AMERICAN CATHOLIC PHILOSOPHICAL QUARTERLY: Vol. 74, No. 3, Summer 2000

Article excerpt

Thomas Reid and Common Sense, RALPH MCINERNY

When Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange wrote a book on Le sens commun, he was not directly concerned with Thomas Reid, but he did indicate his knowledge of and respect for Scottish Common Sense Philosophy. However, he lamented the lack of a metaphysical underpinning in Reid's account of common sense. While there is some justification for this criticism, it does not diminish Reid's achievement--namely to lay out indisputable truths. However, Reid is not without an ontology when he accounts for common sense truths. While his lists often appear almost random, with the consequence that discussions of Reid often get bogged down in quibbles over this or that as common sense, Reid does recognize a kind of hierarchy in common sense and the primacy of the principle of contradicton. Nor is this to be dismissed as a mere logical point. The ontological import of the first logical principle is the basis of Reid's argument.

Reid, God and Epistemology, KEITH LEHRER and BRADLEY WARNER

Reid offers a naturalistic and common sense epistemology but adds reflections concerning God's role in supplying us with our faculties. The latter have led some, including Norton, Brookes, and Plantinga, to think that Reid has supplemented his naturalistic epistemology supernaturally with the assumption of God's existence. This paper argues, contrary to this interpretation, that Reid advanced a principle of the trustworthiness of our faculties which suffices for justification of our common sense beliefs without appeal to the existence of God. This principle, affirming that the faculties by which we distinguish truth from error are not fallacious, is a special first principle, which the authors call the first first principle because of its priority among first principles.

Thomas Reid's Metaprinciple, PHILIP DE BARY

This paper challenges the influential view, propounded over many years by Keith Lehrer, that there is a highly important "metaprinciple" to be found among Reid's principles of common sense. First, the author poses what he thinks is a new and serious objection to the idea of a Reidian metaprinciple, in the form of a dilemma--either it is superfluous, or it leads to a regress. Next, the author offers a diagnosis of how Lehrer arrives at his (in the author's view) mistaken reading of one of Reid's principles as a metaprinciple. Finally, the paper proposes an alternative reading of the principle (supported by a general consideration of the structure of Reid's Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man, and by close attention to the relevant text) according to which it is stripped of its special status and becomes a common-or-garden "first principle of contingent truths."

The Scotist Thomas Reid, ALEXANDER BROADIE

In respect of Reid's teaching on the will and on the relation between will and intellect it is appropriate to classify Reid as a Scotist. Scotus gives an account of free will in terms of will's openness to opposites--in the very circumstance in which will wills A it can will B instead. And it can will B even if intellect proposes A, for will is free not to act as intellect proposes. These theses are developed in the paper, as are Scotus's related doctrines that will cannot function without intellect nor intellect without will. It is then demonstrated that Reid accepts all these theses, and that his detailed development of them articulates closely with Scotus's own presentations. The author suggests that the comparative lack of interest in Reid among Catholic philosophers derives from the fact that he is a Scotist, unlike most Catholic philosophers, and is not (as regards the general tenor of his philosophy) a Thomist.

Reid, Kant and the Doctrine of the Two Standpoints, ROGER GALLIE

Reid and Kant offer similar responses to the seeming incompatibility between free will and the necessity of nature. Kant's two standpoints doctrine is presented along with the following difficulty: if an event is causally determined it is true of it under all descriptions that it is causally determined. …