Thomas Reid, in 1763, wrote, “For before men can reason together, they must agree in first principles; and it is impossible to reason with a man who has no principles…”
“For before men can reason together, they must agree in first principles; and it is impossible to reason with a man who has no principles in common with you.” Thomas Reid wrote, “There are, therefore, common principles, which are the foundation of all reasoning, and of all science. Such common principles seldom admit of direct proof, nor do they need it. Men need not to be taught them; for they are such as all men of common understanding know; or such, at least, as they give a ready assent to, as soon as they are proposed and understood. Such principles, when we have occasion to use them in science, are called axioms.”
I realize I am straying into UD “Self-Evident Truths” territory here, but is that really such a bad thing? Isn’t the insistence on such truths a recognition that it is indeed the case that it is impossible to reason with a man who has no first principles in common with you?
This OP is offered as an acknowledgment that we all have priors and that “parking them at the door” doesn’t mean that people are expected to proceed as if they have none, and also as an appeal to be more willing to examine those priors, where they come from, and what their influences are. But to do so don’t we need to hold certain principles in common? Is it even possible for us to agree on what those principle are and why we all hold them or at least ought to hold them? How far does skepticism go before it becomes solipsism?
Also as an opportunity to discuss Thomas Reid. I keep hearing about this guy and have never read him. He apparently didn’t think highly of Hume’s philosophy. So sort of a self-prodding to investigate further.