The philosophy of Robert Boyle (1627-1691) is of great importance in the early modern period. Boyle was at the centre of the scientific community of 17th-century England, and an accurate view of the Enlightenment scientific revolution is impossible without recognition of the contributions that he made. Work on Boyle's philosophy is also shedding light on contemporary issues in the philosophy of science - it can help us understand the nature of scientific explanation and the role that the mechanical model of explanation plays in present-day science. Boyle on Fire examines Boyle's work concerning a method of experiment common in the seventeenth century called Fire Analysis. In the Sceptical Chymist (1661), Boyle attacked elemental theories of chemical explanation primarily by raising objections against Aristotellan and Paracelsian interpretations of Fire Analysis. The book reconstructs Boyle's 'corpuscular' account of Fire Analysis and then compares it to these objections. This process reveals those characteristics of mechanical explanations that make them superior to elemental theories of chemical explanation, characteristics that have become an enduring feature of the scientific enterprise.
William R. Eaton teaches philosophy at Georgia Southern University.