, Volume 196, Issue 11, pp 4511–4525 | Cite as

Why Reid was no dogmatist

  • Mark BoespflugEmail author


According to dogmatism, a perceptual experience with p as its content is always a (defeasible) source of justification for the belief that p. Thomas Reid has been an extant source of inspiration for this view. I argue, however, that, though there is a superficial consonance between Reid’s position and that of the dogmatists, their views are, more fundamentally, at variance with one another. While dogmatists take their position to express a necessary epistemic truth, discernible a priori, Reid holds that if something like dogmatism is true, it is a mere contingent truth, discernible a posteriori. Owing to Reid’s epistemological naturalism, it might have been false that a perceptual experience is, by itself, a source of justification. On account of regarding something like dogmatism as only contingently true, then, Reid accepts the demand for a meta-justification of a sort that dogmatists squarely reject, and purports to meet it. Given that dogmatism essentially involves the rejection of the demand to meet this kind of meta-justification, it would seem that Reid should not be construed as endorsing dogmatism at all. I close by briefly considering how Reid’s view fits amongst dogmatism’s competitors.


Reid Dogmatism Justification Perception Pryor Huemer Testimony Epistemological naturalism 


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUSA

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