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Thomas Reid (1710-1796) was a Scottish philosopher and key figure in the Scottish Common Sense School. He taught at Kings College Aberdeen before succeeding Adam Smith as Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow in 1764.  Reid is primarily known for the epistemological theory he develops in response to the perceived failings of the 'way of ideas', the position associated with the likes of Descartes, Locke, Berkeley and Hume that claims that the immediate objects of perception are private mental items. Reid takes Hume as demonstrating that such a perceptual theory leads to a complete scepticism. As an alternative to this, Reid offers a direct realist account of perception and argues that all first principles of common sense stand on an equal footing – there is no reason to favour perception or reason over testimony or the belief in an external world, for example.  One other aspect of Reid's Common Sense theory that continues to exert significant influence is his contra-casual account of human agency.

Key works Reid's three major works represent two periods in his intellectual life: his first important work, An Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense (Reid 1997) was written during his time at Aberdeen; his Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man (Reid 1785) and Essays on the Active Powers of Man (Reid 1788) reflect his work at Glasgow. All three works were included in Sir William Hamilton’s The Works of Thomas Reid (Reid 1846), though this has been superseded by the Edinburgh Edition of Thomas Reid, a projected 10 volume series published by Edinburgh University Press and Pennsylvania State University Press. The Edinburgh edition of the Inquiry, Brookes 1997, is edited by Derek R. Brookes, the Intellectual Powers, Reid 1785, by Derek R. Brookes and Knud Haakonssen, and the Active Powers, Reid 1788, by Knud Haakonssen and James A. Harris.
Introductions Lehrer 1989 is the only introductory text on Reid available at the present time, with an emphasis on Reid's epistemology. Wolterstorff 2001 provides an alternative, highly accessible discussion of his epistemological concerns. The papers in Cuneo & van Woudenberg 2004 cover a wider range of core themes from Reid’s writings, including his moral and aesthetic theories. Yaffe & Nichols 2009 is the best online overview.
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  1. In All Fairness to an Affirmative Thomas in an Age of Misguided Dishops and Doubting Davids: Some Comments on Thomas Reid's Forthright Quest for a Metaphysical Treasure Ready at Hand.Harvey Williams - unknown - Proceedings of the Heraclitean Society 17.
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  2. " Georgica animi": a Compendium of Thomas Reid's Lectures on the Culture of the Mind.Charles Stewart-Robertson - forthcoming - Rivista di Storia Della Filosofia.
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  3. Réalisme, sens commun et langage ordinaire.Fabrice Pataut - 211 - In Sandra Laugiet & Christophe Al-Saleh (eds.), John L. Austin et la philosophie du langage ordinaire. Georg Holms Verlag.
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  4. Consciousness, Time, and Scepticism in Hume's Thought.Lorne Falkenstein - 2024 - New York: Routledge.
    David Hume’s philosophical work presents the reader with a perplexing mix of constructive accounts of empirically guided belief and destructive sceptical arguments against all belief. This book reconciles this conflict by showing that Hume intended his scepticism to be remedial. It immunizes us against the influence of “unphilosophical” causes of belief, determining us to proportion our beliefs to the evidence. In making this case, this book develops Humean positions on topics Hume did not discuss in detail but that are of (...)
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  5. Reid on Powers and Abilities.M. Folescu - 2024 - In Sebastian Bender & Dominik Perler (eds.), Powers and Abilities in Early Modern Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 326-342.
    Early in his Essays on Intellectual Powers, Reid draws a distinction between mental power, mental operation, and mental capacity (EIP 21). To the untrained eye, these terms could probably be used interchangeably, and Reid believes this is correct, up to a point. He argues that, if we are interested in understanding exactly how the human mind works, we must use these terms with more precise meanings. This is part of his more general strategy of trying to always use the words (...)
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  6. Thomas Reid and the Defence of Duty.James Foster - 2024 - Edinburgh University Press.
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  7. Thomas Reid, Common Sense, and Pragmatism.Peter Baumann - 2023 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 31 (1):54-67.
    Thomas Reid’s conception of common sense is important and interesting for many reasons – also because of the questions and issues it raises. I am going to focus on what one could call ‘Reid’s dilem...
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  8. The Active Powers of the Human Mind.Ruth Boeker - 2023 - In Aaron Garrett & James A. Harris (eds.), Scottish Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century, Volume II: Method, Metaphysics, Mind, Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 255–292.
    This essay traces the development of the philosophical debates concerning active powers and human agency in eighteenth-century Scotland. I examine how and why Scottish philosophers such as Francis Hutcheson, George Turnbull, David Hume, and Henry Home, Lord Kames, depart from John Locke’s and other traditional conceptions of the will and how Thomas Reid and Dugald Stewart reinstate Locke’s distinction between volition and desire. Moreover, I examine what role desires, passions, and motives play in the writings of these and other Scottish (...)
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  9. Edward Said and Philosophy.Zeyad El Nabolsy - 2023 - Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry 11.
    This article brings to the forefront Timothy Brennan’s emphasis on Edward Said’s engagement with philosophy. An attempt is made to reconstruct some of Brennan’s claims about Said’s views on the relationship between mental representations and the external world. It is shown that Said rejected naïve or direct realism in favor of representationalism. It is also argued that, despite being seen as a post-modern thinker, Said subscribed to a version of the correspondence theory of truth. Said embraced some form of standpoint (...)
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  10. The Intellectual Powers of the Human Mind.Lorne Falkenstein - 2023 - In Aaron Garrett & James A. Harris (eds.), Scottish Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century II: Method, Metaphysics, Mind, Language. Oxford University Press. pp. 225-54.
    This chapter examines what Hume and Reid had to say about what Reid called our intellectual powers: sensation, conception, perception, memory, abstraction, judgement, and reasoning. In the process it examines their opposed views on the nature of mind, on the representation of space and the spatiality of mental content, on temporal experience and the metaphysics of time, on the conception of non-existent objects, and on conceivability and possibility. The chapter critically examines what each had to say in his own defence (...)
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  11. Radical Skepticism and Epistemic Intuition by Michael Bergmann. [REVIEW]Charles Goldhaber - 2023 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
    Michael Bergmann's Radical Skepticism and Epistemic Intuition develops a response to radical skepticism inspired by commonsense philosophers, such as Reid and Moore. Bergmann argues against radical skepticism on the grounds of its conflicting with strongly-held "epistemic intuitions" about the "epistemic value or goodness” of our particular perceptual, recollective, introspective and a priori beliefs. I press concerns about whether Bergmann's "intuitionist particularist" response can diagnose the source of skepticism, and argue that his methodology turns out to itself be strikingly skeptical.
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  12. Language.Joseph Shieber - 2023 - In Aaron Garrett & James A. Harris (eds.), Scottish Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century, Volume 2: Method, Metaphysics, Mind, Language. Oxford University Press. pp. 327-364.
  13. Will do? Causes and volitions. [REVIEW]Aaron Wells - 2023 - Metascience 33 (1):91-93.
    Review of W. J. Mander, The Volitional Theory of Causation: From Berkeley to the Twentieth Century. Oxford University Press, 2023.
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  14. Thomas Reid’s Conception of Practical Ethics.Olga V. Artemyeva - 2022 - Russian Journal of Philosophical Sciences 64 (7):68-84.
    The article analyzes the concept of practical ethics in the moral philosophy of Thomas Reid. The significance of this study is determined by the fact that Reid, for the first time in the history of ethics, offers an internally differentiated conception of moral philosophy, which includes two parts: the theory of morality and practical ethics. The theory of morality studies the conditions for the possibility of morality. Practical ethics is normative, deals directly with the content of morality. Both parts of (...)
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  15. Book Review: "Ethics, Society and Politics: Themes from the Philosophy of Peter Winch", eds. Michael Campbell and Lynette Reid. [REVIEW]Ondřej Beran - 2022 - Nordic Wittgenstein Review 10:163-166.
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  16. Primary and Secondary Qualities in Early Modern Philosophy.Martha Bolton - 2022 - The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  17. Book Review: The Indecent Theologies of Marcella Althaus-Reid: Voices From Asia and Latin America. [REVIEW]Megan Clay - 2022 - Feminist Theology 30 (3):367-368.
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  18. The Concept of Active Power in the Philosophy of Thomas Reid.Zehra Eroğlu - 2022 - Entelekya Logico-Metaphysical Review 6 (1):21-35.
    The article focuses on the concept of active power as an ability that activates the agent, who is the implementer of common sense principles in Thomas Reid's philosophy. Reid argues that the use of active power in the process of realizing the principles of common sense in action is very important for the morality of the agent. While the correct use of active power ensures the emergence of honorable and moral actions, the wrong use of this power causes the emergence (...)
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  19. Terence Cuneo, Thomas Reid on the Ethical Life.James J. S. Foster - 2022 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 20 (1):77-80.
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  20. Reid in the Nineteenth Century.Alexander Campbell Fraser - 2022 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 20 (3):257-268.
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  21. Reid’s Philosophy of Relative and Distinct Conceptions: Qualities, Aesthetics and Ethics.Adam Weiler Gur Arye - 2022 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 20 (3):237-255.
    Reid's discernment between a ‘relative’ and a ‘distinct’ conception plays a significant role in his theory of secondary and primary qualities and in his postulations on ‘instinctive’ and ‘rational’ aesthetic perceptions. However, relative conceptions and, hence, the relative/distinct conception discernment, are absent from one model of aesthetic perception which Reid endorses, as well as from his theory of ‘moral approbation’. This paper aims (1) to explore the importance of Reid's relative/distinct discernment for the conception of qualities and aesthetic features and (...)
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  22. Thomas Reid on Induction and Natural Kinds.Stephen Harrop - 2022 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 20 (1):1-18.
    I examine the views of Thomas Reid with respect to a certain version of the problem of induction: Why are inductions using natural kinds successful, and what justifies them? I argue that while both Reid holds a kind of conventionalist view about natural kinds, this conventionalism has a realistic component which allows him to answer both questions.
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  23. Book Review: Queer and Indecent: An Introduction to Marcella Althaus Reid. [REVIEW]Lisa Isherwood - 2022 - Feminist Theology 30 (3):365-365.
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  24. A Reiding of Berkeley's Theory of Vision.Hannes Ole Matthiessen - 2022 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 20 (1):19-40.
    George Berkeley argues that vision is a language of God, that the immediate objects of vision are arbitrary signs for tactile objects and that there is no necessary connection between what we see and what we touch. Thomas Reid, on the other hand, aims to establish a geometrical connection between visible and tactile figures. Consequently, although Reid and Berkeley's theories of vision share important elements, Reid explicitly rejects Berkeley's idea that visible figures are merely arbitrary signs for tangible bodies. But (...)
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  25. Thomas Reid, the Internalist.Robert Weston Siscoe - 2022 - Journal of Modern Philosophy 4 (1):10.
    Philosophical orthodoxy holds that Thomas Reid is an externalist concerning epistemic justification, characterizing Reid as holding the key to an externalist response to internalism. These externalist accounts of Reid, however, have neglected his work on prejudice, a heretofore unexamined aspect of his epistemology. Reid’s work on prejudice reveals that he is far from an externalist. Despite the views Reid may have inspired, he exemplifies internalism in opting for an accessibility account of justification. For Reid, there are two normative statuses that (...)
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  26. The Indecent Theologies of Marcella Althaus-Reid: Voices From Asia and Latin America.[author unknown] - 2021
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  27. Queer and Indecent: An Introduction to Marcella Althaus Reid.[author unknown] - 2021
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  28. Thomas Reid on Promises and Social Operations of the Human Mind.Ruth Boeker - 2021 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 103 (2):350-371.
    My paper offers a new interpretation of Reid’s account of social operations of the mind. I argue that it is important to acknowledge the counterpart structure of social operations. By this I mean that for Reid every social operation is paired with a counterpart operation. On the view that I ascribe to Reid, at least two intelligent beings take part in a social operation and the social operation does not come into existence until both the social operation and its counterpart (...)
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  29. Alvin Plantinga’s Reidian Particularism: An Overview of an Epistemological Project.Mark J. Boone - 2021 - Criswell Theological Review 19 (1).
    Plantinga’s God and Other Minds, Reformed Epistemology articles, and Warrant Trilogy are all part of the same epistemological project. Although the project develops in phases focusing progressively on anti-theism, evidentialism, and internalism, the epistemology is consistently a Reidian particularism. It follows Roderick Chisholm’s famous particularist strategy for finding an epistemic criterion, uses principles of common sense from Thomas Reid as clear cases of beliefs satisfying that criterion, and applies that criterion to belief in God in order to show that this (...)
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  30. Revisiting Reid on Religion.Todd Buras - 2021 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 19 (3):261-274.
    This paper answers two interpretive questions surrounding belief in God in Thomas Reid’s philosophy, the status question and the detachability question. The former has to do with the type of justification Reid assigns to belief in God – immediate or mediate. The later question is whether anything philosophically significant depends on his belief in God. I argue that, for Reid, belief in God is immediately justified and integral to some parts of his system. Reid’s response to skepticism about God is (...)
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  31. La libertad moral en Thomas Reid la cuestión Del método.María Elton - 2021 - Ideas Y Valores 70 (176):117-135.
    RESUMEN Precisamente en momentos en que el determinismo humeano de la voluntad estaba comenzando a tener fuerza de tradición, surge Thomas Reid con una filosofía de la voluntad libre que tiene los rasgos principales de la tradición clásica anterior a Hume, medieval y tempranamente moderna. Su método inductivo, sin embargo, está tomado de Newton y del sentido común. Desde esta metodología ilustrada, Reid afirma que la voluntad es una facultad metafísica. Ha tenido influencia en la agent-cause theory, que se ha (...)
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  32. What it is like to see and the science of perception according to Thomas Reid.Claire Etchegaray - 2021 - Astérion 25.
    Concilier l’explication scientifique de la vision avec la description phénoménologique est l’une des tâches que se donne la philosophie du sens commun. Dans cet article, nous étudions la façon dont la description de ce que cela fait de percevoir autorise Reid à induire des lois rendant raison de la vision en tant qu’elle porte sur des choses réelles. Bien que Reid soutienne que l’esprit perçoit des choses existant indépendamment de nous, sa théorie a pu être la cible d’objections faisant craindre (...)
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  33. Perception as a Multi-Stage Process: A Reidian Account.Marina Folescu - 2021 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 19 (1):57-74.
    The starting point of this paper is Thomas Reid's anti-skepticism: our knowledge of the external world is justified. The justificatory process, in his view, starts with and relies upon one of the main faculties of the human mind: perception. Reid's theory of perception has been thoroughly studied, but there are some missing links in the explanatory chain offered by the secondary literature. In particular, I will argue that we do not have a complete picture of the mechanism of perception of (...)
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  34. George Berkeley's Skepticism in Thomas Reid's Reading.Vinícius França Freitas - 2021 - Philosophica: International Journal for the History of Philosophy 29 (57):5-19.
    The paper advances two hypotheses concerning Thomas Reid’s reading of George Berkeley’s immaterialist system. First, it is argued that, on Reid’s view, Berkeley is skeptic about the existence of the objects of the material world, not in virtue of a doubt about the senses but for his adoption of the principle that ideas are the immediate objects of the operations of mind. On Reid’s view, that principle is a skeptical principle by its own nature. Secondly, it is argued that Berkeley (...)
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  35. Femmes et littérature. Une histoire culturelle (2020), sous la direction de Martine Reid. Tome I : « Moyen Âge- xviii e siècle », par Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet, Éliane Viennot, Joan DeJean, Edwige Keller-Rahbé et Christie McDonald ; Tome II : « xix e - xxi e siècle, francophonies », par Martine Reid, Florence de Chalonge, Delphine Naudier, Christelle Reggiani et Alison Rice. Paris : Gallimard, Folio/Essais. [REVIEW]Nicole G. Albert - 2021 - Diogène n° 267-268 (3):324-331.
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  36. Thomas Reid and the Ethical Life by Terence Cuneo.Gordon Graham - 2021 - Review of Metaphysics 74 (4):621-622.
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  37. Thomas Reid épistémologue des sciences sociales.Laurent Jaffro & Vinícius França Freitas - 2021 - In Laurie Bréban, Séverine Denieul & Elise Sultan-Villet (eds.), La science des moeurs au siècle des Lumières: conception et expérimentations. Paris: Classiques Garnier.
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  38. Diderot, Reid e l’esperienza percettiva. Compensazioni sinestetiche, linguistiche ed estetiche.Maurizio Maione - 2021 - Itinera 22.
    Sensible qualities, not presumed abstract or pure aesthetic properties, are the main source for the Diderot’s and Reid’s aesthetic theories. Both authors work on the perceptual activity in normal situations and in blind people’s cognitive experience. This essay is aimed at emphasizing both the connections between perceptual activity and aesthetic experience and the role of aesthetic devices in the cognitive life. In Diderot sensible qualities are connected to emotions; in Reid they are the natural signs of emotions and mental properties. (...)
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  39. Thomas Reid and the University.Thomas Reid & Paul Wood - 2021 - Edinburgh University Press.
    Reid's ideas on education are a direct development of his theory of the mind, and the writings in this volume form an integral part of his philosophy that has, until now, been ignored.
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  40. Common Sense in Reid’s Response to Scepticism.Patrick Rysiew - 2021 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 146 (1):33-47.
    Le sens commun est au cœur des conceptions épistémologiques de Thomas Reid. Pourtant, tout comme sa théorie positive, la réponse de Reid au scepticisme – ce qu’elle est censée établir et la manière dont elle le fait – est sujette à débat. Certes, dans la mesure où elle respecte et défend notre conception ordinaire de nous-mêmes comme détenteurs de connaissances provenant d’une variété de sources, toute réponse au scepticisme relève bien du « bon sens », compris au sens large. Reste (...)
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  41. Thomas Reid on the Role of Conception and Belief in Perception and Memory.Lucas Thorpe - 2021 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 38 (4):357-374.
    Thomas Reid argues that both perception and memory involve a conception of an object and usually cause a corresponding belief. According to defenders of the constitutive interpretation, such as Rebecca Copenhaver, the belief is constitutive of acts of perception and memory. I instead argue for a causal interpretation: although in normal circumstances perceiving and remembering cause a corresponding belief, the belief is not constitutive of perception or memory. Copenhaver's strongest argument for the constitutive interpretation is that perception essentially represents objects (...)
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  42. Common Sense and Comparative Linguistics.Lucas Thorpe - 2021 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 146 (1):71-88.
    I discuss the role of translatability in philosophical justification. I begin by discussing and defending Thomas Reid’s account of the role that facts about comparative linguistics can play in philosophical justification. Reid believes that common sense offers a reliable but defeasible form of justification. We cannot know by introspection, however, which of our judgments belong to common sense. Judgments of common sense are universal, and so he argues that the strongest evidence that a judgment is a part of common sense (...)
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  43. Heidegger's Moral Ontology by James Reid.Bruce Ballard - 2020 - Review of Metaphysics 73 (3):625-626.
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  44. Thomas Reid, “Da Memória”.Pedro Galvão - 2020 - Philosophica: International Journal for the History of Philosophy 28 (55-56):43-53.
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  45. Thomas Reid e l'anatomia della mente: i poteri dell'anima nella Scozia settecentesca.Sebastiano Gino - 2020 - Milano: Mimesis.
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  46. Common sense and science from Aristotle to Reid.Benjamin W. Redekop - 2020 - London, UK: Anthem Press.
    Common Sense and Science from Aristotle to Reid reveals that thinkers have pondered the nature of common sense and its relationship to science and scientific thinking for a very long time. It demonstrates how a diverse array of neglected early modern thinkers turn out to have been on the right track for understanding how the mind makes sense of the world and how basic features of the human mind and cognition are related to scientific theory and practice. Drawing on a (...)
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  47. Reid on intentionality and causation.James Van Cleve - 2020 - In Dominik Perler & Sebastian Bender (eds.), Causation and Cognition in Early Modern Philosophy. London: Routledge.
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  48. Thomas Reid's Common Sense Philosophy of Mind.Todd Buras - 2019 - In Rebecca Copenhaver (ed.), Philosophy of Mind in the Early Modern and Modern Ages: The History of the Philosophy of Mind, Volume 4. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 298-317.
    Thomas Reid’s philosophy is a philosophy of mind—a Pneumatology in the idiom of 18th century Scotland. His overarching philosophical project is to construct an account of the nature and operations of the human mind, focusing on the two-way correspondence, in perception and action, between the thinking principle within and the material world without. Like his contemporaries, Reid’s treatment of these topics aimed to incorporate the lessons of the scientific revolution. What sets Reid’s philosophy of mind apart is his commitment to (...)
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  49. Reid's Regress.Terence Cuneo & Randall Harp - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (277):678-698.
    Thomas Reid's Essays on the Active Powers presents what is probably the most thoroughly developed version of agent-causal libertarianism in the modern canon. While commentators today often acknowledge Reid's contribution, they typically focus on what appears to be a serious problem for the view: Reid appears to commit himself to a position according to which acting freely would require an agent to engage in an infinite number of exertions of active power. In this essay, we maintain that, properly understood, Reid's (...)
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  50. The Metaphysics of Free Will and Moral Freedom in Thomas Reid.María Elton - 2019 - Review of Metaphysics 73 (1):55-76.
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