Ideas of Thomas Reid, by Theme

[British, 1710 - 1796, Born at Aberdeen. Professor at the University of Glasgow.]

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1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 5. Linguistic Analysis
The existence of tensed verbs shows that not all truths are necessary truths
2. Reason / F. Fallacies / 7. Ad Hominem
An ad hominem argument is good, if it is shown that the man's principles are inconsistent
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 1. Nature of Existence
Accepting the existence of anything presupposes the notion of existence
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 2. Powers as Basic
Powers are quite distinct and simple, and so cannot be defined
Thinkers say that matter has intrinsic powers, but is also passive and acted upon
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 3. Powers as Derived
It is obvious that there could not be a power without a subject which possesses it
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 5. Universals as Concepts
Universals are not objects of sense and cannot be imagined - but can be conceived
8. Modes of Existence / E. Nominalism / 1. Nominalism / b. Nominalism about universals
Only individuals exist
8. Modes of Existence / E. Nominalism / 2. Resemblance Nominalism
No one thinks two sheets possess a single whiteness, but all agree they are both white
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 4. Essence as Definition
Objects have an essential constitution, producing its qualities, which we are too ignorant to define
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 1. Objects over Time
Continuity is needed for existence, otherwise we would say a thing existed after it ceased to exist
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 13. No Identity over Time
We treat slowly changing things as identical for the sake of economy in language
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 1. Concept of Identity
Identity is familiar to common sense, but very hard to define
Identity can only be affirmed of things which have a continued existence
Real identity admits of no degrees
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 4. Conceivable as Possible / b. Conceivable but impossible
Impossibilites are easily conceived in mathematics and geometry [Molnar]
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 4. The Cogito
If someone denies that he is thinking when he is conscious of it, we can only laugh
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 1. Perceptual Realism / b. Direct realism
The existence of ideas is no more obvious than the existence of external objects
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 4. Solipsism
We are only aware of other beings through our senses; without that, we are alone in the universe
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 2. Self-Evidence
Truths are self-evident to sensible persons who understand them clearly without prejudice
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 1. Perception
Sensation is not committed to any external object, but perception is
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / c. Primary qualities
Primary qualities are the object of mathematics
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / d. Secondary qualities
Secondary qualities conjure up, and are confused with, the sensations which produce them
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 5. Interpretation
It is unclear whether a toothache is in the mind or in the tooth, but the word has a single meaning
12. Knowledge Sources / E. Direct Knowledge / 1. Common Sense
Reid is seen as the main direct realist of the eighteenth century [Robinson,H]
Many truths seem obvious, and point to universal agreement - which is what we find
In obscure matters the few must lead the many, but the many usually lead in common sense
12. Knowledge Sources / E. Direct Knowledge / 4. Memory
Without memory we could have no concept of duration
We all trust our distinct memories (but not our distinct imaginings)
The theory of ideas, popular with philosophers, means past existence has to be proved
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 3. Evidentialism / a. Evidence
People dislike believing without evidence, and try to avoid it
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 5. Coherentism / b. Pro-coherentism
If non-rational evidence reaches us, it is reason which then makes use of it
13. Knowledge Criteria / C. External Justification / 7. Testimony
We treat testimony with a natural trade off of belief and caution [Fricker,M]
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 5. Unity of Mind
A person is a unity, and doesn't come in degrees
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 1. Consciousness / a. Consciousness
Consciousness is an indefinable and unique operation
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 1. Consciousness / e. Cause of consciousness
Consciousness is the power of mind to know itself, and minds are grounded in powers
16. Persons / A. Concept of a Person / 2. Persons as Responsible
Personal identity is the basis of all rights, obligations and responsibility
16. Persons / A. Concept of a Person / 3. Persons as Reasoners
I can hardly care about rational consequence if it wasn't me conceiving the antecedent
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 2. Mental Continuity / a. Memory is Self
The identity of a thief is only known by similarity, but memory gives certainty in our own case
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 2. Mental Continuity / c. Inadequacy of mental continuity
Memory reveals my past identity - but so does testimony of other witnesses
If consciousness is transferable 20 persons can be 1; forgetting implies 1 can be 20
Boy same as young man, young man same as old man, old man not boy, if forgotten!
If a stolen horse is identified by similitude, its identity is not therefore merely similitude
If consciousness is personal identity, it is continually changing
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 7. Self and Thinking
Thoughts change continually, but the self doesn't
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 2. Sources of Free Will
The first motion or effect cannot be produced necessarily, so the First Cause must be a free agent
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 3. Constraints on the will
A willed action needs reasonable understanding of what is to be done
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 4. For Free Will
Our own nature attributes free determinations to our own will
We are morally free, because we experience it, we are accountable, and we pursue projects
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 1. Thought
We must first conceive things before we can consider them
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 8. Human Thought
The structure of languages reveals a uniformity in basic human opinions
18. Thought / C. Content / 2. Ideas
Only philosophers treat ideas as objects
18. Thought / E. Abstraction / 1. Abstract Thought
First we notice and name attributes ('abstracting'); then we notice that subjects share them ('generalising')
18. Thought / E. Abstraction / 2. Abstracta by Selection
If you can't distinguish the features of a complex object, your notion of it would be a muddle
Only mature minds can distinguish the qualities of a body
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 9. Ambiguity
The ambiguity of words impedes the advancement of knowledge
19. Language / B. Reference / 1. Reference theories
Reference is by name, or a term-plus-circumstance, or ostensively, or by description
19. Language / B. Reference / 3. Direct Reference / c. Social reference
A word's meaning is the thing conceived, as fixed by linguistic experts
20. Action / B. Preliminaries of Action / 2. Willed Action / c. Agent causation
Reid said that agent causation is a unique type of causation [Stout,R]
20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 3. Acting on Reason / a. Practical reason
A motive is merely an idea, like advice, and not a force for action
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 3. Taste
There are axioms of taste - such as a general consensus about a beautiful face
22. Metaethics / C. The Good / 1. Goodness / g. Consequentialism
If an attempted poisoning results in benefits, we still judge the agent a poisoner
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 2. Golden Rule
We shouldn't do to others what would be a wrong to us in similar circumstances
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / b. Basis of virtue
To be virtuous, we must care about duty
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / e. Honour
Every worthy man has a principle of honour, and knows what is honourable
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 1. Causation
Similar effects come from similar causes, and causes are only what are sufficient for the effects
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 9. General Causation / a. Constant conjunction
Day and night are constantly conjoined, but they don't cause one another [Crane]
We all know that mere priority or constant conjunction do not have to imply causation
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 9. General Causation / d. Causal necessity
Regular events don't imply a cause, without an innate conviction of universal causation
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 1. Laws of Nature
The principle of the law of nature is that matter is passive, and is acted upon
Scientists don't know the cause of magnetism, and only discover its regulations
Laws are rules for effects, but these need a cause; rules of navigation don't navigate