Research

My primary research is on the continuing dialogue between empiricism and the exact sciences, from Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, to 19th century thinkers like Helmholtz and Mach, to the Logical Empiricists, to contemporary philosophers. I am more broadly concerned with the integration of classical empiricist questions about empirical rationality, how the rational contribution of experience may be formally characterized, and what all this tells us about the role of experience in a plausible account of epistemic progress (including our scientific knowledge, especially in classical physics).

I maintain that we can and ought to develop a working empiricist epistemology that serves several masters at once. It ought to say something about the rational contribution of experience to knowledge (and not just the causal role of experience in the generation of beliefs); it ought to show that there is continuity between common sense and scientific views of the world; and lastly, it ought to help unify traditional concerns in general epistemology with epistemological concerns in post-Positivist philosophy of science. I have called an empiricism that can do all of this “Comprehensive Empiricism”.

For more details, see my paper “An Empirical Analysis of Perceptual Judgments: Reason and Reformed Empiricism” (in “Publications”) for a defense of Anil Gupta’s Reformed Empiricism as a framework for this unified and comprehensive epistemology. My dissertation (also in “Publications”) gives one an idea of my earlier attempts to develop Comprehensive Empiricism.

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