Alan Nelson

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alan nelson
Harold J. Glass USAF Distinguished Term Professor
Director of Graduate Studies
109C Caldwell Hall
(919) 780-4558 (phone)

Alan Nelson works primarily in early modern philosophy.  This year he is teaching a graduate course on Spinoza and another on Wittgenstein.  In recent years, Nelson  has directed dissertations on Leibniz, Spinoza, Newton, Berkeley, Hume, Mental Causation, Descartes, and Locke.


Representative publications include: “Cartesian Actualism in the Leibniz-Arnauld Correspondence,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy(1993); “How Could Scientific Facts be Socially Constructed?” Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science (1994); “Micro-chaos and Idealization in Cartesian Physics,” Philosophical Studies (1995); “The Falsity in Sensory Ideas: Descartes and Arnauld,” Interpreting Arnauld,ed. by Kremer (1996. U. of Toronto Press); “Descartes’ Ontology of Thought,” Topoi (1997); “Circumventing Cartesian Circles,” (with Lex Newman) Noûs (1999); “Cognition and Modality in Descartes,” (with David Cunning) Acta Philosophica Fennica (1999); “Two Concepts of Idealisation in Economics,” The Economic World View, ed. by Maki (2001, Cambridge UP); “The Rationalist Impulse,” “Leibniz on Modality, Cognition, and Expression,” and “Proust and the Rationalist Conception of the Self,” A Companion to Rationalism, ed. by Nelson (2005, Blackwell); “Proofs for the Existence of God,” (with Larry Nolan) A Guide to Descartes’ Meditations ed. by Gaukroger (2005, Blackwell); “Cartesian Innateness,” A Companion to Descartes ed. by Broughton and Carriero (2008, Blackwell);  “Divisibility and Cartesian Extension,” (with Kurt Smith) Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, 2010: 1-24; “Qualities and Simple Ideas: Hume and his Debt to Berkeley” (with David Landy) inPrimary and Secondary Qualities ed by Nolan (2011, Oxford UP); “How Many Worlds?,” British Journal for History of Philosophy (2011); “The Structure of Cartesian Sensations,” Analytic Philosophy, (2013); “Philosophical Systems and their History” in Philosophy and its History, ed. by Laerke, Smith, and Schliesser, (2013, Oxford UP); “Conceptual Distinctions and the Concept of Substance in Descartes,” Protosociology (2013); Logic and Knowledge,” in A Companion to Early Modern Philosophy  ed. by Kaufman (2014, Routledge); “Descartes’ Dualism and its Relation to Spinoza’s Metaphysics,” The CambridgCompanion to Descartes’ Meditations,(2014Cambridge UP; “Cartesian Circle” and “Ideas” forthcoming 2014 inThe Cambridge Descartes Lexicon, L. Nolan, ed., Cambridge UP;  “Early Modern Theories of Truth,” forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of Truth. M. Glanzberg (ed.) OUP; “The Problem of True Ideas in Spinoza’s Treatise,” forthcoming in The Young Spinoza. Y. Melamed, (ed.) OUP.

Curriculum Vitae


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