I’ve been asked to give a talk this spring to the Hume Society at the Pacific APA on Hume’s early critics. Given my area of expertise, I’ll be talking about Reid. But I don’t want to just go through the litany of criticisms that Reid launches against Hume. Reid’s criticisms of Hume are very misleading. First, he often uses Hume as a name for a wider set of philosophical views and methods to which Reid is opposed, and of which Hume is probably not guilty. Second, his critical project is so brief and sketchy because he is not interested in criticizing the consequences of what he calls the ‘theory of ideas.’ The consequences of that broad philosophical project are unacceptable, Reid thinks, but he is more interested in replacing the assumptions and methods that lead to those consequences. And what he replaces it with is an alternative to which Humeans broadly construed, should be friendly. It is, after all, intended as a naturalist, empiricist science of man.
So I’d like to think about this differently. My sense is that Hume folks who know something about Reid really, really do not like him. Now, on the one hand, Reid can be both sloppy and snide in his remarks about Hume. On the other hand, these are not philosophically interesting. So what I am wondering is this: what is it about Reid (other than his rudeness) that Humeans don’t like? I’m asking this because I’d like to address those antipathies in the hopes of bringing these two figures into closer conversation among historians of philosophy and among contemporary folks who take themselves to be philosophical descendants of Hume. Any ideas?