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Thomas Reid - Essays on the Active Powers of Man

Thomas Reid
Edited by Knud Haakonssen, James A. Harris

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Reid's last major work, The Active Powers shows how principles of Common Sense are involved in volition, action and the ability to judge morally. Reid gives an original twist to a libertarian and realist tradition that was prominently represented in eighteenth-century British thought by such thinkers as Samuel Clarke and Richard Price.


Editors' Introduction
Note on the text
Mode of reference
Thomas Reid: Essays on the Active Powers of Man: Contents: Introduction
Essay I Of Active Power in General
Essay II Of the Will
Essay III Of the Principles of Action
Essay IV Of the Liberty of Moral Agents
Essay V Of Morals
Index of Names
General Index.

About the Author

Knud Haakonssen is Professor of Intellectual History at the University of St Andrews and a Long-term Fellow at the Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies, University of Erfurt. His books include The Science of a Legislator (Cambridge University Press, 1981), Natural Law and Moral Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 1996), and editions of Hume, Hutcheson, Reid and Smith. He is General Editor of the Edinburgh Edition of Thomas Reid.

James A. Harris Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of St Andrews.


This, the seventh volume in the Edinburgh Edition of Thomas Reid, is a long awaited and very welcome addition … The extensive manuscript material (preserved in the Library of Aberdeen University and now available on line) has proved to be of special value in enabling the editors (and thus readers) to identify the philosophers with whom Reid saw himself to be engaged … Taken together, the text and footnotes will make this the definitive edition of the Active Powers for many years to come.

- Journal of Scottish Philosophy

For anyone interested in Reid’s moral psychology and ethics, the new edition of his Essays on the Active Powers of Man is a welcome addition to the Edinburgh Collection ... The Haakonssen and Harris edition is the first new edition of the Active Powers since 1846 (when Hamilton published his first edition of The Works of Thomas Reid) and is, in its presentation and content, of great importance and use to anyone interested in meta-ethics in general, in Reid’s moral philosophy, or in Reid’s responses to Hume and Priestley.

- Esther Kroeker, University of Antwerp, Hume Studies

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