SYMPOSIUM on 'Experimental philosophy and the origins of empiricism' (Cambridge University Press, 2023) by Peter Anstey and Alberto Vanzo and 'Kant and the naturalistic turn of 18th Century philosophy' (Oxford University Press, 2022) by Catherine Wilson


20 November 2023, 2.00 - 6.00pm

Location: John Roberts Room (Fitzjames I), Merton College, Merton Street, Oxford OX1 4JD. (This is an accessible room. An accessibility guide for Merton College:

Peter Anstey (University of Sydney)
Catherine Wilson (emeritus, University of York)
Kirsten Walsh (University of Exeter)
Mogens Laerke (CNRS / ENS de Lyon / Maison Française d'Oxford)
Clara Carus (University of Oxford)
John Callanan (King's College, London)
Ingrid Schreiber (University of Oxford)


The session on Anstey and Vanzo's book will take place from 2 to 4pm, the session on Wilson's book from 4 to 6pm. Each session will consist of a précis by the author, commentaries, a response, and Q&A. You are welcome to attend either or both sessions. Please register by e-mailing (Mr) Eric Sheng at


Anstey and Vanzo's Experimental philosophy and the origins of empiricism is a history of experimental philosophy, one of the most important developments in early modern European intellectual history. The fruit of a research programme pursued over many years, the book follows the experimental philosophy movement (in England, Scotland, France, Germany and beyond) from its early history in the early Royal Society in the seventeenth century, through its heyday, to its eclipse in historiography in the age of Kant, and considers moral as well as natural philosophy. Challenging the received rationalism–empiricism distinction, the book aims to provide a new framework for understanding early modern philosophy and science.


Wilson's Kant and the naturalistic turn of 18th Century philosophy applies a contextualist method to Kant's philosophy, more commonly studied as a self-contained system or in relation to a few earlier rationalist and empiricist philosophers. Ranging widely in Enlightenment psychology, anthropology, biology, natural history and cosmology, Wilson's account aims to show how many of the major themes of Kant's theoretical and practical philosophy are motivated by disquiet about trends towards naturalism and pessimistic hedonism in 18th-century thought. Topics include Kant's transcendental idealism and his views on matter and mind, life, freedom, moral motivation, human nature and diversity, and war and human extinction.