Alan Nelson works primarily in early modern philosophy. This year he is teaching a graduate course on Locke and Kant and another on Descartes. 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) in Primary 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; Descartes on Logic and Knowledge" in A Companion to Early Modern Philosophy ed. by Kaufman (2013, Routledge); "Philosophical Systems and their History" in Philosophy and its History, ed. by Laerke, Smith, and Schliesser, (2013, Oxford UP); Descartes's Logic and the Paradox of Deduction," (with Brian Rogers) in The Giants of Early Modern Philosophy ed. by Easton (forthcoming). “Descartes’ Dualism and its Relation to Spinoza’s Metaphysics,” forthcoming 2014 in The Cambridge Companion to Descartes’ Meditations. D. Cunning (ed.). Cambridge University Press; “Conceptual Distinctions and the Concept of Substance in Descartes,” forthcoming 2014 in Protosociology; “Early Modern Theories of Truth,” forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of Truth. M. Glanzberg (ed.) Oxford: Oxford University Press; “The Problem of True Ideas in Spinoza’s Treatise,” forthcoming in The Young Spinoza. Y. Melamed, (ed.) Oxford: Oxford University Press; “Descartes on Logic and Knowledge.” Forthcoming 2014 in A Companion to Seventeenth Century Philosophy, Dan Kaufman ed., Routledge.