What Sort of Epistemological Realist was Thomas Reid?

Journal of Scottish Philosophy 4 (2):111-124 (2006)
Reid's theory of perception has long been cited as a paradigmatic example of direct realism; and the term “direct” undoubtedly carries the connotation that external objects are items in “the manifold of intuition.” There are important ways in which perception, on Reid's analysis, undoubtedly is immediate and direct. Nonetheless, this paper contends that, with the exception of his account of our perception of visible fi gure, Reid's theory is not an example of direct realism, if a condition of a theory of percep- tion's being a direct realist theory is that it hold that perception yields acquaintance with external objects, so that those objects are present to consciousness. The defense given in Thomas Reid and the Story of Epistemology of the no-acquaintance interpretation of Reid's theory occurred in the context of a comprehensive account of Reid's theory of perception, and was accordingly brief. This essay places that interpretation in the center of attention so as to offer a more adequate defense, developing somewhat more fully the arguments briefly presented in the book, and adding some additional considerations
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DOI 10.3366/jsp.2006.4.2.111
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