I have been having an ongoing debate (my end: http://itisonlyatheory.blogspot.com/2010/09/speculative-vs-experimental-philosophy.html & http://www.newappsblog.com/2010/10/on-the-history-of-experimental-philosophy.html & most recently http://www.newappsblog.com/2010/11/on-newtonianism-in-18th-century-moral-philosophy.html) with the folks at the Otago Early Modern Experimental Philosophy group (see their initial response, https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/emxphi/2010/10/reply-to-schliesser/ and more recent one https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/emxphi/2010/11/anti-newtonianism-in-moral-philosophy/). The core of my criticism revolves around the fruitfulness and dangers of the Otago use of the speculative/experimental distinction in treating 18th century natural and moral philosophy. In particular, I claimed that they were incapable of doing justice to a tradition of theory-mediated measurement. In initial response, Peter Anstey claimed that, in fact, there were two experimental traditions one Baconian that got supplanted by a Newtonian one.
In Barcelona, I will present my counter taxanomy "Eighteenth Century Newtonianism and Four kinds of Empiricism" at the European Society for History of Science Conference. I offer a fourfold distinction to do justice to the fact that Newton's authority was challenged (by lots of folk) and to dramatically differing forms of methodological empiricisms.I distinguish between: 1. The sciences of Theory-mediated measument (in Newton these are based on abstraction). 2. Autonomous experimental sciences. 3. A method of inspecting ideas in two forms: 3A. One that combines a normative theory of cognition with a method of discovering clear ideas (this is Hume's Treatise, but very indebted to Locke, I think) 3B: One that deploys the copy principle (this is Hume's first Enquiry) 4. The method of natural history (especially Buffon, who is great and seems to have assimilated the part of Hume's Treatise everybody skips, I.2), which is an inductive science of relations (and law-like relations between them) that is anthropocentric, but not anthropomorophic; experiments and mathematics have limited subservient, instrumental value within natural history.
Incidentally, in researching the presentation I found Charles Wolfe's Three-fold distinction within 18th century empiricism useful (and also very fruitful). Maybe I'll have to comment on it soon.
2. A moral/practical empiricism (Locke and Hume), in which themes such as anti-innatism (…) are in fact not epistemological, that is, not primarily reducible to concerns about the nature of knowledge or the cognitive states of the knower, but are rather motivated by embedded concerns such as anti-authoritarianism…and the desire to articulate a notion of toleration.
3. A medically motivated, ‘embodied’ empiricism, as found in such diverse figures as William Harvey (…), Pierre Gassendi, Thomas Sydenham; in a different sense, La Mettrie, especially…within the tradition or trend of ‘medical Epicureanism’, as in Gassendi-Lamy-La Mettrie; and the Montpellier vitalists.
Charles Wolfe (2010) “Empiricist Heresies in Early Modern Medical Thought,” C.T. Wolfe and O. Gal (eds.), The Body as Object and Instrument of Knowledge: Embodied Empiricism in Early Modern Science, Springer, 335