Monica Solomon received her Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science from the Reilly Center and the Department of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Her main research is at the intersection between the philosophy of science, metaphysics, and the philosophy of mathematical practice. She is interested in topics in the history of the philosophy of space, time, and gravity research, early modern philosophy, and the ethical and political dimensions of the scientific practice.
Monica’s dissertation, entitled “On the Interactions between Mathematics and Metaphysics in Isaac Newton’s Writings,” benefited from the support of the 2016-7 ACLS/Mellon Dissertation Fellowship. It focuses on the conceptualization of mathematical force in Newton’s most well-known work (the Principia) and it traces the origins of this concept in the earlier drafts and dynamical writings. Her project shows how the emergence of a single concept – that of mathematical force – required carving out the conceptual framework of laws, hypotheses, space and time in a novel, unprecedented way. The dissertation aims to integrate the history and philosophy of natural philosophy and brings them to bear on contemporary conversations in the philosophy of science related to methodology, scientific concepts, models, and idealizations.
At the USC Society of Fellows in the Humanities, Monica prepares for publication several papers drawn from her dissertation project and will begin a new project focused on the explanatory power of auxiliary principles in dynamics during the late seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries. More broadly, this new project analyzes the change in the methodology of natural philosophy that transformed it into the more recognizable ‘mathematical physics.’ The contribution of other humanities is crucial for capturing what central philosophical questions concerning our natural inquiry lost or gained in this shift.
As the former Coordinator for Undergraduate Research at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, Monica worked with a team of twelve outstanding undergraduate researchers. Her mentoring role was to guide and facilitate their research, to motivate them to approach complex questions in their fields, and to reflect philosophically on their future work and plans. She is also building experience in connecting historically rich philosophy of science with the broader domains of liberal studies and public outreach: she has been research assistant for the Director of the Graduate Program of History and Philosophy of Science, has been research assistant for the editor-in-chief of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science journal, and has held TA duties and responsibilities for several classes, both in the Philosophy Department and the Science, Technology, and Values minor program. Also, Monica developed her interest in the pedagogical use of history and philosophy of science for science teaching by her role as a facilitator for three consecutive years at the Inquiry Based Teaching summer workshops for science teachers in the Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties at the ETHOS Science Center.