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Thomas Reid – Social and Solitary Acts

March 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Reid’s technical term for such uses of language as promisings,warnings, forgivings, and so on, is ‘social operations’. Sometimes he also calls them ‘social acts’, opposing them to ‘solitary acts’ such as judgings, intendings, deliberatings and desirings. The latter are characterized by the fact that their performance does not presuppose any ‘intelligent being in the universe’ in addition to the person who performs them. A social act, in contrast, must be directed to some other person, and for this reason it constitutes a miniature ‘civil society’, a special kind of structured whole, embracing both the one who initiates it and the one to whom it is directed.