My research interests lie primarily in the history of metaphysics. Most of my publications are about the practical consequences of various metaphysical views. I have serious interests in the ways that the early modern rationalists—particularly Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) and Anne Finch Conway (1631-1679)—use their metaphysical systems to draw moral and political conclusions.
My work tends to fall into the following categories:
1. From Metaphysics to Psychology, Morality, and Politics. Metaphysics is not a purely theoretical enterprise: the views we adopt about the nature of things reverberate down to our views about what we are, how we ought to act, and how we ought to structure society. My research focuses on making clear how certain historical figures, particularly the rationalists, try to make sense of these connections. My article, “The Metaphysics of Natural Right in Spinoza,” was awarded the Sanders Prize in Early Modern Philosophy.
2. Early Modern Women Metaphysicians. It is now widely recognized that historians of philosophy have tended to neglect a number of historically important and philosophically interesting women authors. There has been a recent surge of interest in scholarship on the works of these philosophers. Several of my recent works are contributions to this literature: analyses of key arguments offered by Anne Finch Conway regarding the foundations of psychology and ethics.
3. The Metaphysics of Logic and Science. Historically, views about metaphysics have shaped views about logic and science. Where scholars try to understand the nature of logic or science without paying heed to the influence of metaphysical presuppositions, problems arise. In these articles, I highlight how—in different contexts and in different respects—ignoring the metaphysics leads to errors in our understanding of logic and science both.
Journal Articles and Book Chapters
John Grey. Forthcoming. The Metaphysics of Natural Right in Spinoza. Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy.
Catherine Kendig and John Grey. 2020. Can the epistemic value of natural kinds be explained independently of their metaphysics? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
John Grey. 2019. Species and the Good in Anne Conway’s Metaethics. In Comparative Metaethics: Neglected Perspectives on the Foundations of Morality, ed. Colin Marshall. New York: Routledge.
John Grey and Aaron Garrett. 2018. You are what you eat, but should you eat what you are?: Modern philosophical dietetics. In Oxford Handbook of Food Ethics, eds. Anne Barnhill, Tyler Doggett, and Andy Egan. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
John Grey. 2017. Conway’s Ontological Objection to Cartesian Dualism. Philosophers’ Imprint 17 no. 3.
John Grey. 2017. The Modal Equivalence Rules of the Port-Royal Logic. History and Philosophy of Logic 38 no. 3.
John Grey. 2017. Reply to Nadler: Spinoza and the Metaphysics of Suicide. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 no. 2.
John Grey. 2015. Reason and Knowledge in Spinoza. In Spinoza: Basic Concepts, ed. André Santos Campos. Exeter: Imprint Academic.
John Grey. 2015. Semantic and Pragmatic Stances toward Emerging Media. In Philosophy of Emerging Media, ed. Juliet Floyd and James Katz. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
John Grey. 2014. Spinoza on Composition, Causation, and the Mind’s Eternity. British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 22 no. 3.
John Grey. 2013. ‘Use Them At Our Pleasure’: Spinoza on Animal Ethics. History of Philosophy Quarterly, 30 no. 4.
Book Reviews & Encyclopedia Entries
John Grey. Forthcoming. Review of Martin Lin, Being and Reason: An Essay on Spinoza’s Metaphysics. Mind.
John Grey. 2019. Review of Michael LeBuffe, Spinoza on Reason. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 17 April.
John Grey. 2018. Review of Emily Thomas, Early Modern Women on Metaphysics. Journal of the History of Philosophy, 56 no. 4.
John Grey. 2016. Review of Roger Ariew, Descartes and the First Cartesians. Journal of the History of Philosophy, 54 no. 1.
John Grey. 2015. Spinoza: Moral Philosophy. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
John Grey. 2015. Review of Tad Schmaltz (ed.), Efficient Causation: A History. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 4 March.
Works in Progress
Anne Conway’s Monism Reconsidered
Spinoza’s Case against Introspective Self-Knowledge
Vitalism as an Evaluative Thesis: The case of Anne Conway
Grounding Argument from Analogy (with David Godden)