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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

Chapter:
(p.92) III Reworking Reasonableness
Source:
Liberating Judgment
Author(s):

Douglas John Casson

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691144740.003.0004

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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