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Thomas Reid on Mind, Knowledge, and Value$
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Rebecca Copenhaver and Todd Buras

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198733676

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198733676.001.0001

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The Defense of the First Principles of Common Sense in Reid’s Epistemology

The Defense of the First Principles of Common Sense in Reid’s Epistemology

A New Use for Track‐Record Arguments

Chapter:
(p.193) 10 The Defense of the First Principles of Common Sense in Reid’s Epistemology
Source:
Thomas Reid on Mind, Knowledge, and Value
Author(s):

Angélique Thébert

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198733676.003.0011

When Reid circumscribes the first principles of common sense, he encounters the epistemic circularity problem. The way he tackles it offers a means to reconsider the role of track-record arguments. Although fully aware of the epistemic circularity involved in this type of reasoning, Reid considers it as valid. To reconcile the fact that we immediately know the first principles with the fact that we may be compelled to justify them, this chapter takes these arguments as aiming neither at establishing the truth of the principles nor at convincing someone who doubts them, but as aiming at improving one’s knowledge of them. It implies that we distinguish the presupposed and practical knowledge of the principles, from the produced and reflective knowledge of them. Consequently, the epistemic circularity is neither complete nor vicious, and the justification, although useful to improve our knowledge, is not necessary to produce it in the first instance.

Keywords:   Thomas Reid, epistemology, common sense

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