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Thomas Reid (1710-1796) was a Scottish philosopher and key figure in the Scottish Common Sense School. He taught at Kings College Aberdeen before succeeding Adam Smith as Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow in 1764.  Reid is primarily known for the epistemological theory he develops in response to the perceived failings of the 'way of ideas', the position associated with the likes of Descartes, Locke, Berkeley and Hume that claims that the immediate objects of perception are private mental items. Reid takes Hume as demonstrating that such a perceptual theory leads to a complete scepticism. As an alternative to this, Reid offers a direct realist account of perception and argues that all first principles of common sense stand on an equal footing – there is no reason to favour perception or reason over testimony or the belief in an external world, for example.  One other aspect of Reid's Common Sense theory that continues to exert significant influence is his contra-casual account of human agency.

Key works Reid's three major works represent two periods in his intellectual life: his first important work, An Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense (Reid 1997) was written during his time at Aberdeen; his Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man (Reid 2002) and Essays on the Active Powers of Man (Reid 1788) reflect his work at Glasgow. All three works were included in Sir William Hamilton’s The Works of Thomas Reid (Reid 1846), though this has been superseded by the Edinburgh Edition of Thomas Reid, a projected 10 volume series published by Edinburgh University Press and Pennsylvania State University Press. The Edinburgh edition of the Inquiry, Reid 1997, is edited by Derek R. Brookes, the Intellectual Powers, Reid 2002, by Derek R. Brookes and Knud Haakonssen, and the Active Powers, Reid 1788, by Knud Haakonssen and James A. Harris.
Introductions LEHRER 1989 is the only introductory text on Reid available at the present time, with an emphasis on Reid's epistemology. Wolterstorff 2001 provides an alternative, highly accessible discussion of his epistemological concerns. The papers in Cuneo & van Woudenberg 2004 cover a wider range of core themes from Reid’s writings, including his moral and aesthetic theories. Yaffe & Nichols 2009 is the best online overview.
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  1. added 2020-05-22
    Ideen: Repräsentationalismus in der Frühen Neuzeit. Texte und Kommentare.Dominik Perler & Johannes Haag - 2010 - Berlin, Deutschland: De Gruyter.
  2. added 2020-05-18
    Conventionalism in Reid’s ‘Geometry of Visibles’.Edward Slowik - 2003 - Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 34:467-489.
    The role of conventions in the formulation of Thomas Reid’s theory of the geometry of vision, which he calls the “geometry of visibles”, is the subject of this investigation. In particular, we will examine the work of N. Daniels and R. Angell who have alleged that, respectively, Reid’s “geometry of visibles” and the geometry of the visual field are non-Euclidean. As will be demonstrated, however, the construction of any geometry of vision is subject to a choice of conventions regarding the (...)
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  3. added 2020-04-26
    Il paradosso della percezione.Paolo Spinicci - 2019 - Milano: Mimesis Edizioni.
    Che natura ha l'oggetto della percezione? E come dobbiamo pensare le proprietà che lo caratterizzano percettivamente? Sono questi i temi che vengono discussi in queste pagine che cercano di far luce sul concetto di percezione, riflettendo sulla filosofia di Locke, Berkeley, Reid e sulle diverse forme del realismo diretto.
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  4. added 2020-03-10
    Reid's Regress.Terence Cuneo & Randall Harp - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (277):678-698.
    Thomas Reid's Essays on the Active Powers presents what is probably the most thoroughly developed version of agent-causal libertarianism in the modern canon. While commentators today often acknowledge Reid's contribution, they typically focus on what appears to be a serious problem for the view: Reid appears to commit himself to a position according to which acting freely would require an agent to engage in an infinite number of exertions of active power. In this essay, we maintain that, properly understood, Reid's (...)
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  5. added 2020-03-10
    Reid on the Autonomy of Ethics: From Active Power to Moral Nonnaturalism.Terence Cuneo & Randall Harp - 2016 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 2 (4):523-541.
    Thomas Reid has the unusual distinction of arriving at a metaethical position very much like G. E. Moore’s via a route very similar to that employed by the Kantians. That is, Reid embraces a version of nonnaturalist moral realism by appeal not to open question-style considerations but to a particular account of agency. In this essay, we reconstruct Reid’s agency-centered argument for his constitutivist version of moral nonnaturalism, highlighting its commitments. Having presented Reid’s argument, we close by considering a prominent (...)
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  6. added 2020-02-11
    Manifest Activity: Thomas Reid's Theory of Action.Roger Gallie - 2005 - Mind 114 (455):796-799.
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  7. added 2020-02-11
    Thomas Reid and the Story of Epistemology.James van Cleve - 2004 - Mind 113 (450):405-416.
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  8. added 2020-02-11
    Thomas Reid and Scepticism: His Reliabilist Response.Roger Gallie - 2003 - Mind 112 (447):518-521.
  9. added 2020-02-06
    Just Imagining Things: Hume's Conception-Based Account of Cognition.Lewis Powell - 2011 - Dissertation, University of Southern California
    Philosophers have routinely taken a pessimistic view of the account of cognition offered by David Hume in his Treatise of Human Nature, claiming that Hume's limited explanatory resources cannot capture the rich complexity of our thought, judgment, and reasoning. I provide a qualified defense of Hume's attempt to analyze a cognitive activity in terms of objectual conception, ie conceiving or imagining an object. I defend Hume from objections offered by his contemporary Thomas Reid (and echoed by various recent Hume scholars), (...)
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  10. added 2020-01-21
    Thomas Reid's Common Sense Philosophy of Mind.Todd Buras - 2019 - In Rebecca Copenhaver (ed.), Philosophy of Mind in the Early Modern and Modern Ages: The History of the Philosophy of Mind, vol. 4. New York, NY, USA: pp. 298-317.
    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 (...)
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  11. added 2020-01-21
    Parrying Parity: A Reply to a Reidian Critique of Idealism.Todd Buras & Trent Dougherty - 2017 - In Tyron Goldschmidt & Kenneth L. Pearce (eds.), Idealism: New Essays in Metaphysics. New York, NY, USA: pp. 1-17.
    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 (...)
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  12. added 2020-01-21
    Thomas Reid's Experimentum Crucis.Todd Buras - 2015 - In Rebecca Copenhaver & Todd Buras (eds.), Thomas Reid on Mind, Knowledge, and Value. New York, NY, USA: pp. 14-34.
    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.
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  13. added 2019-10-15
    Reid on Moral Sentimentalism.Camil Golub - 2019 - Res Philosophica 96 (4):431-444.
    In the Essays on the Active Powers of Man V. 7, Thomas Reid seeks to show “[t]hat moral approbation implies a real judgment,” contrasting this thesis with the view that moral approbation is no more than a feeling. Unfortunately, his criticism of moral sentimentalism systematically conflates two different metaethical views: non-cognitivism about moral thought and subjectivism about moral properties. However, if we properly disentangle the various parts of Reid's discussion, we can isolate pertinent arguments against each of these views. Some (...)
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  14. added 2019-09-29
    On the Ancestry of Reid's Inquiry: Stewart, Fearn, and Reid's Early Manuscripts.Giovanni B. Grandi - 2018 - In Charles Bradford Bow (ed.), Common Sense in the Scottish Enlightenment. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 77-106.
    Reid’s rejection of the “theory of ideas” implies that sensations are not copies of external qualities such as extension and figure. Reid also says that not even the order of sensations is spatial. However, in his early manuscripts Reid did not deny that sensations are arranged spatially. He simply denied that our ideas of extension and figure are copied from any single atomic sensation. Only subsequently did Reid explicitly reject the view that sensations are arranged spatially. The question of the (...)
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  15. added 2019-09-24
    "Suppose I Am Pricked with a Pin": Locke, Reid and the Implications of Representationalism.Margaret Atherton - 1984 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 65 (2):149.
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  16. added 2019-08-22
    Reid and Berkeley on Scepticism, Representationalism, and Ideas.Peter West - 2019 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 17 (3):191-210.
    Both Reid and Berkeley reject ‘representationalism’, an epistemological position whereby we perceive things in the world indirectly via ideas in our mind, on the grounds of anti-scepticism and common sense. My aim in this paper is to draw out the similarities between Reid and Berkeley's ‘anti-representationalist’ arguments, whilst also identifying the root of their disagreements on certain fundamental metaphysical issues. Reid famously rejects Berkeley's idealism, in which all that exists are ideas and minds, because it undermines the dictates of common (...)
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  17. added 2019-06-07
    Review: Essais Sur les Pouvoirs Actifs de L'Homme. [REVIEW]Roger Pouivet - 2011 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 9 (2):250-253.
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  18. added 2019-06-07
    Review: Thomas Reid, Jitsuzairon, Kikagaku, Utopia. [REVIEW]Sayaka Oki - 2006 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 4 (1):89-92.
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  19. added 2019-06-06
    Introduction: Scottish Philosophy in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World.Charles Bradford Bow - 2013 - History of European Ideas 39 (5):605-612.
    The Introduction contextualises the development of Thomas Reid's Common Sense philosophy as the foundation for what would be known as the Scottish School of Common Sense. This introductory discussion of Reid's philosophical system bridges his thought in the Scottish Enlightenment with the special issue's focus of Scottish philosophy in the nineteenth-century Atlantic World.
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  20. added 2019-06-06
    Review: Thomas Reid: Essays on the Active Powers of Man. [REVIEW]Gordon Graham - 2011 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 9 (2):253-254.
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  21. added 2019-06-06
    Thomas Reid's Theory of Perception. [REVIEW]James A. Harris - 2009 - Philosophical Review 118 (1):112-115.
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  22. added 2019-06-06
    Review: Thomas Reid on Practical Ethics. [REVIEW]Gordon Graham - 2008 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 6 (1):111-114.
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  23. added 2019-06-06
    Critical Notice: Thomas Reid's Theory of Perception. [REVIEW]Alexander Staudacher - 2008 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 6 (2):197-202.
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  24. added 2019-06-06
    Reid and Condillac on Sensation and Perception: A Thought Experiment on Sensory Deprivation.Giovanni B. Grandi - 2008 - Southwest Philosophy Review 24 (1):191-200.
    In order to illustrate the difference between sensation and perception, Reid imagines a blind man that by ‘some strange distemper’ has lost all his notions of external objects, but has retained the power of sensation and reasoning. Reid argues that since sensations do not resemble external objects, the blind man could not possibly infer from them any notion of primary qualities. Condillac proposed a similar thought experiment in the Treatise on Sensations. I argue that Condillac can reach a conclusion opposite (...)
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  25. added 2019-06-06
    Manifest Activity: Thomas Reid's Theory of Action. [REVIEW]James A. Harris - 2006 - Philosophy 81 (1):170-175.
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  26. added 2019-06-06
    Conventionalism In Reid’s ‘Geometry Of Visibles’.Edward Slowik - 2003 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 34 (3):467-489.
    The subject of this investigation is the role of conventions in the formulation of Thomas Reid’s theory of the geometry of vision, which he calls the ‘geometry of visibles’. In particular, we will examine the work of N. Daniels and R. Angell who have alleged that, respectively, Reid’s ‘geometry of visibles’ and the geometry of the visual field are non-Euclidean. As will be demonstrated, however, the construction of any geometry of vision is subject to a choice of conventions regarding the (...)
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  27. added 2019-06-06
    Thomas Reid’s Geometry of Visibles.James van Cleve - 2002 - Philosophical Review 111 (3):373-416.
    In a brief but remarkable section of the Inquiry into the Human Mind, Thomas Reid argued that the visual field is governed by principles other than the familiar theorems of Euclid—theorems we would nowadays classify as Riemannian. On the strength of this section, he has been credited by Norman Daniels, R. B. Angell, and others with discovering non-Euclidean geometry over half a century before the mathematicians—sixty years before Lobachevsky and ninety years before Riemann. I believe that Reid does indeed have (...)
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  28. added 2019-06-06
    Thomas Reid and the Problem of Induction: From Common Experience to Common Sense.Benjamin W. Redekop - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (1):35-57.
    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, (...)
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  29. added 2019-06-06
    Thomas Reid and the Story of Epistemology. [REVIEW]D. D. Todd - 2002 - Dialogue 41 (4):819-822.
    After over a century of total neglect, the philosophy of Thomas Reid has attracted increasing interest over the past several decades. A new scholarly edition of Reid’s works is underway, with two volumes already available. Even more important than such scholarship is the fact that contemporary philosophers too numerous to list are finding in Reid’s philosophy substantial material useful for their own work in epistemology, philosophy of mind, ethics, and action theory. This book is a welcome addition to the growing (...)
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  30. added 2019-06-06
    Thomas Reid: Ethics, Aesthetics and the Anatomy of the Self. [REVIEW]Nicholas Wolterstorff - 2002 - Mind 111 (441):103-107.
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  31. added 2019-06-06
    Thomas Reid on the Animate Creation: Papers Relating to the Life Sciences. [REVIEW]D. D. Todd - 1998 - Dialogue 37 (1):205-209.
    The present volume is an important and highly useful contribution to Reid studies that adds considerably to our knowledge of his work. The book is well made, and I noticed only one misprint. It contains three sets of manuscripts, one dealing with natural history, another on physiology, and a third, much the largest, on Reid’s work on materialism. It also contains a statement by Paul Wood of very sensible editorial principles, seventy-four pages of introductions to the manuscript material, some explanatory (...)
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  32. added 2019-06-06
    Sense and Signification in Reid and Descartes: A Critique of Yolton's Reading.James W. Manns - 1997 - Dialogue 36 (3):511-526.
    Le but de cet article est de mettre en évidence les différences entre Descartes et Reid au sujet du rôle que chacun assigne aux sensations dans le processus perceptuel. Dans Perceptual Acquaintance, John Yolton ne trouve quepeu de choses dans les conceptions de Reid qui ne soient pas déjà de quelque façon présentes chez Descartes. Je soutiens au contraire que la théorie des sensations-comme-signes de Reid constitue un développement considérable par rapport à celle de Descartes ou à quoi que ce (...)
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  33. added 2019-06-06
    Plantinga and the Naturalized Epistemology of Thomas Reid. [REVIEW]D. D. Todd - 1996 - Dialogue 35 (1):93-108.
    These two books are Volumes 1 and 2 of a three-volume work; the projected third volume, Warranted Christian Belief, has yet to be published. In the first volume, Warrant: The Current Debate, Plantinga surveys the current chaos in epistemology stemming from the breakdown of classical foundationalism and examines critically the efforts of several contemporary philosophers to introduce some order into the field, most particularly Roderick Chisholm, William Alston, John Pollock, Laurence BonJour and, to a lesser extent, others such as Richard (...)
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  34. added 2019-06-06
    Reid’s Critique of Berkeley and Hume: What’s the Big Idea?John Greco - 1995 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 55 (2):279-296.
    Reid thought that the linchpin of his response to\nskepticism was his rejection of the theory of ideas. I\nargue that Reid's assessment of his own work is incorrect;\nthe theory of ideas plays no important role in at least one\nof Berkeley's and Hume's arguments for skepticism, and\nrejecting the theory is therefore neither necessary nor\nsufficient as a reply to that argument. Reid does in fact\nanswer the argument, but with his theory of evidence rather\nthan his rejection of the theory of ideas.
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  35. added 2019-06-06
    Peter Jones, Ed., "The "Science of Man" in the Scottish Enlightenment: Hume, Reid, and Their Contemporaries". [REVIEW]Mark H. Waymack - 1992 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 30 (2):307.
  36. added 2019-06-06
    D. D. Todd, Ed., "The Philosophical Orations of Thomas Reid Delivered at Graduation Ceremonies in King's College, Aberdeen, 1753, 1756, 1759, 1762". [REVIEW]Todd L. Adams - 1991 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 29 (3):499.
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  37. added 2019-06-06
    D.D. Todd, Ed., The Philosophical Orations Of Thomas Reid: Delivered At Graduation Ceremonies In King's College, Aberdeen, 1753, 1756, 1759, 1762. [REVIEW]Charles Stewart-Robertson - 1989 - Philosophy in Review 9 (8):338-341.
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  38. added 2019-06-06
    Du Désintéressement Et du Sens Commun: Réflexions Sur Shaftesbury Et Kant.Danielle Lories - 1989 - Études Phénoménologiques 5 (9/10):189-217.
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  39. added 2019-06-06
    M. Jamie Ferreira, "Scepticism and Reasonable Doubt. The British Naturalist Tradition in Wilkins, Hume, Reid and Newman". [REVIEW]Henry G. Van Leeuwen - 1989 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 27 (2):312.
  40. added 2019-06-06
    Reid’s Hume: Remarks on Hume in Some Early Logic Lectures of Reid.Fred S. Michael & Emily Michael - 1987 - The Monist 70 (4):508-526.
  41. added 2019-06-06
    Reid’s Indebtedness to Bacon.Alan Wade Davenport - 1987 - The Monist 70 (4):496-507.
    My intention in this paper is to remedy what may be regarded as an oversight with respect to the philosophy of Thomas Reid. It is well-known that Reid attempted to pursue his studies of the human mind according to the new method of induction and experiment. Unfortunately, when one encounters discussions of Reid’s concept of science and method, it is Newton who usually holds the position of prominence. Francis Bacon, if he is mentioned at all, is hardly allowed to make (...)
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  42. added 2019-06-06
    Reid’s Conception of Human Freedom.William L. Rowe - 1987 - The Monist 70 (4):430-441.
    During the 19th-century controversy over human freedom, a controversy involving such figures as Locke, Collins, Clarke, Leibniz, Price, and Reid, two different conceptions of freedom were at the center of the dispute. The first of these, of which John Locke is a major advocate, I will call Lockean freedom, the other conception, of which Thomas Reid is the leading advocate, I will call Reidian freedom. The history of this controversy is fundamentally a dispute over which of these two concepts of (...)
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  43. added 2019-06-06
    Reid’s Conception of Common Sense.James Somerville - 1987 - The Monist 70 (4):418-429.
    When Reid wrote An Inquiry Into The Human Mind, On The Principles Of Common Sense the term ‘common sense’ had long been in use in something like its ordinary sense today. Prompted no doubt by Priestley’s criticism that he had “made an innovation in the received use” of the term he devoted a chapter of his Essays On The Intellectual Powers Of Man to the use of the term: “All that is intended in this chapter is to explain the meaning (...)
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  44. added 2019-06-06
    The Failure of Thomas Reid’s Aesthetics.Theodore A. Gracyk - 1987 - The Monist 70 (4):465-482.
    A spate of recent articles on Thomas Reid’s aesthetic theory constitutes a valuable commentary on both Reid’s own theory and on eighteenth-century aesthetics. However, while these articles provide a generally sympatheic introduction to Reid’s position, they are primarily expository in nature and uncritical in tone. I shall therefore address the plausibility of both Reid’s general aesthetic theory and the arguments advanced for the theory. I contend that his theory, however much an improvement over those offered by his contemporaries, is fatally (...)
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  45. added 2019-06-06
    Reid's Direct Approach to Perception.Aaron Ben-Zeev - 1986 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 17 (1):99.
  46. added 2019-06-06
    John W. Yolton, "Thinking Matter: Materialism in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Perceptual Acquaintance From Descartes to Reid". [REVIEW]Richard A. Watson - 1985 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 23 (3):433.
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  47. added 2019-06-06
    Louise Marcil-Lacoste, "Claude Buffier and Thomas Reid. Two Common-Sense Philosophers". [REVIEW]S. A. Grave - 1985 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 23 (2):262.
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  48. added 2019-06-06
    Evelyne Griffin-Collart, "La Philosophie Écossaise du Sens Commun: Thomas Reid Et Dugald Stewart". [REVIEW]Manfred Kuehn - 1983 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 21 (1):105.
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  49. added 2019-06-06
    Thomas Reid’s Analysis of Sensation.William J. Ellos - 1983 - New Scholasticism 57 (1):107-114.
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  50. added 2019-06-06
    The Seriousness of Reid’s Sceptical Admissions.Louise Marcil Lacoste - 1978 - The Monist 61 (2):311-325.
    For anyone acquainted with Reid’s works and the literature on them, the idea of proposing a hypothesis to explain contradictory comments on his philosophy, and the further idea of borrowing this hypothesis from Hume’s threefold account of scepticism will not only appear ironical but quite unlikely. Yet, this is what I propose to do in showing that Reid’s sceptical admissions can be seen as a form of “mitigated scepticism.” And while I acknowledge the irony of my hypothesis, I do not (...)
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