There has been a recent flurry of work comparing and contrasting the respective methodologies of David Hume and his contemporary Thomas Reid. Both writers are explicit in their commitments to a Newtonian methodology. Yet they diverge radically on the issue of human liberty. In this paper I want to unpack the methodological commitments underlying the two different accounts of liberty. How is it that two avowed Newtonians end up diametrically opposed to one another with respect to such a fundamental aspect (...) of human mentality? (shrink)
In his last great philosophical essay, 'Of Power', Reid makes the plausible claim that 'our first exertions are instinctive' and made 'without any distinct conception of the event that is to follow'. According to Reid, these instinctive exertions allow us to form beliefs about correlations between exertions and consequential events. Such instinctive exertions also explain the origin of our conception of power. In this paper, I argue that we can use the notion of instinctive exertions to address several objections that (...) have been raised concerning Reid's rejection of the claim that sensations possess spatial content. (shrink)
Maria Alvarez has argued that Thomas Reid’s account of action gives rise to a sceptical worry concerning one’s awareness of one’s own actions. Against this, I argue that Alvarez overstates the sceptical consequences of Reid’s admission that there is room for doubt about the actual causes of bodily movements; rather than generating a serious epistemological problem for his theory, it can be given a more plausible reading that serves to defuse the sceptical worry.