Louis Loeb

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History of 17th and 18th century European philosophy, especially Descartes and Hume.

Office Location(s): 2243 AH
Phone: 734.764.6285
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  • Fields of Study
    • History of Modern
  • About

    Professor Loeb's Stability and Justification in Hume's Treatise (Oxford, 2002) attributes to Hume a constructive epistemological theory, with Hume overestimating the extent to which the theory leads to skeptical or destructive conclusions. His recent research focuses on the role of sentiment and feeling in Treatise Books I and III, the implications of Hume's account of normativity for his sentimentalist ethical theory, epistemic commitment in the Treatise, Hume's posture toward inductive inference, and his relationship to Locke, Berkeley, and Reid. His earlier articles address the role of settled and unshakable belief in Hume, but also in ancient skepticism, Peirce, and Descartes -- with special attention to the problem of the Cartesian circle. In other work, Professor Loeb has explored dissimulation in the Meditations, Descartes' account of mind-body interaction, Hume's second thoughts about personal identity, and his treatment of the idea of necessary connection. Professor Loeb's first book, From Descartes to Hume: Continental Metaphysics and the Development of Modern Philosophy (Cornell, 1981), provides a sustained critique of the distinction between British empiricism and continental rationalism in early modern philosophy, with special attention to doctrines of causation and substance. His Reflection and the Stability of Belief: Essays on Descartes, Hume, and Reid (Oxford, 2010) includes an introduction that updates and consolidates his prior work on Hume’s approach to justification. Professor Loeb delivered the American Philosophical Association's Patrick Romanell Lecture on Philosophical Naturalism for 2006-2007. His current research seeks to develop a philosophical rather than predominantly literary or prudential explanation of main differences between the Treatise and first Enquiry.

  • Education
    • 1975, Ph.D. Princeton University
      1969, B.Phil., Oxford University (Brasenose College)
      1967, B.A., Wesleyan University (Connecticut)