Of Common Sense and First Principles

  • Roger D. Gallie
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 45)


At several points in previous chapters we have seen Reid invoking, in the main explicitly, certain propositions as first principles which do not require justification and in terms of which by some appropriate means{l} we may justify other propositions. In particular we saw Reid appealing to such principles in chapter IV as a way of mounting certain ontological theses as to the being of material bodies, minds and God. It is time now to come to grips with a number of issues. First and foremost there is the problem of how to decide whether a candidate for a first principle is a good candidate for that status. Second comes the question of whether some first principles are in any way more important or more fundamental than others. And then we might profitably enquire as to how the way in which the suitability of candiates for the status of first principle is determined bears upon the second issue, if at all, given that some first principles might be used in or presupposed by such a procedure. It seems on the whole to be Reid’s contention that the determination of good candidates for this important status is a task within the abilities of men who possess what Reid calls common sense. Let us therefore first turn to consider Reid’s account of that important notion.


Common Sense Human Mind Contingent Truth Probable Evidence Implicit Definition 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger D. Gallie
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LeicesterUK

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