James Gregory (1753-1821) and Scottish scientific metaphysics, 1750-1800
This thesis is a study of some aspects of James Gregory's philosophical and medical thought. Gregory's work is discussed in relation to its local intellectual context of later 18th-century Scottish scientific metaphysics. I show the importance of his writings for understanding how the relationships between epistemology, natural knowledge and religious belief were perceived by some members of the Scottish scientific metaphysics community. This is done empirically by considering Gregory's responses to several other writers. In particular, I show that Gregory's views on causality were put forward to counteract what he perceived as the dangerous influence of Hume's philosophy upon Scottish scientific metaphysicians. This subject is also approached thematically, through what is called the epistemological interiorisation of nature, or the search for the conditions of men's judgements about causes and effects. I identify two principgI strategies for epistemological interiorisation. These are termed 'voluntarist' and 'necessitarian'. I show that while Gregory was a severe critic of what he perceived as the necessitarianism of Hume's philosophy and some other -- forms of scientific metaphysics, Gregory also rejected forms of voluntarism found in the writings of John Stewart, Robert Whytt and Thomas Reid. Finally, Gregory's concern with the nature of cause and effect in physics is related to John Robison's reformation of mechanical philosophy.