Postgraduate taught 

Philosophy (Conversion) MSc

Mind and Knowledge in the Scottish Enlightenment PHIL5071

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The course will study the Hume's views on knowledge, causation, the self, free will and related topics, as expressed in his Treatise of Human Nature. The common sense philosophy of Thomas Reid, developed in response to the perceived sceptical consequences of Hume's empiricism, will be studied.


2 lectures per week for 9 weeks, plus 4 seminars. The course may not run every year. Options running this year are available on MyCampus.

Excluded Courses





Two essays, equally weighted, each with a word limit of 2500 words.

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity for students to:

■ Explore Hume's empiricism through a study of his contribution to key areas of human thought as expounded in the Treatise of Human Nature.

■ Investigate the competing theories of mind and knowledge found in the common sense philosophy of Thomas Reid.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Expound and critically assess various elements of Hume's empiricism, including his theories of ideas, the concept of causation, the nature of the self, his account of belief in the external world;

■ Expound and critically assess Hume's view that human action is causally determined;

■ Compare and contrast competing sceptical and naturalist readings of Hume's philosophy;

■ Expound and critically assess Reid's reasons for rejecting Hume's theory of ideas, and his common sense alternative to Humean empiricism;

■ Expound and critically assess Reid's libertarian account of human action;

■ Compare and contrast the respective methodologies of Hume and Reid with particular reference to their naturalist and Newtonian commitments.


Assessment for this course is at Masters Level.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.