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: My book on Du Châtelet is out now with Routledge 

Available here: Routledge and via Amazon

Areas of Research

•  Descartes, Newton, Du Châtelet and beyond
•  Structuralist approaches to physics
•  Symmetries in physics
•  Noether's theorems
•  Hilbert, Einstein, Weyl
and generally covariant physics

Current book projects:


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.

Philosophical Mechanics

in the Age of Reason

Co-authored monograph with Marius Stan, supported by an ACLS collaborative fellowship.

Emilie Du Châtelet and the Foundations of Physical Science

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.

Contact information

Address: Department of Philosophy
201 West Duke Building
Campus Box 90743
Durham, NC 27708 U.S.A

© 2017 Thomas Bland