The issue of free will and determinism is one of the oldest controversies in philosophy. During the second half of the 18th century, the two dominant advocates of determinism - or necessitarianism as it was then called - were David Hume and Joseph Priestley. Defenders of free will - then called liberty - typically targeted Hume or Priestley, attempting to show the absurdity of their views. The Edinburgh physician James Gregory (1753-1821) was an original and forceful thinker and a champion of libertarianism. He published his two-volume "Philosophical and Literary Essays" (1792) in which he specifically attacks Hume's conception of necessity, approaching the issue as a scientist as well as a philosopher. Throughout his career Gregory sparked by insulting his opponents, which he does here by accusing Hume of mala fide, or bad faith. Gregory's work attracted much attention, both because of his original arguments and because of his accusation of mala fide.
A year after Greogory's book appeared, a young teacher and original philosopher named Alexander Crombie (1762-1840) attacked Gregory in "An Essay on Philosophical Necessity" (1793), a work which even now is among the most articulate defences of the necessitarian doctrine. Gregory read Crombie's critique, but was not impressed. Over the next 20 years the two exchanged heated letters, each threatening to go to the press with a rebuttal of the other. In 1819 Crombie collected their correspondences together and published them under the title "Letters from Dr. James Gregory...with replies, by Alexander Crombie". James Fieser, editor of the Hume Archives and "Early Responses to Hume" has written an introduction placing these texts in their historical and philosophical context, and this first appearance of these scarce and valuable texts from two striking thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment should be of interest to Scottish Enlightenment scholars.
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC ISBN: 9781855068797 Weight: 2449 g Dimensions: 216 x 138 x 140 mm Edition: Facsimile edition
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