REIDBETWEENEXTERNALISMANDINTERNALISMJHP5.doc

When one pricks ones finger with a needle for example

  • No School
  • AA 1
  • 27

This preview shows page 6 - 9 out of 27 pages.

when one pricks one’s finger with a needle, for example, doesn’t intrinsically represent the sharpness of the needle, but it does signify (it is a sign of) the needle’s sharpness. Reid’s point about sensations being signs, is that there is no necessary connection between sensations and what they signify—and no necessary connection between this sensation (sign) and the ensuing belief that something has a certain quality. For all we know, the sensations that go with hearing might have evinced beliefs about the colours of objects! Or, to cite Reid, “Perhaps we might have been so made as to taste with our fingers, to smell with our ears, and to hear by our nose”. (IHM 176) And so there is, in an important sense, something dark about the way evidence evinces belief—something that is inaccessible to subjects through reflection. That we nonetheless connect certain sensations with (the belief in) an object’s having a particular quality, is, as Reid says, “the effect of our constitution” (IHM 61), “owing to the will of our Maker” (IHM 176). It is clear that Reid wanted to endorse the claim that beliefs effected by our constitution have PES. Externalists take this to heart and ascribe to Reid allegiance to the following principle: a belief has PES when, 6
Image of page 6

Subscribe to view the full document.

[ii] (1) the belief is the product of our natural faculties, and (2) our natural faculties are reliable: our sensations inform us truly about the qualities of mind external objects. Now [ii] is obviously an external condition, as the typical subject has no reflective access to whether or not it is satisfied. By reflection alone the typical subject cannot tell whether a particular belief of his is the product of a reliable faculty, nor can reflection alone tell him whether or not the sensations he has are truly indicative of the qualities of mind- external objects. That is to say: someone’s belief may satisfy condition [ii] without that person knowing that it does. Let us next turn to passages that speak to the internalist, were he to be aware of them. 3. Internalist Strands in Reid’s Epistemology Chapter XX of essay II of The Essays on the Intellectual Powers , which bears the title “Of the Evidence of Sense and of Belief in general” contains a paragraph that the internalist is apt to find congenial: That men often believe what there is no just ground to believe, and thereby are led into hurtful errors, is too evident to be denied: And, on the other hand, that there are just grounds for belief can as little be doubted by any man who is not a perfect sceptic. We give the name of evidence to whatever is a ground for belief. To believe without evidence is a weakness which every man is concerned to avoid, and which every man wishes to avoid. Nor is it in a man’s power to believe anything longer than he thinks he has evidence. (EIP 228) 7
Image of page 7
Here Reid is again dealing with beliefs lacking and having PES, this time in terms of beliefs that it is or is not a weakness to have. When does a belief have PES? According to
Image of page 8

Subscribe to view the full document.

Image of page 9
  • Fall '19
  • Test, Belief, Internalism and externalism, Thomas Reid

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern