Brian David Ellis

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Brian David Ellis
Born 1929
Residence Australia
Fields Philosophy, history and philosophy of science
Institutions La Trobe University
Alma mater
Notable awards Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (FAHA)

Brian Ellis (born 1929) is an Emeritus Professor in the philosophy department at La Trobe University in Victoria, Australia.[1] He is one of the major proponents of the New Essentialist school of philosophy of science (philosophy of nature).

In The Philosophy of Nature: A Guide to the New Essentialism, he groups a number of philosophers into his camp:

The new essentialism has evolved from these beginnings and can reasonably claim to be a comprehensive philosophy of nature. Philosophers around the world, including Sydney Shoemaker, Charles Martin, George Molnar, George Bealer, John Bigelow, Caroline Lierse, Evan Fales, Crawford Elder, Nicholas Maxwell, Nancy Cartwright and John Heil, have contributed to in various ways to its development. So the new essentialism is not just a personal view, but an emerging metaphysical perspective that is the culmination of many different attempts to arrive at a satisfactory post-Humean philosophy of nature.[2]

However, this list of claimed allies has been disputed by Stephen Mumford, at least with regard to "Shoemaker, Martin, Molnar, Heil and Cartwright."[3]

Selected publications[edit]

  • The Metaphysics of Scientific Realism (Montreal : McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010). ISBN 978-0-7735-3696-8
  • The Philosophy of Nature: A Guide to the New Essentialism 2002. ISBN 0-7735-2474-6
  • Scientific Essentialism 2001. ISBN 978-0-521-80094-5
  • Truth and Objectivity (Cambridge, Mass.: Basil Blackwell, 1991). ISBN 0-631-15397-7
  • "What Science Aims to Do," in Images of Science: Essays on Realism and Empiricism, with a Reply from Bas C. van Fraassen, ed. P. Churchland and C. Hooker, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), 48–74.
  • Rational belief systems (Totowa, N.J. : Rowman and Littlefield, 1979).
  • Basic concepts of measurement (Cambridge University Press, 1966).
  • "The Origin and Nature of Newton's Laws of Motion" in Beyond the Edge of Certainty. ed. R. G. Colodny. (Pittsburgh: University Pittsburgh Press, 1965).
  • "Has the universe a beginning in time?", Australasian Journal of Philosophy 33:1 (1955), 32–37.

Mentioned In[edit]

  • Marc Lange, Laws and Lawmakers: Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature (Oxford University Press, 2009).
  • Alexander Bird, Nature's Metaphysics: Laws and Properties (Oxford University Press, 2010).


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-03. 
  2. ^ p. 7
  3. ^ Stephen Mumford, "Kinds, Essences, Powers" Ratio (new series) XVIII (4 December 2005), 420-436.

External links[edit]