Curriculum Vitae Lisa J. Downing
- Princeton University, 1986–1991
- M.A. in philosophy, 1989
- Ph. D. in philosophy, 1992
- Dissertation: Berkeley’s Dynamical Instrumentalism
- Supervisor: Margaret Wilson
- Washington University (St. Louis), 1982–1986
- B.A. summa cum laude in philosophy, 1986
- Professor, Department of Philosophy, The Ohio State University, 2006–present.
- Associate professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1999–2006.
- Visiting associate professor, Department of Philosophy, Northwestern University, Winter 2005.
- Visiting associate professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago, Winter 2002.
- Assistant professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania, 1993–1999.
- Assistant professor, Department of Philosophy, Yale University, 1992–1993.
Areas of specialization
- History of early modern philosophy
- 17th- and 18th-century natural philosophy and philosophy of science
Areas of competence
- Philosophy of science
- History of philosophy
Awards and fellowships
- NEH Fellowship, awarded December 2006, fellowship tenure 2008–09.
- Faculty Fellow, Institute for the Humanities, University of Illinois at Chicago, for the academic year 2000–2001. (This fellowship provides a full year’s leave from teaching duties.)
- Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow of the Huntington Library, San Marino CA, Summer 2000.
- Summer research grant from the Trustees Council of Penn Women, for Summer 1998.
- Senior fellowship at the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology, M.I.T., Cambridge, Massachusetts, for the Fall semester 1996.
- Grant from the Foundation for Intellectual History to participate in the ten-day Conference on Late Medieval and Early Modern Corpuscular Matter Theory, St. Andrews, Scotland, August 1996.
- Grant from the University Research Foundation, University of Pennsylvania, Summer 1996.
- Colin and Ailsa Turbayne International Berkeley Essay Prize, April 1992 (This is an annual prize, administered by the University of Rochester and carrying an award of $1000, for the best unpublished essay on Berkeley’s philosophy.)
- Dissertation year award from Mellon Foundation, January 1990 – December 1991.
- Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, September 1986 – August 1988.
- Compton Fellowship, a 4-year full-tuition merit scholarship for undergraduate study in the natural sciences at Washington University, September 1982 – May 1986.
- “Maupertuis on Attraction as an Inherent Property of Matter,” forthcoming in Interpreting Newton, eds. A. Janiak and E. Schliesser (Cambridge), 32pp.
- “Mechanism and Essentialism in Locke’s Thought,” forthcoming in The Key Debates of Modern Philosophy (Routledge), eds. Antonia LoLordo and Stewart Duncan, 18pp.
- “Sensible qualities and material bodies in Descartes and Boyle,” in Primary and Secondary Qualities: the Historical and Ongoing Debate, ed. Larry Nolan (Oxford 2011), 109–135.
- “Locke: the primary and secondary quality distinction,” in The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics, ed. R. Le Poidevin, Routledge 2009, 98-108.
- “The ‘sensible object’ and the ‘uncertain philosophical cause’,” in Kant and the Early Moderns, eds. Daniel Garber and Béatrice Longuenesse, Princeton 2008, 100-116.
- “Locke’s Ontology,” in The Cambridge Companion to Locke’s Essay, ed. Lex Newman, Cambridge 2007, 352–380.
- “Berkeley’s Natural Philosophy and Philosophy of Science,” in The Cambridge Companion to Berkeley, ed. Kenneth Winkler, Cambridge 2005, 230–265.
- “Occasionalism and Strict Mechanism: Malebranche, Berkeley, Fontenelle,” in Early Modern Philosophy: Mind, Matter, and Metaphysics, eds. Christia Mercer and Eileen O’Neill, Oxford 2005, 206–230.
- “Old History and Introductory Teaching in Early Modern Philosophy,” in Teaching New Histories of Philosophy, ed. J.B. Schneewind, Trustees of Princeton University 2004, 19–28.
- “George Berkeley,” in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://plato.stanford.edu/, 2004, 37pp.
- “Robert Boyle,” in A Companion to Early Modern Philosophy, ed. Steven Nadler, Blackwell 2002, 338–353.
- “The Uses of Mechanism: Corpuscularianism in Drafts A and B of Locke’s Essay,” in Late Medieval and Early Modern Corpuscularian Matter Theory, eds. William Newman, John Murdoch, Cristoph Lüthy, E.J. Brill 2001, pp. 515–534.
- “The Status of Mechanism in Locke’s Essay,” The Philosophical Review 107 (1998), 381–414.
- “Berkeley,” in A Companion to the Philosophers, ed. Robert L. Arrington, Blackwell 1998, 169–174.
- “Locke’s Newtonianism and Lockean Newtonianism,” Perspectives on Science 5 (1997), 285–310.
- “Berkeley’s Case Against Realism About Dynamics,” in Berkeley’s Metaphysics, ed. Robert Muehlmann, Penn State 1995, 197–214.
- “Siris and the Scope of Berkeley’s Instrumentalism,” The British Journal for the History of Philosophy 3 (1995), 279–300.
- “Some Properties of Acid-Reassembled Tropomyosin” (authors: Marilyn Emerson Holtzer, Lisa J. Downing, Alfred Holtzer), Biopolymers 35 (1995), 239–244.
- “Are Corpuscles Unobservable in Principle for Locke?,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 30 (1992), 33–51.
- Review of Andrew Janiak’s Newton as Philosopher (Cambridge 2008), for The Philosophical Review 120 (2011).
- Review of Michael Ben-Chaim’s Experimental Philosophy and the Birth of Empirical Science: Boyle, Locke, and Newton (Ashgate 2004), for Isis 98 (2007), 625–626.
- Review of Dennis Des Chene’s Spirits and Clocks: Machine and Organism in Descartes (Cornell 2001), for The Philosophical Review 113 (2004), 5pp.
- Review of Peter Anstey’s The Philosophy of Robert Boyle (Routledge 2000), for The British Journal for the History of Philosophy 11 (2003), 342–345.
- Review of Interpreting Arnauld, ed. Elmar J. Kremer (Toronto 1996), for the Journal of the History of Philosophy 37 (1999), 365–366.
- Review of The Cambridge Companion to Locke, ed. Vere Chappell (Cambridge 1994), The Philosophical Review 105 (1996), 120–122.
- Review of Stephen Nadler’s Malebranche and Ideas (Oxford 1992) and Patrick Riley’s edition of Malebranche’s Treatise on Nature and Grace (Oxford 1992), The Philosophical Review 104 (1995), 122–125.
- Review of Robert Muehlmann’s Berkeley’s Ontology (Hackett 1992), Journal of the History of Philosophy 32 (1994), 309–311.
- Review of Daniel Garber’s Descartes Metaphysical Physics (Chicago 1992), Review of Metaphysics 47 (1993), 146–147.
Work in progress
Empiricism and Newtonianism: Locke, Berkeley, and the Decline of Strict Mechanism, a book manuscript. Empiricism and Newtonianism provides a philosophical analysis of the controversy over Newton’s dynamics, in particular his theory of gravity, as it was played out in the early eighteenth century. This controversy was generated by the apparent conflict between strict mechanism and Newton’s appeal to attraction in his Principia Mathematica. Strict mechanism, as established most notably by Descartes and Boyle, asserts that bodies possess a very limited number of qualities: size, shape, motion, and perhaps solidity. All other apparent qualities of bodies are held to be reducible to this very short list of primary qualities. Thus understood, bodies are fundamentally passive. Indeed, strict mechanism specifically maintains that bodies cannot be characterized as intrinsically possessing any active qualities. Now, what should count as an active quality was to some extent a disputed question, but minimally strict mechanism rules out attributing to bodies any ability to self-move, to cause new motion, to attract, to repel, or to act in any way at a distance. Newton’s dynamics faced opposition and provoked foundational debate precisely because it was interpreted as supporting a dynamic conception of nature in conflict with the tenets of strict mechanism.
The book focuses especially on those defenders of Newton who sought to sever the philosophical foundations that had been supplied for strict mechanism and so to eliminate grounds for criticizing Newtonian gravity. They did so primarily, not by straightforwardly arguing for a dynamic conception of nature, but rather by arguing for a separation between physics and metaphysics, and, in parallel, connecting scientific explanation to the establishment of regularity or law-likeness rather than to the identification of causes (both doctrines traditionally associated with twentieth-century positivism). It is this Newtonian strategy that lies at the heart of the book. Thus, one main aim of the book is to provide a philosophical understanding of a crucial moment in the history of modern western philosophy and science, a moment where physics and metaphysics are pushed apart. In the course of doing so, I accomplish the second main aim of the book, which is to provide an original account of the natural philosophy and philosophy of science of Locke and Berkeley. Treating Locke in this context reveals the limited nature of Locke’s commitment to mechanism, and enables an understanding of his historical influence on Newtonianism. Here I shed some light on what Alexander Koyré has enigmatically described as the “curious mingling” of Newtonianism with Locke’s philosophy in the eighteenth century. Placing Berkeley in this context permits a proper appreciation of both the strength of his instrumentalist philosophy of science and its status as a response to the contemporary Newtonian problem; Berkeley’s De Motu, I argue, provides the early eighteenth century’s most powerful and coherent case for separating physics from metaphysics and reconstruing scientific explanation.
Berkeley, an introduction to Berkeley’s philosophical views and arguments, under contract for the series The Routledge Philosophers.
“Locke and Cartesianism,” solicited for inclusion in A Companion to Locke, ed. Matthew Stuart, Blackwell. (Drafted.)
“Efficient Causation in Malebranche and Berkeley,” solicited for inclusion in Efficient Causation (Oxford Philosophical Concepts), ed. Tad Schmaltz.
- “Malebranche and Berkeley: Restricting the Domain of Efficient Causation”
- Workshop on Efficient Causation: The History of the Concept, University of Michigan, May 2011.
- “Newton among some Newtonians (and one anti-Newtonian): Comments on Andrew Janiak’s Newton as Philosopher”
- Author meets critics symposium paper, Pacific Division APA Meetings, San Diego, April 2011.
- “The ‘tangue of the Cask’: Locke contra Descartes on mind, body, and dualism”
- University of Toronto, Department of Philosophy, December 2010.
- “Locke’s Metaphysics and Newtonian Metaphysics”
- University of Guelph, Department of Philosophy, December 2010.
- Margaret Wilson Conference, University of Colorado, June 2010.
- Invited speaker, Conference on Empiricism and Newtonianism, Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, April 2010.
- Invited symposium paper, Central Division APA meetings, Chicago, March 2010.
- University of South Carolina, Department of Philosophy, February 2010.
- “Beasts, Thinking Matter, and Determinism: Comments on LoLordo’s ‘Power, Causation, and Activity’”
- Invited senior commentator, SPAWN (Syracuse Philosophy Annual Workshop and Network) 2009: Nature and Purpose in Early Modern Philosophy.
- “Locke Contra Cartesian Ontology”
- Brown University, Department of Philosophy, May 2009.
- “Maupertuis on Attraction as an Inherent Property of Matter”
- HOPOS 2008, 7th Biennial Congress of the International Society for the History of the Philosophy of Science, Vancouver, June 2008.
- University of Minnesota, Minnesota Center for the Philosophy of Science, April 2008.
- “Rationalism, Empiricism, and Mechanism in Locke”
- Keynote address, Ohio Philosophical Association Meeting, Granville Ohio, April 2008.
- Invited symposium paper, Central Division APA meetings, Chicago, April 2007.
- Invited paper, Otago/Sydney Early Modern Seminar, Dunedin New Zealand, October 2007.
- “Superaddition, Causal Powers, and Essences in Locke”
- Invited symposium paper, Eastern Division APA meetings, Washington D.C., December 2006.
- “Superadding Thought to Matter”
- Oxford University, Oxford Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy, October 2005.
- University of Massachusetts, January 2005.
- University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, Department of Philosophy, September 2005.
- “Stripping Bodies to their Essence: Sensory Qualities and Geometrical Bodies in Descartes”
- Invited paper, New England Colloquium in Early Modern Philosophy, Yale University, June 2007.
- University of Cincinnati, Department of Philosophy, January 2004.
- University of Notre Dame, History and Philosophy of Science program, November 2003.
- “The ‘sensible object’ and the ‘uncertain philosophical cause’ in Locke’s Essay”
- Harvard University, Department of Philosophy, February 2004.
- Duke University, Department of Philosophy, April 2004.
- Princeton University, Conference on Kant and the Early Moderns, May 2004.
- Comments, Session on the History of Philosophy from Descartes to Kant
- Conference on Teaching New Histories of Philosophy, Princeton University, April 2003.
- “Newton and Thinking Matter”
- HOPOS 2002, Fourth Biennial Congress of the History of Philosophy of Science Working Group, Montreal, June 2002.
- “Mechanism and the Threat of Thinking Matter”
- Workshop on Mechanism, Materialism, and the Mental, Rutgers University, November 2001.
- “Stripping Bodies to their Essence: Sensory Qualities and Geometrical Bodies in Descartes”
- University of Southern California, Department of Philosophy, October 2001.
- Northern Illinois University, Department of Philosophy, September 2001.
- “Knowing Nature: from Scientia to Experimental Philosophy”
- Locke symposium, Turning Points: International Society for Intellectual History conference, Chicago, September 2000.
- “Occasionalism and Strict Mechanism: Malebranche, Berkeley, Fontenelle”
- The Ohio State University, Conference on Modern Philosophy, May 2000.
- University of California Irvine, California Conference on Early Modern Philosophy, July 2000.
- “Berkeley and Malebranche: Occasionalism, Mechanism, and Newtonianism”
- University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Department of Philosophy, March 2000.
- “Berkeley and Malebranche on the Aims of Natural Philosophy”
- Northwestern University, History and Philosophy of Science, November 1999.
- “Visual Language and the Grammar of Nature”
- International Berkeley Society Conference, Newport RI, April 1999.
- “Locke’s Primary/Secondary Quality Distinction: Mechanism and Metaphysics”
- M.I.T., Department of Philosophy, April 1998.
- Syracuse University, Department of Philosophy, October 1998.
- “Clarke and Bentley on Gravity, God’s Action, and Body’s Passivity”
- Second History of Philosophy of Science Conference, Notre Dame, March 1998.
- “The Intellectual Context of Berkeley’s Instrumentalism”
- Eastern Division APA Meetings, Philadelphia PA, December 1997.
- “In What Sense was Hume a Newtonian?: Comments on Ken Richman’s ‘Hume’s Alleged Newtonianism’”
- 24th Hume Conference, Monterey CA, August 1997.
- “Berkeley’s De Motu in its Newtonian Context”
- The Early Science Group co-sponsored by Harvard and Brandeis Universities, Cambridge MA, April 1997.
- “Locke and Newtonianism: the Question of Gravity”
- Dibner Institute for the History of Science, M.I.T., Cambridge MA, October 1996.
- “John Locke and Corpuscularianism”
- Conference on Late Medieval and Early Modern Corpuscular Matter Theory, St. Andrews, Scotland, August 1996.
- “Locke on Corpuscularianism: Its Status, Uniqueness, Limitations, and Implications”
- First History of Philosophy of Science conference, Roanoke VA, April 1996.
- “Berkeley on Newton and the Relation between Science and Metaphysics”
- Department of Philosophy, Swarthmore College, April 1996.
- “Berkeley’s Natural Philosophy and Philosophy of Science”
- Berkeley seminar, Department of Philosophy, Princeton University, March 1996.
- “The Status of Mechanism in Locke’s Essay”
- Pacific Division APA meetings, Seattle, April 1996.
- Department of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania, November 1995.
- Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium Philosophy of Science Reading Group, October 1995.
- “Reforming Dynamics: Berkeley’s De Motu,”
- Midwest Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy, Chicago, April 1995.
- Department of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania, February 1995.
- “Berkeley’s Challenge to Early Modern Dynamics”
- History of Science Society annual meeting, New Orleans, October 1994.
- “God’s Presence and Body’s Passivity”
- Northeast American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Conference (“Envisioning the Eighteenth Century”), New Haven, October 1993.
- “The Nature of Berkeley’s Anti-Realism in De Motu”
- Central Division APA meetings, Chicago, April 1993.
- “Siris and the Scope of Berkeley’s Instrumentalism,”
- Cornell University, Department of Philosophy, January 1993.
- M.I.T., Department of Philosophy, January 1993.
- University of Pennsylvania, Department of Philosophy, February 1993.
- Comments on Margaret Atherton, “External Existence: Lady Mary Shepherd on Berkeley”
- Central Division APA Meetings, Chicago, April 1993.
- “Berkeley’s Instrumentalism about Dynamics”
- International Berkeley Society, Eastern Division APA Meetings, New York, January 1992.
Selected professional activities
Member, Editorial Board, HOPOS: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science, University of Chicago Press, 2010-present.
Adviser to book series Oxford Philosophical Concepts, July 2010-present.
Nominating editor for The Philosopher’s Annual, 2010, 2011.
Member, APA Central Division Nominating Committee, 2009-2010.
Co-editor for Eighteenth Century Philosophy, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2004–present.
Chair, HOPOS Nominations and Elections Committee, 2010-2011.
Co-chair, Program Committee, HOPOS 2008, the seventh congress of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science, Vancouver, June 2008.
Co-editor of special edition of Perspectives on Science, papers from HOPOS 2008.
Member, APA Eastern Division Advisory Committee to the program committee, Summer 2008–present
Member-at-Large, APA Central Division Executive Committee, July 1 2007 – June 30, 2009.
- Oxford University Press
- Routledge Press
- Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy
- Journal of the History of Philosophy
- Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie
- Cambridge University Press
- Perspectives on Science
- Canadian Journal of Philosophy
- Pacific Philosophical Quarterly
- Early Science and Medicine
- Journal of Philosophical Research
Program committee member for the 2004 APA Central Division Meetings.
Program committee member for HOPOS 2002, a conference held in Montreal by the International Working Group on History of Philosophy of Science.
Program committee member for the Midwest Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy, Spring 2000, Spring 2001, Spring 2002, Fall 2003. Organized meeting at UIC, Spring 2004.
Philosophy Coordinator, International Berkeley Society, 1994-1998, 2001-2003.
- American Philosophical Association
- History of Science Society
- International Berkeley Society
- International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science