director, O.H. Brownlee and Milton Friedman were closely involved with supervising it. It was published by The University of Chicago Press in 1951. In the 1950s the book was explicitly understood as belonging to the “Chicago School” (Dow and Abernathy 1963). By articulating the (...)
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  36. Eric Schliesser (2010). Review of G.A.J. Rogers, Tom Sorrell, Jill Kraye (Eds.), Insiders and Outsiders in Seventeenth-Century Philosophy. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2010 (3).
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  37. Eric Schliesser, The Surprising Weberian Roots to Milton Friedman's Methodology.
    The main point of this paper is to contribute to understanding Milton Friedman’s (1953) “The Methodology of Positive Economics” (hereafter F1953), one of the most influential statements of economic methodology of the twentieth century, and, in doing so, help discern the non trivial but complex role of philosophic ideas in the shaping of economic theorizing and economists’ self-conception. It also aims to contribute to a better understanding of the theoretical origins of the so-called ‘Chicago’ school of economics. In this paper, (...)
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  38. Eric Schliesser, Copernican Revolutions Revisited in Adam Smith by Way of David Hume.
    In this paper I revisit Adam Smith’s treatment of Copernicanism and Newtonianism in his essay, “The History of Astronomy” (hereafter: “Astronomy”), in light of a surprisingly ignored context: David Hume. This remark will strike most scholars of Adam Smith as unfounded—David Hume’s philosophy is often invoked as a source of Smith’s approach in the “Astronomy” or as its target. Yet, Hume’s occasional remarks on Copernicanism nor his treatment of the history of science in the History of England (1754-62, but revised (...)
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  39. Eric Schliesser, From Adam Smith to Darwin; Some Neglected Evidence.
    In this paper I call attention to Adam Smith’s “Considerations Concerning the First Formation of Languages” in order to facilitate understanding Adam Smith from a Darwinian perspective. By ‘Darwinian’ I mean a position that explains differential selection over time through natural mechanisms. First, I argue that right near the start of Wealth of Nations Smith signals that human nature has probably evolved over a very long amount of time. Second, I connect this evidence with an infamous passage on infanticide in (...)
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  40. Eric Schliesser (2009). Neil McArthur, David Hume's Political Theory: Law, Commerce, and the Constitution of Government, Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 2007. 208pp. H/B. CDN$45. ISBN 978-0-8020-9335-. [REVIEW] Journal of Scottish Philosophy 7 (1):103-107.
  41. Eric Schliesser (2008). D. D. Raphael,The Impartial Spectator: Adam Smith's Moral Philosophy,and Leonidas Montes,Adam Smith in Context: A Critical Reassessment of Some Central Components of His Thought:The Impartial Spectator: Adam Smith's Moral Philosophy;Adam Smith in Context: A Critical Reassessment of Some Central Components of His Thought. Ethics 118 (3):569-575.
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  42. Eric Schliesser (2008). Emilio Mazza and Emanuele Ronchetti (Ed.), New Essays on David Hume, Milan: FrancoAngeli, 2007, 480pp, 27 Euro, ISBN 978-8846483362. [REVIEW] Journal of Scottish Philosophy 6 (2):203-208.
  43. Eric Schliesser, Hume's Newtonianism and Anti-Newtonianism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    David Hume's philosophy, especially the positive project of his science of man, is often thought to be modeled on Newton's successes in natural philosophy. Hume's self-described experimental method (see the subtitle to Treatise) and the resemblance of his rules of reasoning (Treatise, 1.3.15)1 with Newton's are said to be evidence for this position (Noxon 1973; De Pierris 2002). Hume encourages this view of his project by employing Newtonian metaphors: he talks of an attraction in the mental world on a par (...)
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  44. Eric Schliesser (2008). Review of Douglas Hedley, Sarah Hutton (Eds.), Platonism at the Origins of Modernity: Studies on Platonism and Early Modern Philosophy. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2008 (8).
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  45. Eric Schliesser (2008). Review of DD Raphael (2007). The Impartial Spectator: Adam Smith's Moral Philosophy and Leonidas Montes (2004) Adam Smith in Context. [REVIEW] Ethics 118:569-575.
     
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  46. Eric Schliesser, Without God: Gravity as a Relational Property of Matter in Newton.
    In this paper I interpret Newton’s speculative treatment of gravity as a relational, accidental property of matter that arises through what Newton calls “the shared action” of two bodies of matter. In doing so, I expand and extend on a hint by Howard Stein. However, in developing the details of my interpretation I end up disagreeing with Stein’s claim that for Newton a single body can generate a gravity/force field. I argue that when Newton drafted the first edition of the (...)
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  47. Eric Schliesser (2008). Wijsbegeerte Tussen Wetenschap En Moraal in Een Post-Newtoniaanse Wereld: Berkeley, Hume En Adam Smith. Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte 100 (3):244-246.
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  48. Décio Krause, Eric Schliesser & Hanne Andersen (2007). Book Reviews. [REVIEW] International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (3):345 – 357.
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  49. Eric Schliesser (2007). 'Hume's Newtonianism and Anti-Newtonianism', In: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. In Thaddeus Metz (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  50. Eric Schliesser (2007). Review of Knud Haakonssen (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Adam Smith. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2007 (8).
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