Perceptual Disanalogy: On the Alstonian Analogy Argument from Religious Experience

Analogy arguments from religious experience attempt to establish a direct analogy between sense perception and certain kinds of religious experience construed in terms of a perceptual model. C. B. Martin challenges traditional analogy arguments from religious experience by contending that there is a disanalogy between both kinds of experience due to the fact that there is a society of testing and checkup procedures available to sense perception that is not available to religious experience. William P. Alston presents his own analogy argument from religious experience in Perceiving God. Alston establishes an analogy between sense perception and religious experience by arguing that certain kinds of religious experience can be construed in terms of a perceptual model. In doing so, Alston maintains that sense perception and certain kinds of religious experience that count as perception?mystical perception?produce justified beliefs in very similar ways. Thus, Alston defuses Martin's objection by arguing that both kinds of perception have testing and checkup procedures available to them, procedures which are necessary to defeat the prima facie justification of perceptual beliefs. However, I argue that because there are apparently inconsistent core beliefs in the practice of forming beliefs on the basis of Christian mystical perception, the analogy between sense perception and mystical perception is threatened. In order for Alston's analogy argument to be successful, he must address this problem.
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Tamar Szabó Gendler (2006). Introduction: Perceptual Experience. In John Hawthorne & Tamar Szabó Gendler (eds.), Perceptual Experience. Oxford University Press 1--30.
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