I specialize in early modern philosophy, understood as ranging roughly from the late 16th century through the 18th-Century. Topically, my research investigates how conceptions of being and knowledge shape ethical and political theories in early modernity, questions that often find me exploring philosophy of religion and philosophy of science. My current work is divided between the philosophy of the Pascal siblings (Blaise and Jacqueline Pascal) and Mary Shepherd. I also have published on Hobbes, Descartes, Leibniz, and John Amos Comenius.
I am presently working on a monograph, Pascalian Metaphysics. While Blaise Pascal is not typically known as a metaphysician, metaphysics are crucial for understanding his epistemology and ethics. Though his preferred mode is religious, Pascal’s ontology allows for a two-tiered philosophy that leaves a path for living well and scientific inquiry independent of religious belief. Part of my research looks at Pascal’s reception, how those closest to him were reading his work. I will spend the Summer of 2022 in French and Scottish archives exploring these connections.
I also have coauthored work on Jacqueline Pascal's theory of autonomy with Dwight Lewis and have an annotated volume The Philosophical Writings of Blaise and Jacqueline Pascal under contract with Hackett Publishing. Coedited with Aaron Spink and Roger Ariew, it includes previously untranslated works as well as new translations of existing material based on newer manuscripts.
I am also writing on Mary Shepherd's metaphysics and philosophy of religion. Cosmological arguments commonly defend God’s existence by denying an infinite regress. In Shepherd’s first Essay, she presents and defends two of these arguments: one by arguing that the universe is infinite, and the other a physiological argument from vitality.
She acknowledges that demonstrating a first cause, however, does not tell us the nature of that cause. To respond to this, in her second Essay she provides a novel teleological argument that, within the framework of her metaphysics, overcomes Hume’s criticisms of teleological arguments while also anticipating Darwinian objections. These are concurrent projects, though I anticipate publishing on her cosmological argument first.