Thomas Reid and the problem of induction: from common experience to common sense

By the middle of the eighteenth century the new science had challenged the intellectual primacy of common experience in favor of recondite, expert and even counter-intuitive knowledge increasingly mediated by specialized instruments. Meanwhile modern philosophy had also problematized the perceptions of common experience - in the case of David Hume this included our perception of causal relations in nature, a fundamental precondition of scientific endeavor.In this article I argue that, in responding to the 'problem of induction' as advanced by Hume, Reid reformulated Aristotelian foundationalism in distinctly modern terms. An educator and mathematician self-consciously working within the framework of the new science, Reid articulated a philosophical foundation for natural knowledge anchored in the human constitution and in processes of adjudication in an emerging modern public sphere of enlightened discourse. Reid thereby transformed one of the bases of Aristotelian science - common experience - into a philosophically and socially justified notion of 'common sense'. Reid's intellectual concerns had as much to do with the philosophy of science as they did with moral philosophy or epistemology proper, and were bound up with wider social and scientific changes taking place in the early modern period.
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DOI 10.1016/S0039-3681(01)00022-X
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References found in this work BETA
Max Hocutt (1974). Aristotle's Four Becauses. Philosophy 49 (190):385 - 399.
J. R. Milton (1987). Induction Before Hume. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 38 (1):49-74.
I. Halonen & J. Hintikka (2000). Aristotelian Explanations. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 31 (1):125-136.

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