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Liberating JudgmentFanatics, Skeptics, and John Locke's Politics of Probability$
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Douglas John Casson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691144740

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691144740.001.0001

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Reworking Reasonableness

Reworking Reasonableness

The Authoritative Testimony of Nature

(p.92) III Reworking Reasonableness
Liberating Judgment

Douglas John Casson

Princeton University Press

This chapter demonstrates how Locke's gradual move away from his early political positions parallels his encounter with a new notion of reasonableness based on probable judgment. This shift took place as Locke became involved with a group of researchers surrounding Robert Boyle who were adopting a “new probability” linked to the evidential testimony of natural signs or nondemonstrable facts. Although their vocabulary grew from medieval notions of probability, these experimentalists unwittingly secularized practical rationality in a way that transformed scientific, religious, and political justification. This shift hinged on an assumption that evidence presented to the senses can be seen as a natural deliverance emanating from an ultimately inaccessible, yet divinely ordained structure of order.

Keywords:   John Locke, probable judgment, Robert Boyle, new probability, natural signs, practical rationality, reasonableness

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