Talk:Scottish Common Sense Realism

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Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: rough consensus not to move. Andrewa (talk) 14:06, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

Common Sense RealismCommon sense realism

  • Common Sense Realism needs to be moved to Common sense realism per normal style (the latter is currently a redirect to a third page which, like a fourth and fifth page also, is (rightly) proposed for merger with the present page). Redheylin (talk) 02:13, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
  • But is 'Common Sense Realism' a proper-name? Anthony Appleyard (talk) 22:48, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose Anthony Appleyard asks the correct question: Is it a proper noun? If so, it needs to be capitalized throughout. I read several of the sections that Google books called up of its usage, and it seems to definitively be a proper noun and not descriptive. Consider, for example, this usage, "Scottish Common Sense Realism provided its Scottish and later its American proponents with a powerful weapon with which to defend Calvinist orthodoxy against deism, idealism, skepticism and later neology and radical biblical criticism." --Bejnar (talk) 04:47, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I agree with Bejnar. Rjensen (talk) 07:23, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Anthony and Bejnar.
    — V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 17:41, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

A tangled history[edit]

It is noted above that a complete copy of the current article is at Philosophical realism#The Scottish School of Common Sense Realism, and that common sense realism is also a redirect to that article. This is at least partly owing to this undiscussed merge. Following the rejection of the above RM, there's some tidying up to do regarding hatnotes, redirects, content duplication, and perhaps even page histories. Andrewa (talk) 14:14, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

I support user:rjensen's proposed move, since;

1) The Scottish school is important enough to the question of direct realism that it really has to be included in the page Philosophical realism in something like its present form. 2) It is evidently also felt that the school has an importance to Scottish culture that does not extend to the minutiae of the history of philosophy of mind. 3) Common-sense realism as such is not by any means restricted to the Scottish school. 4) It is important that users are able easily to find info both as regards philosophy and as regards Scottish culture.

The best means to achieve this would be to make the present page (both with and without caps) a disambiguation and to use the absolutely clear "Scottish School of Common Sense" for Scottish cultural categorisation and "Philosophical realism" in order to present the ideas in their wider context. Redheylin (talk) 09:53, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

Refactored discussion form Scottish School of Common Sense[edit]

Improper Redirect[edit]

The common-sense metaphysics link under philosophy currently redirects to "Infant cognitive development," it should actually be redirected to "Scottish School of Common Sense"; the philosophical idea of common sense has nothing to do with infant cognition, it has everything to do with Thomas Reid (and others in that school). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:35, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

Influence on Founders[edit]

The thesis that Scottish Common Sense Realism was widely accepted by the "Founders" was a 1970s intellectual fad that is at best questionable and at worst misleading; it was most notoriously pushed by Garry Wills in his discredited book Inventing America. The article gives a citation, fair enough, for the strange statement that "Reid's philosophy was pervasive during the American Revolution and served as a stabilizing philosophical influence". This is questionable, and probably the more important or at least semianl proponent of the idea was Francis Hutcheson, not even mentioned in the article, only as a link. Hutcheson should be added. The opposite view should be presented, or perhaps a timeline should be introduced. Other than from Adam's personal reading of Hutcheson after he left Harvard, Scottish "common sense" moral philosophy was largely unknown in American until Professor Witherspoon introduced it at the College of New Jersey in 1768. After the war, it did indeed take over in academia -- but very few founders went to college before this date. A look at the college curriculum of the period at Harvard, Yale, King's College, Queen's, William and Mary, Oxford, Cambridge, Rhode Island, and even New Jersey before Witherspoon, finds no teaching of the idea. Adams, Witherspoon, and possibly Rush and Madison were influenced by the idea, and Jefferson, a curious intellectual rover who eventually tried philosophy out, read it after the war. But the American revolvuion, founded by men of true common sense seeding a common "harmonizing sentiment" on their moral and political goals, only half of whom went to college and almost all of them before 1768, took their guidance and morality from other sources.Harrycroswell (talk) 11:04, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

Bad name[edit]

While Wikipedia is a reference for commonly used terms, and I'm not suggesting a change in the title for that reason. However, the very poor and inaccurate if common name "Scottish Common Sense Realism" should be at least discussed, particularly as it is confused with the much more popular, influential, and unrelated political work of Thomas Paine. Sometimes it is called the one word “commonsense” moral philosophy, as in "Scottish commonsense moral philosophy", but Jefferson called it "innate sense", possibly a better term. Even Gary Wills (or his editor)in Inventing America used quotes and called it Scottish "common sense" moral philosophy. Originally, it meant sensus communis [a sense common to all], but “common sense” today means to us today an obvious down-to-earth way of thinking based on a simple perception of a situation. It was largely a "moral philosophy" that attempted to create a quantifying or scientific morality, with abstract models of human nature, but lacking measurements; hence even the "realism" is questionable. A short section discussing this might also include some of the comments from "proposed move" above.Harrycroswell (talk) 11:04, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

which scholars do you have in mind who say it's a bad title? Scholars and editors of major journals use it in their titles, such as 1) Selections from the Scottish Philosophy of Common Sense by Thomas Reid, Adam Ferguson, James Beattie and Dugald Stewart (2012); 2) Schultz, Lucille M. "Uncovering the Significance of the Animal Imagery in" Modern Chivalry:" An Application of Scottish Common Sense Realism." Early American Literature (1979): 306-311. 3) Haakonssen, Knud. "Scottish Common Sense Realism." in A Companion to American Thought (1995). 4) Jang, Sung Shik. "Contextualization in the Princeton theology, 1822-1878: Scottish common sense realism and the doctrine of providence in the theology of Charles Hodge." (PhD 1993) 5) Martin, Terence. The instructed vision: Scottish Common Sense philosophy and the origins of American fiction (1969); 6) Kuehn, Manfred. Scottish Common Sense in Germany, 1768-1800: A Contribution to the History of Critical Philosophy (McGill-Queen's University Press, 1987) Rjensen (talk) 10:15, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for the quick assembly of those titles to 1969 to 2012 articles. Perhaps the best article on this is from and, from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP), an “open-access dynamic reference work”, a rival to Wikipedia in some ways, but very good; I would quote it and reference it. I particularly love this quote:

“Common sense” can mean two things, in fact: widespread popular conviction on the one hand, or the basic principles at work in human reasoning and belief formation on the other. Widespread conviction can be false, of course, which is why the method of the School of Common Sense was thought suspect by many, described by Kant, for example, as a stratagem by which “the stalest windbag can confidently take up with the soundest thinker”

As I noted, the term "common sense" is common, but not very good in that is ambiguous or potentially conflicting with even more common “common sense” uses elsewhere, including in daily speech. In fact, Wikipedia gives a page to Common sense (disambiguation). The Latin phrase for it is sensus communis: if you search the internet on the phrase, you can find that term used in many scholarly articles as well, particularly on Kant. Wikipedia notes that "Sensus communis" is the Latin translation of koinē aesthēsis -- so the term has some pedigree before the 20th century used it to label an 18th century school of philosophy. Google "Scottish commonsense" and you find scholarly articles using that term. There is a Wikipedia article on Moral sense theory, yet another name for the same concept, an article which actually includes Francis Hutcheson, who started it all. It is also called a “Theory of Moral Sentiments”. There is a Wikipedia article on Google "Scottish moral philosophy", well, and so on and so on. The suggestion is not that the term “common sense realism” isn't used, or that it isn't the most popular, but that other terms are used as well, which indicates some interesting confusion in naming, and they should be linked. This is reflective of the large numbers of different philosophers who argued over which sense was primary. As noted, Jefferson called it "innate sense", which eliminates the confusion with Thomas Paine. In fact, now the more I look, the more I seem even more variant names of the idea, scattered over Wikipedia and elsewhere. I see no point in trying to resolve what appears to be a useful, if fecund, redundancy of terms for related ideas coming out of a small country between 1740-1790 by a dozen or so teachers. I’m simply suggesting a single paragraph be added discussing the various alternative names, with links to Wikipedia articles so a reader can find alternate names, and that tie it into the great tradition of Medieval and Greek thought, as well as the later Kant, and the idea’s first proponent Francis Hutcheson – even if Kant was German, and Hutcheson was Irish. Harrycroswell (talk) 11:04, 28 March 2014 (UTC)