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Profile: Jeffrey McDonough (Harvard University)
  1. Jeffrey K. McDonough, Leibniz's Philosophy of Physics. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    entry for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) This entry will attempt to provide a broad overview of the central themes of Leibniz’s philosophy of physics, as well as an introduction to some of the principal arguments and argumentative strategies he used to defend his positions. It tentatively includes sections entitled, The Historical Development of Leibniz’s Physics, Leibniz on Matter, Leibniz’s Dynamics, Leibniz on the Laws of Motion, Leibniz on Space and Time. A bibliography arranged by topic is also included. (...)
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  2. Jeffrey K. McDonough (2007). Leibniz: Creation and Conservation and Concurrence. The Leibniz Review 17:31-60.
    In this paper I argue that the hoary theological doctrine of divine concurrence poses no deep threat to Leibniz’s views on theodicy and creaturely activity even as those views have been traditionally understood. The first three sections examine respectively Leibniz’s views on creation, conservation and concurrence, with an eye towards showing their sys­tematic compatibility with Leibniz’s theodicy and metaphysics. The fourth section takes up remaining worries arising from the bridging principle that conservation is a continued or continuous creation, and argues (...)
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  3.  36
    Jeffrey K. McDonough (2008). Leibniz's Two Realms Revisited. Noûs 42 (4):673-696.
    Leibniz speaks, in a variety of contexts, of there being two realms—a "kingdom of power or efficient causes" and "a kingdom of wisdom or final causes." This essay explores an often overlooked application of Leibniz's famous "two realms doctrine." The first part turns to Leibniz's work in optics for the roots of his view that nature can be seen as being governed by two complete sets of equipotent laws, with one set corresponding to the efficient causal order of the world, (...)
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  4.  30
    Jeffrey K. Mcdonough (2011). The Heyday of Teleology and Early Modern Philosophy. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 35 (1):179-204.
  5. Jeffrey K. McDonough (2007). Leibniz: Creation and Conservation and Concurrence. The Leibniz Review 17:31-60.
    In this paper I argue that the hoary theological doctrine of divine concurrence poses no deep threat to Leibniz’s views on theodicy and creaturely activity even as those views have been traditionally understood. The first three sections examine respectively Leibniz’s views on creation, conservation and concurrence, with an eye towards showing their sys- tematic compatibility with Leibniz’s theodicy and metaphysics. The fourth section takes up remaining worries arising from the bridging principle that conservation is a continued or continuous creation, and (...)
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  6. Jeffrey K. McDonough (2010). Leibniz's Optics and Contingency in Nature. Perspectives on Science 18 (4):432-455.
    Leibniz’s mature philosophical understanding of the laws of nature emerges rather suddenly in the late 1670’s to early 1680’s and is signaled by his embrace of three central theses.1 The first, what I’ll call the thesis of Contingency, suggests that the laws of nature are not only contingent, but, in some sense, paradigmatically contingent; they are supposed to provide insight into the very nature of contingency as Leibniz comes to understand it. The second, what I’ll call the thesis of Providence, (...)
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  7.  39
    Jeffrey K. McDonough (2008). Berkeley, Human Agency and Divine Concurrentism. Journal of the History of Philosophy 46 (4):pp. 567-590.
    This paper aims to offer a sympathetic reading of Berkeley’s often maligned account of human agency. The first section briefly revisits three options concerning the relationship between human and divine agency available to theistically minded philosophers in the medieval and early modern eras. The second argues that, of those three views, only the position of concurrentism is consistent with Berkeley’s texts. The third section explores Berkeley’s reasons for adopting concurrentism by highlighting three motivating considerations drawn from his larger philosophical system. (...)
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  8.  10
    Jeffrey K. McDonough (2016). Leibniz and the Foundations of Physics: The Later Years. Philosophical Review 125 (1):1-34.
    This essay offers an account of the relationship between extended Leibnizian bodies and unextended Leibnizian monads, an account that shows why Leibniz was right to see intimate, explanatory connections between his studies in physics and his mature metaphysics. The first section sets the stage by introducing a case study from Leibniz's technical work on the strength of extended, rigid beams. The second section draws on that case study to introduce a model for understanding Leibniz's views on the relationship between derivative (...)
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  9. John O'Leary-Hawthorne & Jeffrey K. McDonough (1998). Numbers, Minds, and Bodies: A Fresh Look at Mind-Body Dualism. Philosophical Perspectives 12 (S12):349-371.
    In this essay, we explore a fresh avenue into mind-body dualism by considering a seemingly distant question posed by Frege: "Why is it absurd to suppose that Julius Caesar is a number?". The essay falls into three main parts. In the first, through an exploration of Frege’s Julius Caesar problem, we attempt to expose two maxims applicable to the mind-body problem. In the second part, we draw on those maxims in arguing that “full blown dualism” is preferable to more modest, (...)
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  10.  60
    Jeffrey K. McDonough (2009). Leibniz on Natural Teleology and the Laws of Optics. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (3):505 - 544.
    This essay examines one of the cornerstones of Leibniz's defense of teleology within the order of nature. The first section explores Leibniz's contributions to the study of geometrical optics, and argues that his "Most Determined Path Principle" or "MDPP" allows him to bring to the fore philosophical issues concerning the legitimacy of teleological explanations by addressing two technical objections raised by Cartesians to non-mechanistic derivations of the laws of optics. The second section argues that, by drawing on laws such as (...)
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  11. Jeffrey K. McDonough, Comments on Roger Ariew's “Descartes and Leibniz as Readers of Suarez”.
    Comments on Roger Ariew’s “Descartes and Leibniz as Readers of Suarez," presented at Franscico Suarez, S.J.: Last Medieval or First Early Modern?, London, Ontario, University of Western Ontario, September 2008.
     
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  12. Jeffrey K. McDonough (2000). Defending the Refutation of Idealism. Southwestern Philosophy Review 17 (1):35-44.
    In his Kant and the Claims of Knowledge, Paul Guyer offers an influential reading of Kant’s famous “Refutation of Idealism.” Guyer’s reading has been widely praised as Kantian exegesis but less favorably received as an anti-skeptical line of argument worthy of contemporary interest. In this paper, I focus on defending the general thrust of Guyer’s reading as a response to Cartesian skepticism. The paper falls into two sections. The first section constructs Guyer’s central argument in three steps and gives it (...)
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  13. Jeffrey K. McDonough, Comments on Sukjae Lee's “Berkeley on the Activity of Spirits”.
    Comments on Sukjae Lee's "Berkeley on the Activity of Spirits," presented at Eastern Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, Baltimore, MD, December 2007.
     
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  14.  45
    Jeffrey K. McDonough (2003). A Rosa Multiflora by Any Other Name: Taxonomic Incommensurability and Scientific Kinds. Synthese 136 (3):337 - 358.
    The following paper attempts to explore, criticizeand develop Thomas Kuhn's mostmature – and surprisingly neglected – view ofincommensurability. More specifically, itfocuses on (1) undermining an influential picture ofscientific kinds that lies at the heartof Kuhn's understanding of taxonomic incommensurability;(2) sketching an alternativepicture of scientific kinds that takes advantage ofKuhn's partially developed theory ofdisciplinary matrices; and (3) using these two resultsto motivate revisions to Kuhn'stheory of taxonomic incompatibility, as well as, tothe purported bridge betweentaxonomic incompatibility and some of the traditionalproblems associated (...)
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  15.  46
    Jeffrey K. McDonough (2002). Hume's Account of Memory. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 10 (1):71 – 87.
    This essay attempts to provide a sympathetic reading of Hume’s often tangled discussion of memory in the Treatise. It divides into three main sections. The first section isolates three puzzles in Hume’s account of memory. The second section attempts to show how those puzzles arise as a result of Hume’s understandable failure to recognize a necessary connection between memory and causation. Finally, the third section looks at how the reading of Hume’s account of memory offered in the first two sections (...)
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  16.  13
    Jeffrey K. McDonough (2011). Penultimate Draft. Philosophy 35:179-204.
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  17.  61
    Jeffrey K. McDonough (2010). Leibniz and the Puzzle of Incompossibility: The Packing Strategy. Philosophical Review 119 (2):135-163.
    Confronting the threat of a Spinozistic necessitarianism, Leibniz insists that not all possible substances are compossible—that they can't all be instantiated together—and thus that not all possible worlds are compossible—that they can't all be instantiated together. While it is easy to appreciate Leibniz's reasons for embracing this view, it has proven difficult to see how his doctrine of incompossibility might be reconciled with the broader commitments of his larger philosophical system. This essay develops, in four sections, a novel solution to (...)
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  18.  4
    Peter Forshaw & Jeffrey K. McDonough (2008). JHP Announcements. Journal of the History of Philosophy 46 (1):185-86.
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  19.  29
    Jeffrey K. McDonough (2013). Leibniz's Conciliatory Account of Substance. Philosophers' Imprint 13 (6).
    This essay offers an alternative account of Leibniz’s views on substance and fundamental ontology. The proposal is driven by three main ideas. First, that Leibniz’s treatment should be understood against the backdrop of a traditional dispute over the paradigmatic nature substance as well as his own overarching conciliatory ambitions. Second, that Leibniz’s metaphysics is intended to support his conciliatory view that both traditional views of substance are tenable in at least their positive and philosophical respects. Third, that the relationship between (...)
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  20. Jeffrey K. McDonough (forthcoming). Descartes' "Dioptrics" and Descartes' Optics. In Larry Nolan (ed.), The Cambridge Descartes Lexicon. Cambridge
    The Dioptrique, often translated as the Optics or, more literally, as the Dioptrics is one of Descartes’ earliest works. Likely begun in the mid to late 1620’s, Descartes refers to it by name in a letter to Mersenne of 25 November 1630 III, 29). Its subject matter partially overlaps with Descartes’ more foundational project The World or Treatise on Light in which he offers a general mechanistic account of the universe including the formation, transmission, and reception of light. Although Galileo’s (...)
     
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  21. Jeffrey K. McDonough, Comments on Andy Egan’s "Second-Order Predication and the Metaphysics of Properties".
    Comments on Andy Egan’s "Second-Order Predication and the Metaphysics of Properties," presented at California State University Long Beach, CA 2003.
     
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  22.  31
    Jeffrey K. McDonough (2011). Leibniz: Body, Substance, Monad (Review). Journal of the History of Philosophy 49 (3):380-381.
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  23. Jeffrey K. McDonough, Comments on Daniel Garber's Metaphysics and Theology: The Role of the Monadology in Leibniz's Essais de Théodicée.
    In his rich and engaging essay, Professor Garber asks most centrally, “…what was the relation between Leibniz’s metaphysical project as set out in the so-called ‘Monadologie’ and the more theological project in the Essais de Théodicée?” His answer is, in short, that there isn’t much of a relationship between these two great works. Furthermore, he takes this result to be evidence of Leibniz’s not being a systematic philosopher in the spirit of Descartes or Spinoza. In these brief comments, I revisit (...)
     
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  24.  10
    Jeffrey K. McDonough (2000). Rough Drafts Without Tears. Teaching Philosophy 23 (2):127-137.
    In writing papers, students confront two obstacles. First, they may not know what philosophical writing is, mistaking an extended statement of their opinion for a philosophy paper. Second, some students lack certain key writing skills and so have difficulty organizing and conveying their view on a philosophical issue. In addition to reading good philosophical works, students need practice writing, editing, and revising their work and so rough drafts become a key component in teaching philosophical writing. This paper outlines the traditional (...)
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  25.  1
    Jeffrey K. Mcdonough (2009). Leibniz on Natural Teleology and the Laws of Optics. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (3):505-544.
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  26. Jeffrey K. McDonough, Translated By.
    Hypothesis 1. All color is an impression on the sensorium, not a certain quality in things, but an extrinsic denomination, or, as Thomas Hobbes says, a phantasm.
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  27. Jeffrey K. McDonough (2007). Leibniz: Creation and Conservation and Concurrence. Leibniz Society Review 17:31-60.
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  28. John O'Leary-Hawthorne & Jeffrey K. McDonough (1998). Numbers, Minds, and Bodies: A Fresh Look at Mind-Body Dualism. Noûs 32 (S12):349-371.
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