Peter Anstey

  • Professor of Philosophy, University of Sydney


He specializes in early modern philosophy and, in particular, the philosophy of John Locke and Robert Boyle. His Australian Research Council project focused on ‘The nature and status of principles in early modern philosophy’, including principles in natural philosophy, logic, and moral philosophy. He is also researching early modern experimental philosophy and runs a blog Early Modern Experimental Philosophy based at the University of Otago. He is currently editing (with Lawrence Principe, Johns Hopkins) John Locke: Writings on Natural Philosophy and Medicine for the Clarendon edition of Locke’s Works. His authored and edited books include John Locke and Natural Philosophy (Oxford 2011), The Philosophy of Robert Boyle (Routledge 2000), Experiment, Speculation and Religion in Early Modern Philosophy (Routledge 2019), The Idea of Principles in Early Modern Thought: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Routledge 2017), and The Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century (Oxford 2013).

Academic biography

Research topics

I work mainly in the field of early modern philosophy. 

  1. At the moment my main research focus is on how the notion of principles dominated thinking in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries about how we acquire knowledge. (Just think of how many books have the term ‘principle’ in their title: Descartes’ Principles of Philosophy, Newton’s Principia, Hume’s Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals.) 
  2. I am also engaged in two large editing projects: John Locke’s writings on natural philosophy and medicine, and The David Armstrong–David Lewis correspondence. 

Contributions to

Justice / Humanities (Preview Response)
Discipline(s): Humanities
Theology: Justice