Project Description

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Benjamin Hill


  • History of Early Modern Philosophy

  • Epistemology



Associate Professor;
Department of Philosophy, Western University

Professor Hill began his intellectual career in mathematics before moving to history and philosophy. He has long been interested in Lockean empiricism and the connection between sensory-based beliefs and the possibility of scientific knowledge. He believes that the historical study of thinkers and their ideas can have a direct effect on understanding – and critiquing – our current conceptions, because detailed and historically informed investigations of the past reveal possibilities that are currently blocked or obscured by contemporary commitments. He believes that this is all the more important when it comes to topics such as our epistemic values and our commitments to the possibility of scientific knowledge.


The Philosophy of Francisco Suárez, edited with Henrik Lagerlund, Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2012.


“Locke on Propositions and Assertion,” Modern Schoolman, 85 (2008): 187-205.

“Why We Can No Longer Rationally Believe that our Intellective Soul is a Substantial Form: On the Degringolade of the Simplicity Argument,” The Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Intelligence and Philosophy of Mind, 80 (2006): pp. 127-139.

“Reconciling Locke’s Definition of Knowledge with Knowing Reality,” Southern Journal of Philosophy, 44 (2006): pp. 91-105.

“‘Resemblance’ and Locke’s Primary-Secondary Quality Distinction,” Locke Studies 4 (2004): pp. 98-122.

“Locke’s Modes: Ideas as Properties,” Southwest Philosophy Review 20 (2004): pp. 173-182.

“Newton’s De gravitatione et aequipondio flidorum and Lockean Four-Dimensionalism,” British Journal for the History of Philosophy 11 (2003): pp. 309-321.

“Locke’s Refutation of Innatism – Essay, I.ii,” Southwest Philosophy Review 18 (2002): pp. 123-134.

“What Hylas should have said to Philonous: A Problem with Berkeley’s Account of Perceptual Error,” Southwest Philosophy Review 16 (2000): pp. 23-31.

Book Chapters:

Introduction to The Philosophy of Francisco Suárez, ed. Benjamin Hill and Henrik Lagerlund (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).

“The Reverse Achilles in Locke,” in The Achilles of Rationalist Psychology, eds. Lennon and Stainton, (Springer, 2008), 133-138.

Project Title: Anti-individualist Themes in Locke’s Doctrine of Ideas

Role: PI

Brief Description:

This is a monograph detailing anti-individualist philosophical commitments Locke developed or appealed to in constructing his realist empirical epistemology. It is argued that these commitments can be found throughout Locke’s doctrine of ideas, ranging from his account of the simple ideas of sense to the complex ideas of modes, relations, and substances. It is further argued that these commitments are central to Locke’s epistemological vision.

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