When philosophers talk about whether it is reasonable to believe in God, they might take the high intellectual approach of presenting one or more of the traditional arguments for God’s existence, all of which have contemporary forms. Or they might take the opposite approach made popular by some Calvinist philosophers such as Alvin Plantinga who argue that a person can be reasonable in believing something without reasons to support it, and belief in God is like that. There are many beliefs (...) for which we do not have reasons, much less arguments that demonstrate their truth, but they are nonetheless reasonable. Examples might be your belief that the people around you have feelings and thoughts, your belief that a human being is more valuable than a tree, or your belief that when you wake up in the morning you are the same person as you were the day before. The Calvinist philosophers argue that it can be reasonable to believe in God in the same way. We were designed by God to believe in other minds, the existence of a self, the dignity of human beings, and in the existence of God without argument or reasons that support those beliefs. These beliefs are reasonable because reasonable people, people who are using their faculties in the right way, have these beliefs. If some people do not believe in God it is because something has gone wrong. It is the sinfulness of humanity that makes the existence of God less obvious than the existence of the minds of the people around us. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that epistemic authority can be justified in the same way as political authority in the tradition of political liberalism. I propose principlesof epistemic authority modeled on the general principles of authority proposed by Joseph Raz. These include the Content-Independence thesis, the Pre-emption thesis, the Dependency thesis, and the Normal Justification thesis. The focus is on the authority of a person’s beliefs, although the principles can be applied to the authority of another person’s testimony and the (...) authority of epistemic communities. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that there are two kinds of epistemic reasons. One kind is irreducibly first personal -- what I call deliberative reasons. The other kind is third personal -- what I call theoretical reasons. I argue that attending to this distinction illuminates a host of problems in epistemology in general and in religious epistemology in particular. These problems include (a) the way religious experience operates as a reason for religious belief, (b) how we ought to understand religious (...) testimony, (c) how religious authority can be justified, (d) the problem of religious disagreement, and (e) the reasonableness of religious conversion. (shrink)
Abstract: In this essay I outline a radical kind of virtue theory I call exemplarism, which is foundational in structure but which is grounded in exemplars of moral goodness, direct reference to which anchors all the moral concepts in the theory. I compare several different kinds of moral theory by the way they relate the concepts of the good, a right act, and a virtue. In the theory I propose, these concepts, along with the concepts of a duty and of (...) a good life, are defined by reference to exemplars, identified directly through the emotion of admiration, not through a description. It is an advantage of the theory that what makes a good person good is not given a priori but is determined by empirical investigation. The same point applies to what good persons do and what states of affairs they aim at. The theory gives an important place to empirical investigation and narratives about exemplars analogous to the scientific investigation of natural kinds in the theory of direct reference. (shrink)
In this paper I examine the sixth century ’Rule of St. Benedict’, and argue that the authority structure of Benedictine communities as described in that document satisfies well-known principles of authority defended by Joseph Raz. This should lead us to doubt the common assumption that premodern models of authority violate the modern ideal of the autonomy of the self. I suggest that what distinguishes modern liberal authority from Benedictine authority is not the principles that justify it, but rather the first-order (...) beliefs for the sake of which authority is sought by the individual, and the degree of trust between the authority and the subject. (shrink)
The philosophical treatment of religion -- Classical arguments for theism. Teleological arguments -- Cosmological arguments -- Ontological arguments -- Other approaches to religious belief. Experience and revelation as grounds for religious belief -- Fideism -- Naturalistic re-interpretations of religious belief -- Who or what is God? -- Fate, freedom, and foreknowledge -- Religion and morality. Is religion needed for morality? -- Divine command theory and divine motivation theory -- Natural law -- The problem of evil -- Death and immortality. Is (...) death bad? -- Life after death -- The diversity of religions -- Faith, reason, and the ethics of belief. Faith and reason -- Pragmatism and the ethics of belief -- Miracles -- Science religion and naturalism. (shrink)
It is often argued that the great quantity of evil in our world makes God’s existence less likely than a lesser quantity would, and this, presumably, because the probability that some evils are gratuitous increases as the overall quantity of evil increases. Often, an additive approach to quantifying evil is employed in such arguments. In this paper, we examine C. S. Lewis’ objection to the additive approach, arguing that although he is correct to reject this approach, there is a sense (...) in which he underestimates the quantity of pain. However, the quantity of pain in that sense does not significantly increase the probability that some pain is gratuitous. Therefore, the quantitative argument likely fails. (shrink)
In this paper I distinguish three degrees of epistemic egoism, each of which has an ethical analogue, and I argue that all three are incoherent. Since epistemic autonomy is frequently identified with one of these forms of epistemic egoism, it follows that epistemic autonomy as commonly understood is incoherent. I end with a brief discussion of the idea of moral autonomy and suggest that its component of epistemic autonomy in the realm of the moral is problematic.
An accessible and engaging introduction to the philosophy of religion. Written with verve and clarity by a leading philosopher and contributor to the field Places key issues and debates in the philosophy of religion in their historical contexts, highlighting the conditions that led to the development of the field Addresses the core topics, among them the the existence of God, the problem of evil, death and the afterlife, and the problem of religious diversity Rich with argument, yet never obtrusive Forms (...) part of the Fundamentals of Philosophy series, in which renowned scholars explore the fundamental issues and core problems in the major sub-disciplines of philosophy. (shrink)
Abstract In this paper I argue that to understand the ethics of belief we need to put it in a context of what we care about. Epistemic values always arise from something we care about and they arise only from something we care about. It is caring that gives rise to the demand to be epistemically conscientious. The reason morality puts epistemic demands on us is that we care about morality. But there may be a (small) class of beliefs which (...) it is not wrong to hold unconscientiously. I also argue that epistemic values enjoy a privileged place in the panorama of what we care about because they are entailed by anything we care about. That means that when there is a conflict between caring about knowledge or true belief and caring about something else, that conflict cannot be resolved simply by following the one we care about the most because caring about knowledge in any domain is entailed by caring about that domain. Finally, I argue that whereas caring demands different degrees of conscientiousness in different contexts, contextualism about knowledge is less plausible. (shrink)
Because she is widely regarded in the field of contemporary philosophy of religion, Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski's latest book will be a major contribution to ethical theory and theological ethics. At the core of her work lies a new form of virtue theory based on the emotions. Distinct from deontological, consequentialist and teleological virtue theories, this theory has a particular theological Christian foundation.
The idea of a virtue has traditionally been important in ethics, but only recently has gained attention as an idea that can explain how we ought to form beliefs as well as how we ought to act. Moral philosophers and epistemologists have different approaches to the idea of intellectual virtue; here, Michael DePaul and Linda Zagzebski bring work from both fields together for the first time to address all of the important issues. It will be required reading for anyone working (...) on either side of the debate. (shrink)
This paper argues that an emotion is a state of affectively perceiving its intentional object as falling under a "thick affective concept" A, a concept that combines cognitive and affective aspects in a way that cannot be pulled apart. For example, in a state of pity an object is seen as pitiful, where to see something as pitiful is to be in a state that is both cognitive and affective. One way of expressing an emotion is to assert that the (...) intentional object of the emotion falls under the thick affective concept distinctive of the emotion. I argue that the most basic kind of moral judgment is is this category. It has the form "That is A" (pitiful, contemptible, rude, etc.). Such judgments combine the features of cognitivism and motivational judgment internalism, an advantage that explains why we find moral weakness problematic in spite of its ubiquity. I then outline a process I call "thinning" the judgment, which explains how moral strength, weakness, and apathy arise. I argue that this process is necessary for moral reasoning and communication, in spite of its disadvantage in disengaging the agent's motivating emotion from the judgment. (shrink)
The value of epistemic trust has been neglected, as Townsley rightly observes, but I think a virtue epistemology of the kind! endorse is well suited to provide a framework for understanding it. The Cassandra of Greek legend illustrates the complex relationships among epistemic and non-epistemic goods, as welt as the fragility of knowledge. I think her case leads us to a more radical conclusion than the one Townsley proposes.
Virtue Epistemology is a new movement receiving the bulk of recent attention from top epistemologists and ethicists; this volume reflects the best work in that vein. Included are unpublished articles by such eminent philosophers as Robert Audi, Simon Blackburn, Alvin Goldman, Christopher Hookway, Keith Lehrer, and Ernest Sosa.
Persons are thought to have a special kind of value, often called "dignity," which, according to Kant, makes them both infinitely valuable and irreplaceably valuable. The author aims to identify what makes a person a person in a way that can explain both aspects of dignity. She considers five definitions of "person": (1) an individual substance of a rational nature (Boethius), (2) a self-conscious being (Locke), (3) a being with the capacity to act for ends (Kant), (4) a being with (...) the capacity to act for another (Kant), and (5) an incommunicably unique subject (Wojtyla). She argues that none is capable of grounding both aspects of dignity since they are incompatible kinds of value; it is impossible for the same thing to ground both. Human persons are infinitely valuable in virtue of shareable qualities of their nature, whereas they are irreplaceably valuable because of a nonqualitative feature of their personhood. (shrink)
In Virtues of the Mind I object to process reliabilism on the grounds that it does not explain the good of knowledge in addition to the good of true belief. In this paper I wish to develop this objection in more detail, and will then argue that this problem pushes us first in the direction of two offspring of process reliabilism—faculty reliabilism and proper functionalism, and, finally, to a true virtue epistemology.
In this paper I give a theological foundation to a radical type of virtue ethics I call motivation-based. In motivation-based virtue theory all moral concepts are derivative from the concept of a good motive, the most basic component of a virtue, where what I mean by a motive is an emotion that initiates and directs action towards an end. Here I give a foundation to motivation-based virtue theory by making the motivations of one person in particular the ultimate foundation of (...) all moral value, and that person is God. The theory is structurally parallel to Divine Command Theory, but has a number of advantages over DC theory without the well-known problems. In particular, DM theory does not face a dilemma parallel to the famous Euthyphro problem, nor does it have any difficulty answering the question whether God could make cruelty morally right. Unlike DC theory, it explains the importance of Christology in Christian ethics, and it has the advantage of providing a unitary account of all evaluative properties, divine and human. I call the theory Divine Motivation Theory. (shrink)