Revisiting Reid on Religion

Journal of Scottish Philosophy 19 (3):261-274 (2021)
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This paper answers two interpretive questions surrounding belief in God in Thomas Reid’s philosophy, the status question and the detachability question. The former has to do with the type of justification Reid assigns to belief in God – immediate or mediate. The later question is whether anything philosophically significant depends on his belief in God. I argue that, for Reid, belief in God is immediately justified and integral to some parts of his system. Reid’s response to skepticism about God is more complicated and more interesting than many of the contemporary philosophers who, citing Reid as inspiration, also hold that belief in God enjoys immediate justification. In Reid’s hands the approach to belief in God does not compete with inferential justification, does not rely on a special faculty, and foregrounds the developmental character of his epistemology.

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Todd Buras
Baylor University


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