Reid's Foundation for the Primary/Secondary Quality Distinction

Philosophical Quarterly 52 (209):476-494 (2002)
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Abstract

Reid offers an under‐appreciated account of the primary/secondary quality distinction. He gives sound reasons for rejecting the views of Locke, Boyle, Galileo and others, and presents a better alternative, according to which the distinction is epistemic rather than metaphysical. Primary qualities, for Reid, are qualities whose intrinsic natures can be known through sensation. Secondary qualities, on the other hand, are unknown causes of sensations. Some may object that Reid's view is internally inconsistent, or unacceptably relativistic. However, a deeper understanding shows that it is consistent, and relative only to normal humans. To acquire this deeper understanding, one must also explore the nature of dispositions, Reid's rejection of the theory of ideas, his distinction between sensation and perception, and his distinction between natural and acquired perceptions.

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Jennifer McKitrick
University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Citations of this work

Leibniz on the Metaphysics of Color.Stephen Puryear - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (2):319-346.
Is Thomas Reid a Direct Realist about Perception?Hagit Benbaji - 2009 - European Journal of Philosophy 17 (1):1-29.

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References found in this work

Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind.Paul M. Churchland (ed.) - 1979 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
How to speak of the colors.Mark Johnston - 1992 - Philosophical Studies 68 (3):221-263.
An Inquiry Into the Human Mind, on the Principles of Common Sense.Thomas Reid - 1997 - Cambridge University Press. Edited by Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.Edward N. Zalta (ed.) - 2014 - Stanford, CA: The Metaphysics Research Lab.
Finkish dispositions.David Kellogg Lewis - 1997 - Philosophical Quarterly 47 (187):143-158.

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