Skepticism, Reason and Reidianism

In Albert Casullo & Joshua Thurow (eds.), The A Priori in Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 205 (2013)
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Abstract

The traditional problems of epistemology have often been thought to be properly solved only by the provision of an argument, with premises justified by rational intuition and introspection, for the probable truth of our beliefs in the problematic domains. Following the lead of Thomas Reid, a sizable number of contemporary epistemologists, including many proponents of so-called "Reformed epistemology" regarding religious belief, reject as arbitrary the preferential treatment of reason and introspection implicit in the traditional view of the problems. These "Reidians" insist that the traditional problems cannot be solved in the expected manner, but they go on to suggest that this result is of little significance because similar skeptical questions can be raised regarding a priori and introspective justification. After making clear the significance of the Reidian objection, I endeavor to defend the traditional preference for rational intuition over our other sources of belief by demonstrating that the usual skeptical worries cannot be equally raised against a priori justification. Then, after a brief consideration of some unduly neglected passages in Reid's writings in which he appears to concede that the traditional partiality to reason and introspection is not, in fact, arbitrary, I argue that it is the Reidians who are guilty of arbitrary partiality.

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Joel Pust
University of Delaware

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