Some mental states are about themselves. Nothing is a cause of itself. So some mental states are not about their causes; they are about things distinct from their causes. If this argument is sound, it spells trouble for causal theories of mental content—the precise sort of trouble depending on the precise sort of causal theory. This paper shows that the argument is sound (§§1-3), and then spells out the trouble (§4).
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 (...) a set of intuitive contingent truths he called the principles of common sense. This difference, as this chapter will show, enables Reid to construct an account of mind that resists the temptation to which so many philosophers in his day and ours succumb, i.e., the temptation, in his words, to materialize minds or spiritualize bodies. (shrink)
One Berkeleyan case for idealism, recently developed by Robert M. Adams, relies on a seeming disparity between our concepts of matter and mind. Thomas Reid’s critique of idealism directly challenges the alleged disparity. After highlighting the role of the disparity thesis in Adams’s updated Berkeleyan argument for idealism, this chapter offers an updated version of Reid’s challenge, and assesses its strength. What emerges from this historico-philosophical investigation is that a contemporary Reidian has much work to do to transpose her objections (...) to Berkeley into good objections to Adams’s argument. (shrink)
For Reid, the external senses have a “double province.” They give rise to both sensation and perception. This essay is about the relation of sensation and perception, a relation Reid’s sign theory of sensations describes. Drawing on Reid’s distinctions between general and particular principles of our constitution, relative and absolute conceptions, and original and acquired perception, the paper systematizes Reid’s sporadic comments on the sign theory. The aim is to offer an interpretation which reveals the overall structure, rationale and coherence (...) of Reid’s sign theory. (shrink)
There is a problem about the compatibility of Reid's commitment to both a sign theory of sensations and also direct realism. I show that Reid is committed to three different senses of the claim that mind independent bodies and their qualities are among the immediate objects of perception, and I then argue that Reid's sign theory conflicts with one of these. I conclude by advocating one proposal for reconciling Reid's claims, deferring a thorough development and defence of the proposal to (...) another paper. (shrink)
1. Introduction. Like other direct realists, Thomas Reid offered an alternative to indirect realist and idealist accounts of perception. Reids alternative aimed to preserve the indirect realists commitment to realism about the objects of perception, and the idealists commitment to the immediacy of the minds relation to the objects of perception. Reid holds that what you perceive is mind independent or external; and your relation to such objects in perception is direct or immediate. In his own words, something which is (...) extended and solid, which may be measured and weighed, is the immediate object of my touch and sight. And this object I take to be matter, and not an idea (IP II xi, 154). (shrink)
According to Peter van Inwagen, C. S. Lewis failed in his attempt to undermine naturalism with his Argument from Reason. According to van Inwagen, Lewis provides no justification for his central premise, that naturalism is inconsistent with holding beliefs for reasons. What is worse, van Inwagen argues that the main premise in Lewis's argument from reason is false. We argue that it is not false. The defender of Lewis's argument can make use of the problem of mental causal drainage, a (...) longstanding issue in philosophy of mind, to show how van Inwagen's objection fails. (shrink)
David Lewis advised essentialists to judge his counterpart theory a false friend. He also argued that counterpart theory needs natural properties. This essay argues that natural properties are all essentialists need to find a true friend in counterpart theory. Section one explains why Lewis takes counterpart theory to be anti-essentialist and why he thinks it needs natural properties. Section two establishes the connection between the natural properties counterpart theory needs and the essentialist consequences Lewis disavows. Section three answers two objections: (...) the first attempts to block the consequences of adding natural properties to counterpart theory; the second grants the consequences, but denies that they amount to essentialism. –Correspondence to: [email protected]. (shrink)
For Reid, sensations do not enter into the analysis of perception proper. Instead they “intervene” between the effects of bodily qualities on our sense organs and our perception of those qualities (Inq VI xxi, 174).1 The question addressed in this essay is: What sort of thing does Reid take this interloper to be?2 The answer defended is that sensations are reflexive mental acts, i.e., acts which take themselves as objects.
Hume invites would-be dissenters to produce an idea, whose content appears not to be ultimately derived or copies from impressions. Reid takes up this gauntlet in his experimentum crucis. This chapter analyzes Reid's central challenge to Hume's principles, and provides an interpretation of Reid's reasoning that withstands recent criticisms.
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 (...) more complicated and more interesting than many of the contemporary philosophers who, citing Reid as inspiration, also hold that belief in God enjoys immediate justification. In Reid’s hands the approach to belief in God does not compete with inferential justification, does not rely on a special faculty, and foregrounds the developmental character of his epistemology. (shrink)
This volume offers a fresh view of the work of Thomas Reid, a leading figure in the history of eighteenth-century philosophy. A team of leading experts in the field explore the significance of Reid's thought in his time and ours, focusing in particular on three broad themes: mind, knowledge, and value. Together, they argue that Reid's philosophy is about developing agents in a rich world of objects and values, agents with intellectual and active powers whose regularity is productive. Though such (...) agents are equipped at first with rudimentary abilities, those abilities are responsive. Our powers consist in a fundamental and on-going engagement with the world, a world that calls on us to be flexible, sensitive, astute, and ultimately, practical. Thomas Reid on Mind, Knowledge, and Value represents both the vitality of Reid's work, and the ways in which current philosophers are engaging with his ideas. (shrink)
This chapter shows that in certain circumstances desires are a guide to possibility, and that, in these circumstances, human beings desire at least one state of affairs for which the existence of God is a necessary condition. It follows that God’s existence is possible; or, more modestly, anyone with the relevant desires has a reason to believe God’s existence is possible. Thus, a new argument in the tradition of C.S. Lewis’s argument from nostalgia is offered, an argument from certain desires (...) to the possibility premise of the modal ontological argument. It is argued, further, that support for the possibility premise does not succumb to the problem of equipollence, a problem that undermines many attempts to support the possibility premise. (shrink)
This article examines philosophical naturalism—the chief rival to theism in the modern world— with contemporary apologetic concerns in view. The second section introduces the central claims of naturalism and the main arguments offered on its behalf. The third section surveys the challenges naturalism faces in accounting for two key features of human nature. The final section outlines the significance of these challenges in the context of an inference to the best explanation for theism.
For Reid perception, broadly speaking, was a complex of two very different mental states. Calling such views dual component theory, A. D. Smith questions whether any such theory, and whether Reid's version in particular, is a viable theory of perception. The aim of this paper is to defend Reidian Dual Component Theory from Smith's critique. Answering Smith's critique reveals the depth and resilience of Reid's approach to perception, highlighting specifically the continued interest of his thought about the relationship between sensation (...) and perception, the nature of illusion, the immediacy of perception, and the content of perceptual belief. (shrink)