Philosophy 290-1

Spring 2005

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-1 Locke’s Essay McCann Th 2-4 234 Moses

We have two main aims in the seminar: first, to get a clear picture of the main elements of Locke’s mechanistic philosophy of nature (including substance, identity, primary and secondary qualities, real and nominal essences, and the nature of explanation), and second, to evaluate the anti-essentialist arguments that Locke gives against the Aristotelian/Scholastic doctrine of substantial forms both in terms of their effectiveness against their intended target and in terms of their applicability to modern-day versions of essentialism (primarily Kripke’s and Putnam’s). As regards the former, we will track similarities and differences between Locke’s views on these issues and those of his scientific mentor, Robert Boyle. We will also briefly consider some background issues in Locke’s epistemology (for example, the rejection of innate ideas, the general theory of ideas and the question of indirect or representative realism), but the main focus will be on topics in metaphysics and the philosophy of science.