I have been having an ongoing debate (my end: http://itisonlyatheory.blogspot.com/2010/09/speculative-vs-experimental-philosophy.html & more recently http://www.newappsblog.com/2010/10/on-the-history-of-experimental-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/).
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. But in their most recent version, https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/emxphi/2010/11/anti-newtonianism-in-moral-philosophy/, Juan Gomez argues against my criticism that "when the “experimental” philosophy was introduced into moral areas (Turnbull, Hume, etc.) it was decidedly Baconian in character, and often quite hostile to Newton." Gomez quotes directly from Turnbull (1740) who explicitly invokes Newton an exemplar for his own project. In particular, Newton's example is explicitly treated as offering expanatory reduction to general laws. Touche! But things are not so simple....
1A: Our post Humean/Reid-ian eyes can easily be misled here. For, note that Turnbull completely ignores theory-mediated measurement. Turnbull's Newton is a Baconian Newton! (Baconians are fine with explanatory reductionism to general laws within a system. This is what Bacon and, say, Boyle share with Newton.) In fact, Turnbull's move fits in with the whole Aberdeen intellectual scene in which Newton gets *reinterpreted* along Baconian lines. Reid's whole program is designed to ignore Newton's (explanatory) ontology of forces. This is why I call it anti-Newtonian. [As a matter of rhetoric, often the best way to defeat an authority is to claim his/her mantle.] The reason for the Aberdeen reinterpretation is that Reid wants to open space for human agency that is outside Newtonian metaphysical framework. I'll be curious to hear if Turnbull is different.
IB: The existence of the Aberdeen re-interpretation makes Anstey's claim about the temporal displacement of Baconianism by Newtonianism hard to defend. Baconianism was not destroyed by 1700. In Aberdeen (and in the 19th century England, see Whewell) Newton got reinterpreted along Baconian lines. As my colleague, Steffen Ducheyne, has shown, this was very fruitful because it laid the groundwork for 19th century positivism and our own obsession with the status of laws.
2. It is not just a modern scholarly conceit that theory-mediated measurement mattered. Here is a quote from one of the leading Newtonians of the period: “we have daily testimonies and proofs of the advantages of joining mathematics and experiments together from those celebrated men, Polenus, Desaguliers, Bernoulli, Wolfius, Musschenbroek, and so many more, that it would be tedious to mention them. To the mathematico-physical writings of these we may add what has been left about these things by Galileus, Torricelli, Gulielmini, Mariotte, Huygens, and many others, who have wrote about the particular parts of mathematics, belonging to physics…But among those, who have illustrated physics by mathematical demonstrations and experiments, Sir Isaac Newton is to be reckon’d the chief, who has demonstrated, in his Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, the great use of mathematics in physics,” (’s Gravesande, Elements, preface to 2nd edition, XIV-XV) Note that the tradition that 's Gravesande creates here omits Bacon and Boyle. What I claim is that the Otago group cannot explain how the Aberdeen outlook and this distinct tradition can operate side by side.
Finally, Hume and Turnbull should not be treated as part of the same project. Hume was no fan of Aberdeen philosophy and even his methodological aspirations for moral philosophy are different from Turnbull's. But about that some other side.