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Research

I am interested in theoretical physics read as a contribution to philosophy and am currently researching unsolved problems in natural philosophy in the early eighteenth century, in the wake of Newton's Principia.

News: Philosophical Mechanics in the Age of Reason (OUP), co-authored with Marius Stan, is out and available from OUP or via Amazon  

Get a preview. Read the Introduction and Conclusions here.

Areas of Research

  • 17th and 18th century physics (especially Descartes, Newton, Du Châtelet, d'Alembert and Euler)

  • Structuralist approaches to physics

  • Symmetries in physics

  • Noether's theorems

  • Hilbert, Einstein, Weyl and generally covariant physics

Current book project:

 

Philosophy and the physics within

If you've ever wondered why Descartes's Principles of Philosophy, of 1644, is still taught as a text in philosophy, whereas Newton's Mathematical Principles of Philosophy, of 1687, is not, and if you've ever wondered what philosophy looks like without this separation of physics from philosophy, then this is the book for you! It is, however, absurdly ambitious, in offering a re-telling from the late sixteenth century all the way up to the present day.

Books:

Emilie Du Châtelet and the Foundations of Physical Science (Routledge, 2019)

Available now from Routledge and via Amazon
The centerpiece of Émilie Du Châtelet’s philosophy of science is her Foundations of Physics, first published in 1740. The Foundations contains epistemology, metaphysics, methodology, mechanics, and physics, including such pressing issues of the time as whether there are atoms, the appropriate roles of God and of hypotheses in scientific theorizing, how (if at all) bodies are capable of acting on one another, and whether gravity is an action-at-a-distance force. Du Châtelet sought to resolve these issues within a single philosophical framework that builds on her critique and appraisal of all the leading alternatives (Cartesian, Newtonian, Leibnizian, and so forth) of the period. The text is remarkable for being the first to attempt such a synthetic project, and even more so for the accessibility and clarity of the writing. This book argues that Du Châtelet put her finger on the central problems that lay at the intersection of physics and metaphysics at the time, and tackled them drawing on the most up-to-date resources available. It will be a useful source for students and scholars interested in the history and philosophy of science, and in the impact of women philosophers in the early modern period.

Symmetries in Physics: Philosophical Reflections (OUP, 2003), co-edited with Elena Castellani

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