Tag Archives: Common sense

Why Thomas Reid Matters to the Epistemology of the Social Sciences

L. Jaffro & V. França Freitas (2019). Why Thomas Reid Matters to the Epistemology of the Social Sciences. The Philosophical Quarterly, advance article. https://doi.org/10.1093/pq/pqz031

Little attention has been paid to the fact that Thomas Reid’s epistemology applies to ‘political reasoning’ as well as to various operations of the mind. Reid was interested in identifying the ‘first principles’ of political science as he did with other domains of human knowledge. This raises the question of the extent to which the study of human action falls within the competence of ‘common sense’. Our aim is to reconstruct and assess Reid’s epistemology of the sciences of social action and to determine how it connects with the fundamental tenets of his general epistemology. In the first part, we portray Reid as a methodological individualist and focus on the status of the first principles of political reasoning. The second part examines Reid’s viHistory of philosophyews on the explanatory power of the principles of human action. Finally, we draw a parallel between Reid’s epistemology and the methodology of Weberian sociology.

‘Scientific Persecution’ and the Argument from Common Sense

L. Jaffro (2009). L’argument du sens commun et la ‘persécution des scientifiques’. Philosophiques. Revue de la Société de philosophie du Québec, 36(1), 131-147. http://id.erudit.org/iderudit/038013ar

Drawing mainly on An Essay on Philosophical Method (1933) and on The New Leviathan (1942), this paper sets out R. G. Collingwood’s main arguments against G. E. Moore’s appeal to common sense. According to The New Leviathan, the recourse to common sense as a safeguard against scepticism or idealism leads to ‘scientific persecution’ and ‘obscurantism’. That view might be considered as excessive. However, after a close examination of the structure of the argument from common sense, Collingwood’s critique appears to be relevant. This does not prevent him from using the notion of common sense, understood as a set of basic beliefs. There is no contradiction here, provided that we distinguish the notion of common sense from the argument from common sense.

From Hermeneutics to Common Sense. Stanley Rosen on Precomprehension

L. Jaffro (2006). From Hermeneutics to Common Sense. Stanley Rosen on Precomprehension ». In N. Ranasinghe (ed.), Logos and Eros. Essays Honoring Stanley Rosen. South Bend, Ind: St Augustine Press, 36-49.

The chapter defends Stanley Rosen’s claim that hermeneutics presupposes pre-theoretical reason, and analyses the nature of that presupposition. Insofar as they do not use it as a criterion, philosophers are right when they recognize that they must needs necessarily draw on common sense as the medium of mutual understanding and criticism.

Shaftesbury on the Cogito. An Intermediary between Gassendism and the Common Sense School

L. Jaffro, Shaftesbury on the Cogito. An Intermediary between Gassendism and the Common Sense School. In G. Carabelli and P. Zanardi (eds.), Nuovi saggi su Shaftesbury. Padova: Il Poligrafo, 2003, 111-125.

Shaftesbury’ fourth Miscellany (1711) starts with a brief criticism of Descartes’ cogito. He rejects the modern metaphysical account of ‘egoity’ in the name of the ancient Stoic conception of a moral discipline of the self.  We do not need the metaphysical certitude of cogito sum as a foundation stone, nor any ‘wonderfully refined speculations’ on the nature of the ego; on the contrary, the ordinary and pre-philosophical experience of my own existence as a subject is ‘sufficient ground for a moralist’.