Newton began his Principia with three Axiomata sive Leges Motus. We offer an interpretation of Newton’s dual label and investigate two tensions inherent in his account of laws. The first arises from the juxtaposition of Newton’s confidence in the certainty of his laws and his commitment to their variability and contingency. The second arises because Newton ascribes fundamental status both to the laws and to the bodies and forces they govern. We argue the first is resolvable, but the second is (...) not. However, the second tension shows that Newton conceives laws as formal causes of bodies and forces. This neo-Aristotelian conception goes missing in Kantian accounts of laws, as well as accounts that stress laws’ grounding in powers and capacities. (shrink)
This paper is a critical response to Hylarie Kochiras’ “Gravity and Newton’s substance counting problem,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 40 267–280. First, the paper argues that Kochiras conflates substances and beings; it proceeds to show that Newton is a substance monist. The paper argues that on methodological grounds Newton has adequate resources to respond to the metaphysical problems diagnosed by Kochiras. Second, the paper argues against the claim that Newton is committed to two speculative doctrines attributed to (...) him by Kochiras and earlier Andrew Janiak: i) the passivity of matter and ii) the principle of local causation. Third, the paper argues that while Kochiras’ arguments about Newton’s metaphysical commitments are mistaken, it qualifies the characterization of Newton as an extreme empiricist as defended by Howard Stein and Rob DiSalle. In particular, the paper shows that Newton’s empiricism was an intellectual and developmental achievement that built on non trivial speculative commitments about the nature of matter and space.Keywords: Newton; Substance; Action at a distance; Space; Matter; Empiricism. (shrink)
It is argued that Adam Smith criticizes David Hume's account of the origin of and continuing adherence to the rule of law for being not sufficiently Humean. Hume explained that adherence to the rule of law originated in the self-interest to restrain self-interest. According to Smith, Hume does not pay enough attention to the passions of resentment and admiration, which have their source in the imagination. Smith's offers a more naturalistic and evolutionary account of the psychological pre-conditions of the establishment (...) and morality of justice than Hume had. Yet, Smith's account also makes room for a thin conception of Lockean natural right to property, while rejecting the contractualist and rationalistic elements in Locke. It emerges that Smith severs the intimate connection that Hobbes and Hume made between justice and property. (shrink)
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 (...) to settle debates within philosophy. What I emphasize is that in the progression from More to Clarke to Maclaurin, key Newtonian concepts from the Principia (1687), such as motion, atomism, and the vacuum, are introduced and exploited in order to challenge the account of matter and motion that is presented in Spinoza's Ethics (1677). Building on this treatment, I use the arguments from More and Clarke especially to help discern the anti-Spinozism that can be detected in Newton's General Scholium (1713). Ultimately, the Newtonian criticisms that I detail offer us a more nuanced view of the problems that plague Spinoza's philosophy, and they also challenge the idea that Spinoza seamlessly fits into a progressive narrative about the scientific revolution. (shrink)
I identify a set of interlocking views that became (and still are) very influential within philosophy in the wake of Newton’s success. These views use the authority of natural philosophy/mechanics to settle debates within philosophy. I label these “Newton’s Challenge.”.
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 (...) four interpretive options: (i) one approach is generic neo-Platonic; (ii) another approach is associated with the Cambridge Platonist, Henry More; a variant on this (ii*) emphasizes that Newton mixes Platonist and Epicurean themes; (iii) a necessitarian approach; (iv) an approach connected with Bacon’s efforts to reformulate a useful notion of form and laws of nature. Hitherto only the second and third options have received scholarly attention in scholarship on DeGrav. The paper offers new arguments to treat Newtonian emanation as a species of Baconian formal causation as articulated, especially, in the first few aphorisms of part two of Bacon’s New Organon. If we treat Newtonian emanation as a species of formal causation then the necessitarian reading can be combined with most of the Platonist elements that others have discerned in DeGrav, especially Newton’s commitment to doctrines of different degrees of reality as well as the manner in which the first existing being ‘transfers’ its qualities to space (as a kind of causa-sui). This can clarify the conceptual relationship between space and its formal cause in Newton as well as Newton’s commitment to the spatial extended-ness of all existing beings. While the first two sections of this paper engage with existing scholarly controversies, in the final section the paper argues that the recent focus on emanation has obscured the importance of Newton’s very interesting claims about existence and measurement in “DeGrav”. The paper argues that according to Newton God and other entities have the same kind of quantities of existence; Newton is concerned with how measurement clarifies the way of being of entities. Newton is not claiming that measurement reveals all aspects of an entity. But if we measure something then it exists as a magnitude in space and as a magnitude in time. This is why in DeGrav Newton’s conception of existence really helps to “lay truer foundations of the mechanical sciences.”. (shrink)
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 (...) sciences, Spinoza sided with those that criticized the aspirations of those (the physico-mathematicians, Galileo, Huygens, Wallis, Wren, etc) who thought the application of mathematics to nature was the way to make progress. In particular, he offers grounds for doubting their confidence in the significance of measurement as well as their piece-meal methodology (see section 2). Along the way, this chapter offers a new interpretation of common notions in the context of treating Spinoza’s account of motion (see section 3). (shrink)
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’, (...) can be seen and evaluated in their proper light. Hume has three motives for his attack on Newton: his work is informed by and gives cover to superstitious beliefs; his project is not useful to the public; and its success generates a challenge to the independent authority of philosophy. This essay consists of five sections. First, I discuss Hume’s attitude toward Newton. Newton claims that natural philosophy should be the foundation for other sciences, while in the ‘Introduction’ to the Treatise Hume asserts the supremacy of the ‘science of man’. For Hume the human sciences can attain the high epistemic status of ‘proof’, while much of the physical sciences must do with lower forms of ‘probability’. Furthermore, Hume’s ‘rules by which to judge of causes and effects’ do not replicate Newton’s fourth Rule; this opens a gap between the ontologies and methodologies of Newton and Hume. Moreover, Hume’s account of causation is designed to undercut the reductionist bias of natural philosophy. According to Hume the parts of natural sciences that go beyond common life can be evaluated from the point of view of the science of man. I end with remarks on the philosophic origins and significance of Hume’s attack on Newton’s natural philosophy. I depart from two independent traditions of interpreting Hume. One tradition makes many references to Newton’s influence on Hume. On a more detailed level, proponents of this view may call attention to Hume’s ‘rules’, his ‘Experiments’ and ‘Anatomy’, his method of investigation, the application of Newtonian metaphors works (e.g., an ‘attraction’ in the ‘mental world’ on a par with that in the ‘natural world’ – the principles of association are, then, analogous to the laws of motion). Hume’s ‘science of man’ is said to be inspired by Newton’s science of nature. Hume wants his readers to feel that he is modeling his project on the successes of natural philosophy, exemplified by Newton. In the ‘Introduction’ to the Treatise and more explicitly in the opening pages of EHU, Hume suggests that his ‘science of man’ can parallel recent achievements in natural philosophy (especially planetary astronomy). Thus, my claim is not that Newton did not figure importantly in Hume’s philosophy, but, instead, that Hume’s project is in many respects more hostile to Newton’s achievements – as available to well-informed eighteenth-century readers – than many recent interpreters have realized. There is a different tradition that argues Hume simply did not understand Newton. Hume’s philosophy, thus, cannot do justice to Newtonian science. Hume’s lack of mathematical competence is said to be a barrier to his understanding of Newton’s mathematical natural philosophy. One finds this attitude behind the cranking of Bayesian machinery in John Earman’s attack on Hume’s treatment ‘Of Miracles’. However, this tradition begs the question; it takes the authority of ‘science’ for granted in Hume. Against this second tradition I argue that Hume did understand salient features of Newton’s methodology and position, although in ways often unappreciated by the first tradition mentioned above. For example, in his comments on Newton in the History of England, Hume discerns the (broad) outlines of Newton’s commitment to the method of analysis and synthesis (see Newton’s Opticks, Query 31) and how it differs from Boyle’s methodology. So, Hume has a subtle understanding of Newton’s methodology – even if one were to grant that he lacks appreciation of the role of mathematics in Newton’s natural philosophy. Leaving open the question whether Hume understood all the details of Newton’s system, Hume’s departures from Newton are best interpreted not as ‘ironic’, but as philosophically motivated. (shrink)
(2005). Wonder in the face of scientific revolutions: Adam Smith on Newton's ‘Proof’ of Copernicanism. British Journal for the History of Philosophy: Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 697-732. doi: 10.1080/09608780500293042.
The Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics brings together cutting-edge writing by more than twenty leading authorities on the history of physics from the seventeenth century to the present day. By presenting a wide diversity of studies in a single volume, it provides authoritative introductions to scholarly contributions that have tended to be dispersed in journals and books not easily accessible to the general reader. While the core thread remains the theories and experimental practices of physics, the Handbook contains (...) chapters on other dimensions that have their place in any rounded history. These include the role of lecturing and textbooks in the communication of knowledge, the contribution of instrument-makers and instrument-making companies in providing for the needs of both research and lecture demonstrations, and the growing importance of the many interfaces between academic physics, industry, and the military. (shrink)
This article addresses the question how philosophy should be evaluated in a research-grant funding environment. It offers a new conception of philosophy that is inclusive and builds on familiar elements of professional, philosophical practice. Philosophy systematically questions the questions we ask, the concepts we use, and the values we hold. Its product is therefore rarely conclusive but can be embodied in everything we do. This is typical of explorative research and differentiates it from exploitative research, which constitutes the bulk of (...) funded research activity. This article argues that exploratory research is crucial for long-term progress and requires a distinct evaluative regime. (shrink)
In this article, the author offers a discussion of the evidential role of the Galilean constant in the history of physics. The author argues that measurable constants help theories constrain data. Theories are engines for research, and this helps explain why the Duhem-Quine thesis does not undermine scientific practice. The author connects his argument to discussion of two famous papers in the history of economic methodology, Milton Friedman's 'Methodology of Positive Economics', which appealed to example of Galilean Law of Fall (...) in its argument; and Vernon Smith's 'Economics in the Laboratory'. While the author offers some criticism of Friedman and Smith, most of the article is a friendly reinterpretation of their insights. (shrink)
This collection of specially commissioned essays by leading scholars presents research on Isaac Newton and his main philosophical interlocutors and critics. The essays analyze Newton's relation to his contemporaries, especially Barrow, Descartes, Leibniz and Locke and discuss the ways in which a broad range of figures, including Hume, Maclaurin, Maupertuis and Kant, reacted to his thought. The wide range of topics discussed includes the laws of nature, the notion of force, the relation of mathematics to nature, Newton's argument for universal (...) gravitation, his attitude toward philosophical empiricism, his use of 'fluxions', his approach toward measurement problems and his concept of absolute motion, together with new interpretations of Newton's matter theory. The volume concludes with an extended essay that analyzes the changes in physics wrought by Newton's Principia. A substantial introduction and bibliography provide essential reference guides. (shrink)
n recent years, there has been a resurgence of academic interest in Adam Smith. As a consequence, a large number of PhD dissertations on Smith have been written by international scholars - in different languages, and in many diverse disciplines, including economics, women’s studies, philosophy, science studies, political theory and english literature: diversity which has enriched the area of study. In response to this activity, and in order to making these contributions more easily accessible to other Smith scholars, Leonidas Montes (...) and Eric Schliesser have edited this important new book. Of interest to Smith scholars and those interested in the history of economic thought in general, the contributions to this book are self-consciously interdisciplinary and skilfully employ many different methodologies. (shrink)
The main aim of this paper is to explore why it is so important for Hume to defi ne ‘cause’ as he does. This will shed light on the signifi cance of the natural/philosophical relation (hereafter NPR) distinction in the Treatise. Hume's use of the NPR distinction allows him to dismiss on general grounds conceptions of causation at odds with his own. In particular, it allows him to avoid having to engage in detailed re-interpretation of potentially confl icting theories formulated (...) by natural philosophers. Moreover, it provides an instance of the normative nature of Hume's “science of man.” The paper argues that the NPR distinction - in conjunction with the so-called copy principle - is meant to undercut appeals to the authority of theories not founded on Hume's “principles.” In order to illustrate its claims about Hume, this essay explores some aspects of Newton's natural philosophy. Finally, this paper resolves a long-standing interpretive problem: how to reconcile Hume's two “defi nitions” of causation in the Treatise. (shrink)
This is the first volume of original commissioned papers on the subject of Newton and empiricism. The chapters, contributed by a leading team of both established and younger international scholars, explore the nature and extent of Newton's relationship to a variety of empiricisms and empiricists.
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 (...) criticism of Kail's argument for reading Hume "as a realist about the external world". The two parts are tied together because it turns out that Kail and I disagree about how Hume thinks of philosophers' activity generally.One caveat:. (shrink)
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.
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 (...) that the failure is related to a broader systematic problem: when properly understood, Friedman's methodology shows that positive economics is (in a non-trivial sense) enmeshed in values. In order to account for Friedman's overreaching, I turn to the charged social context regarding Friedman's purported involvement with the Chicago Boys, who were then serving Chilean Dictator Pinochet. I conclude by explaining why I re-open the old chestnut of values in positive science. The episode allows me to raise a question of fundamental import about the relationship between expertise and society. (shrink)
The main aim of this paper is to explore why it is so important for Hume to defi ne ‘cause’ as he does. This will shed light on the signifi cance of the natural/philosophical relation distinction in the Treatise. Hume's use of the NPR distinction allows him to dismiss on general grounds conceptions of causation at odds with his own. In particular, it allows him to avoid having to engage in detailed re-interpretation of potentially confl icting theories formulated by natural (...) philosophers. Moreover, it provides an instance of the normative nature of Hume's “science of man.” The paper argues that the NPR distinction - in conjunction with the so-called copy principle - is meant to undercut appeals to the authority of theories not founded on Hume's “principles.” In order to illustrate its claims about Hume, this essay explores some aspects of Newton's natural philosophy. Finally, this paper resolves a long-standing interpretive problem: how to reconcile Hume's two “defi nitions” of causation in the Treatise. (shrink)
When Christiaan Huygens prepared the 1686/1687 expedition to the Cape of Good Hope on which his pendulum clocks were to be tested for their usefulness in measuring longitude at sea, he also gave instructions to Thomas Helder to perform experiments with the seconds-pendulum. This was prompted by Jean Richer's 1672 finding that a seconds-pendulum is 1 1/4 lines shorter in Cayenne than in Paris. Unfortunately, Helder died on the voy¬age, and no data from the seconds-pendulum ever reached Huygens. He nevertheless (...) did receive data from his clocks on the return-voyage from the Cape of Good Hope to Texel. When he first calculated the ship's course according to these data, it appeared to have gone straight through Ireland. He then tried introducing a correction to the data, based on an idea he had previously entertained as a possible explanation of Richer's finding: he corrected the observed time to com¬pen¬sate for a reduction in the effect of gravity from the Poles to the Equator resulting purely from the Earth's rotation. His newly calculated course convinced him that this rotational effect is the sole source of any variations in gravity with latitude. This paper examines Huygens's correc¬tions to the data and his reasoning from the new course to the conclusion that nothing else causes a variation in gravity. In the process, we show that Huygens had cogent empirical reasons to reject Isaac Newton's theory of universal gravity, which predicted a some¬what larger variation in gravity. (shrink)
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 (...) with that in the natural world (184.108.40.206). Hume infers the existence of habits as a kind of mental force (EHU 5.2.2) analogous to gravity; the discovery of the the principles of association, which in thehe calls his most important achievement see the section on Association in the entry on Hume in this Encyclopedia, are, then, analogous to the laws of motion. Hume certainly appears to want his readers to feel that he is modeling his project on the successes of natural philosophy, exemplified by Newton. In the Introduction to the Treatise and even more explicitly in the opening pages of EHU (1.15), Hume suggests that his science of man can parallel recent achievements in natural philosophy (with rather obvious nods to Newton's successes in planetary astronomy). And at the start of EPM, he echoes Newton's rejection of hypotheses (1.10). There is, thus, no doubt that Hume wants his readers to believe that Newton forms a kind of model. (shrink)
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, (...) I first present detailed textual evidence of the familiarity of George Stigler with the early work of Talcott Parsons, the most important American translator and disseminator of Max Weber’s ideas, who also helped create sociology as a distinct discipline in the United States. The Chicago-Parsons link is no surprise because historians have known that Frank Knight and Parsons corresponded, first about translating Weber and then about matters of mutual interest. Knight, who was a doctoral advisor to Stigler and teacher of Milton Friedman, was not merely the first American translator of Weber, but remained keenly and, perhaps, increasingly interested in Weber throughout his life. I am unfamiliar with any investigation of the Weberian influence on Knight’s students. I show that Stigler praises Parsons’ treatment of Alfred Marshall, who plays an outsized role in Friedman’s self-conception of economics and economic theory. I also show that Stigler calls attention to the methodological similarity between Friedman and Parsons. Finally, I turn to F1953, and I show, first, that some of its most distinctive and philosophically interesting claims echo Parsons’ treatment of methodological matters; second that once alerted one can note Weberian terminology in F1953. (shrink)
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 (...) 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, but that the force of gravity is the actualization of that disposition; a necessary condition for the actualization of the disposition is the actual obtaining of a relation between two bodies having the disposition. The cause of gravity is not essential to matter because God could have created matter without that disposition. Nevertheless, at least a part of the cause of gravity inheres in individual bodies and were there one body in the universe it would inhere in that body. On the other hand, the force of gravity is neither essential to matter nor inherent in matter, because (to repeat) it is the actualization of a shared disposition. A lone part-less particle would, thus, not generate a gravity field. Seeing this allows us to helpfully distinguish among a) accepting gravity as causally real; b) the cause(s) (e.g. the qualities of matter) of the properties of gravity; c) making claims about the mechanism or medium by which gravity is transmitted. This will help clarify what Newton could have meant when he insisted that gravity is a real force. I present my argument in opposition to Andrew Janiak’s influential and fine 2007 paper. Along the way, I call attention to my disagreement with Janiak on a number of secondary issues (e.g. Janiak’s attribution to Newton of a distinction between ‘local’ and ‘distant’ action; Janiak’s reading of the “Letter to Bentley,” etc). (shrink)
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 (...) her account of the nature of philosophy in Spinoza. I argue it is less piecemeal and less akin to what we would recognize as 'science' than she suggests. Third, I argue against James's core commitment that Spinoza's three kinds of knowledge differ in degree; I claim they differ in kind. My argument will offer a new interpretation of Spinoza's conception of 'common notions'. Moreover, I argue that Spinozistic adequate knowledge involves something akin to angelic disembodiment. (shrink)
In this article, I argue that by discarding the significance of philosophical methods and tools, the picture of field philosophy offered in Socrates Tenured is more akin to public interest consulting than to philosophy.
I call attention to Berkeley’s treatment of a Newtonian indispensability argument against his own main position. I argue that the presence of this argument marks a significant moment in the history of philosophy and science: Newton’s achievements could serve as a separate and authoritative source of justification within philosophy. This marks the presence of a new kind of naturalism. A long the way, I argue against the claim tha t there is no explicit opposition or distinction between “philosophy” and “science” (...) until the nineteenth century. Finally, I argue for the conceptual unity between Berkeley’s immaterialism and instrumentalism. I argue that Berkeley’s commitment to immaterialism requires his reinterpretation of science and, thus, the adoption of instrumentalism. (shrink)
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 (...) The Theory of Moral Sentiments in order to argue that Smith is committed to group selection. Third, I argue that in Dissertation on Languages one can find building blocks for the claim that mind and language co-develop over time. More controversially I claim that in TMS there is a distinction between natural sentiments and moral sentiments. Natural sentiments are evolved (presumably through cultural selection) and moral sentiments are developed (through acculturation within society). Along the way, I argue that this distinction would have improved Darwin’s Descent of Man by blocking a move toward eugenics. (shrink)
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 (...) her account of the nature of philosophy in Spinoza. I argue it is less piecemeal and less akin to what we would recognize as ‘science’ than she suggests. Third, I argue against James's core commitment that Spinoza's three kinds of knowledge differ in degree; I claim they differ in kind. My argument will offer a new interpretation of Spinoza's conception of ‘common notions’. Moreover, I argue that Spinozistic adequate knowledge involves something akin to angelic disembodiment. (shrink)
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, (...) but that the force of gravity is the actualization of that disposition; a necessary condition for the actualization of the disposition is the actual obtaining of a relation between two bodies having the disposition. The cause of gravity is not essential to matter because God could have created matter without that disposition. Nevertheless, at least a part of the cause of gravity inheres in individual bodies and were there one body in the universe it would inhere in that body. On the other hand, the force of gravity is neither essential to matter nor inherent in matter, because (to repeat) it is the actualization of a shared disposition. A lone part-less particle would, thus, not generate a gravity field. (shrink)
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 (...) throughout Hume’s life) have not been carefully analyzed in light of the “Astronomy.” In the first five sections of this paper I offer a detailed analysis of all of Hume’s remarks on the Copernican system in his oeuvre. I show that David Hume believed that Copernicus achieved a “revolution” in philosophy. Moreover, I argue that Hume increasingly treats Galileo as the hero of the Copernican revolution. In doing so, Hume appears surprisingly blind to the importance of post-Galilean natural philosophy, especially the (dynamical) arguments that Huygens and Newton provided for the rotation of the Earth. In the last section of the paper, I argue that Adam Smith does show appreciation of dynamic views. I show that Smith and the mature Hume agree on the importance of Galileo, even describing his method in strikingly similar language, but that they evaluate the evidence differently in light of two conflicting commitments: i) Hume is committed to the “true philosophy”—-a certain kind of scepticism which Smith does not share; ii) Hume never seems to have assimilated the way Newton changed the evidential standards within science. (shrink)
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 (...) content, context, and reception of Nutter’s monograph, this paper discusses four larger themes. First, I introduce the importance of Kuhnian conceptions of science to the methodological and institutional understanding of economics in the development of a ‘Chicago’ school of economics. I do this in context of previously unpublished Stigler-Kuhn exchange. While Thomas Kuhn was widely read and adopted in the social sciences and humanities in the 1960s and 70s (and thereafter), I argue that at ‘Chicago,’ proto-Kuhnian language can be found going back to the 1940s; in those early days it is partly used to disparage the achievements of economic theorizing as promoted by others. A more self-congratulatory Kuhnian self-understanding of economics as a mature paradigm starts to get adopted around 1955 by George Stigler. One important new claim is that the later Kuhnian language gets adopted in part to divest ‘Chicago’ from its shared roots with Institutionalist economics. So, this paper contributes to a better understanding of the formation of a shared narrative at ‘Chicago.’ Second, I introduce contextual themes from Milton Friedman’s writings in the late 40s and 50s to help us understand the nature of realism at Chicago. Nutter’s dissertation helps in reading and illuminating Milton Friedman’s famous 1953 methodology paper in historical and intellectual context. Third, while this chapter notes some of the political ramifications of Chicago economics, my main aim is to help explain the manner in which Chicago attempted to chart a distinctive methodological course. This methodology has often been described as Marshallian with debts to the large-scale NBER studies. Rather than going over familiar territory, I call attention to the importance of proxies in Nutter’s empirical methodology. It is an unappreciated feature of the inductive, quantitative method that focused on the component structures of the economy that characterizes Chicago’s methodological outlook in this period. I show this by comparing Nutter’s dissertation to work done by Stigler, then at Columbia. We know from Stigler’s correspondence with Friedman that in this period they discussed methodological matters. What is less well known is that Friedman is explicitly credited for Stigler’s methodological insights in Stigler's Five Lectures at LSE. The fifth lecture, “Competition in the United States,” covers similar territory as Nutter’s project. Comparing the work by Stigler and Nutter sheds light on the nature of Chicago methodology as it was being developed away from foundations laid by Frank Knight and Henry Simons in the late 1940s and 1950s and opening up the door to (right wing) social engineering as exemplified by Harberger. I present my analysis through the published critical reception of both works among economists. A fourth reason to focus on Nutter’s dissertation is that it was featured in a Fortune magazine article in January 1952. So, it provides a useful entry into how politically important ‘Chicago’ research was marketed to a wider audience. This connects to issues explored by Phil Mirowski and his students, Rob van Horn and Eddie Nik-kah. So, Nutter’s dissertation can help us see how ‘sponsored’ research looks at ‘Chicago at the time. This is especially important because it has been claimed that Director’s Free Market Study group promoted a change from classically liberal views on monopoly, which condemned labor and employer monopolies, to a more pro-business stance. (shrink)