Phenomenal conservatism holds, roughly, that if it seems to S that P, then S has evidence for P. I argue for two main conclusions. The first is that phenomenal conservatism is better suited than is proper functionalism to explain how a particular type of religious belief formation can lead to non-inferentially justified religious beliefs. The second is that phenomenal conservatism makes evidence so easy to obtain that the truth of evidentialism would not be a significant obstacle to justified (...)religious belief. A natural objection to phenomenal conservatism is that it makes evidence too easy to obtain, but I argue this objection is mistaken. (shrink)
Yong Huang has recently claimed that after the demise of foundationalism, philosophy and theology can turn to Ludwig Wittgenstein's non-foundationalist or coherentist religiousepistemology where, it is said, religious beliefs are justified by a 'reflective equilibrium' with other kinds of beliefs, with action, and with different 'forms of life'. I argue that there are very good reasons to reject this reading of Wittgenstein: not only unsupported, it is seriously mistaken. Once the epistemological terms of the debate are (...) properly understood, the evidence indicates that Wittgenstein's view of religious beliefs is a form of foundationalism, not coherentism. (shrink)
Three questions motivate this book's account of evidence for the existence of God. First, if God's existence is hidden, why suppose He exists at all? Second, if God exists, why is He hidden, particularly if God seeks to communicate with people? Third, what are the implications of divine hiddenness for philosophy, theology, and religion's supposed knowledge of God? This book answers these questions on the basis of a new account of evidence and knowledge of divine reality that challenges skepticism about (...) God's existence. The central thesis is that we should expect evidence of divine reality to be purposively available to humans, that is, available only in a manner suitable to divine purposes in self-revelation. This lesson generates a seismic shift in our understanding of evidence and knowledge of divine reality. The result is a needed reorienting of religiousepistemology to accommodate the character and purposes of an authoritative, perfectly loving God. (shrink)
The project of “religiousepistemology,” as it has developed and thrived among certain analytic philosophers over the last thirty years, has seldom exhibited a strong historical sensibility. Nonetheless, contemporary discussions of the rationality of religious belief obviously have important antecedents in the history of modern philosophy, particularly in the history of the Enlightenment project that so strongly challenged traditional religious belief. This paper develops two themes from this history that I will try to show are particularly (...) important for understanding contemporary issues about the rationality of religious belief: the affirmation of ordinary life, and the question of radical evil in human nature. (shrink)
James Beilby’s Epistemology as Theology is the first monograph to address Alvin Plantinga’s completed Warrant Trilogy. The book provides a thorough introduction to Plantinga’s current religiousepistemology, but readers hoping for a critical treatment of Plantinga will be largely disappointed: while Beilby does level criticisms against Plantinga, he often underestimates their significance. One of Beilby’s main goals is to sketch out how a version of Reformed epistemology, even if not exactly Plantinga’s version, can withstand its critics. (...) I provide a chapter-by-chapter examination of Beilby’s book, and argue his defense of Reformed epistemology is not obviously a significant improvement over Plantinga’s. (shrink)
This unique textbook--the first to offer balanced, comprehensive coverage of all major perspectives on the rational justification of religious belief--includes twenty-four key papers by some of the world's leading philosophers of religion. Arranged in six sections, each representing a major approach to religiousepistemology, the book begins with papers by noted atheists, setting the stage for the main theistic responses--Wittgensteinian Fideism, Reformed epistemology, natural theology, prudential accounts of religious beliefs, and rational belief based in (...) class='Hi'>religious experience--in each case offering a representative sample of papers by leading exponents, a critical paper, and a substantial bibliography. A comprehensive introductory essay and ample cross-references help students to contrast and evaluate the different approaches, while the overall arrangement encourages them to assess the full range of philosophical positions on the issue. Carefully selected to provide both a comprehensive overview of current work and a series of modern perspectives on many classic sources--Swinburne's detailed discussion of Hume's critique of the design argument, for example, as well as an entire section evaluating and extending Pascal's famous Wager--the essays also provide a uniquely readable survey that will be useful in a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses in philosophy of religion and epistemology. (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 religiousepistemology 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)
This paper explores the main contours of recent work in English-speaking philosophy of religion on the justification of religious belief. It sets out the main characteristics of the religious epistemologies of such writers as Alston, Plantinga, and Swinburne. It poses and seeks to answer the question of how far any or all of these epistemologies are indebted or similar to the epistemology of the Scottish Enlightenment thinker Thomas Reid. It concludes that while there are some links to (...) Reid in recent writing, contemporary approaches depart from Reid’s views on the specific topic of the justification of religious belief. (shrink)
Berkeley's main aim in his well-known early works was to identify and refute "the grounds of Scepticism, Atheism, and irreligion." This appears to place Berkeley within a well-established tradition of religious critics of Locke's epistemology, including, most famously, Stillingfleet. I argue that these appearances are deceiving. Berkeley is, in fact, in important respects an opponent of this tradition. According to Berkeley, Locke's earlier critics, including Stillingfleet, had misidentified the grounds of irreligion in Locke's philosophy while all the while (...) endorsing the true grounds of irreligion themselves. Locke's epistemology is innocent; matter and abstraction are to blame. (shrink)
Like David Silver before them, Erik Baldwin and Michael Thune argue that the facts of religious pluralism present an insurmountable challenge to the rationality of basic exclusive religious belief as construed by Reformed Epistemology. I will show that their argument is unsuccessful. First, their claim that the facts of religious pluralism make it necessary for the religious exclusivist to support his exclusive beliefs with significant reasons is one that the reformed epistemologist has the resources to (...) reject. Secondly, they fail to demonstrate that it is impossible for basic exclusive religious beliefs to return to their properly basic state after defeaters against them have been defeated. Finally, I consider whether there is perhaps a similar but better argument in the neighbourhood and conclude in the negative. Reformed Epistemology’s defence of exclusivism thus remains undefeated. (shrink)
In this paper I examine William Alston's work on the epistemology of religious belief, focusing on the threat to the epistemic status of Christian belief presented by awareness of religious diversity. I argue that Alston appears to misunderstand the epistemic significance of the ‘practical rationality’ of the Christian mystical practice. I suggest that this error is due to a more fundamental misunderstanding, regarding the significance of practical rationality, in Alston's ‘doxastic practice’ approach to epistemology; an error (...) that leads to arbitrariness among the class of rational doxastic practices. I suggest how one might remedy this weakness, with an additional, epistemic, criterion that rational doxastic practices must satisfy. (shrink)
In what follows, I discuss the extent to which the epistemology of religious belief differs from the epistemology of other areas of our belief, as well as the extent to which it is similar. There will be important similarities: for example, the standards for the application of terms of epistemic assessment like ‘justified’, ‘warranted’,and ‘rational’. But in this essay, I concentrate on delineating some important differences between religious and non-religiousepistemology.
Consider two people who disagree about some important claim (e.g. the future moral and political consequences of current U.S. economic policy are X). They each believe the other person is in possession of relevant evidence, is roughly equally competent to evaluate that evidence, etc. From the epistemic point of view, how should such recognized disagreement affect their doxastic attitude toward the original claim? Recent research on the epistemology of disagreement has converged upon three general ways of answering this question. (...) The focus of this article is twofold: first, we summarize and give a brief evaluation of the main accounts of the epistemic significance of disagreement; then, we look at what these accounts suggest about how to epistemically assess both inter-religious and intra-religious disagreements. A final section offers recommendations for further research. (shrink)
Religious diversity is a key topic in contemporary philosophy of religion. One way religious diversity has been of interest to philosophers is in the epistemological questions it gives rise to. In other words, religious diversity has been seen to pose a challenge for religious belief. In this study four approaches to dealing with this challenge are discussed. These approaches correspond to four well-known philosophers of religion, namely, Richard Swinburne, Alvin Plantinga, William Alston, and John Hick. The (...) study is concluded by suggesting four factors which shape one’s response to the challenge religious diversity poses to religious belief. (shrink)
The purpose of this discussion is to analyze comparatively the influential argument for religious pluralism offered by John Hick and the argument for religious exclusivism (sectarianism) which can be generated by proponents of what has come to be labeled ‘Reformed Epistemology.’ I argue that while Hick and the Reformed exclusivist appear to be giving us incompatible responses to the same question about the true nature of ‘religious’ reality, they are actually responding to related, but distinct questions, (...) each of which must be considered by those desiring to give a religious explanation for the phenomenon of religious diversity. Moreover, I conclude that the insights of neither ought to be emphasized at the expense of the other. (shrink)
Jürgen Habermas's recent challenge to secular citizens calling for greater inclusivity of religious justifications in the public sphere opens new epistemological debates that could benefit from the rich insights of feminist epistemologists. Despite certain theoretical tensions, there is some common ground between Habermas and recent work in feminist epistemology. Specifically, this article explores the shared interests between Habermas and one feminist theorist in particular, Miranda Fricker. I choose Fricker because her formulation of the epistemological and ethical hybrid virtues (...) of testimonial justice and hermeneutical justice provide efficacious theoretical and practical tools capable of deepening the epistemological basis of Habermas's challenge to secular citizens. After a detailed analysis of Habermas's and Fricker's respective epistemological positions, I argue that Fricker's analysis provides a rich framework for thinking through questions of power, identity, and credibility with respect to religious justifications in the public sphere. In conclusion, this article emphasizes the importance of fostering more robust and just epistemic communities capable of countering the social, political, and ethical injustices of epistemic disauthorization and marginalization. (shrink)
Philosophers of religion propose an assortment of epistemic preferences with reference to the extent and limits of knowledge of God, ranging from moderate fideism to robust rationalism. In the past two decades, a seismic shift has occurred away from more classical strategies to movements that reflect the current Zeitgeist (e.g. postmodernism and pseudo-modernism). In my paper, I will argue for rational confidence and epistemic modesty in an attempt to find some balance between faith and reason.
The path of religious pluralism starts with the fact that our world contains a number of religious faiths having different ideas of the nature of divinity as the main and fundamental principle of religions and therefore, different and various dogmas, rites, and rituals.Despite the claim that the idea of religious pluralism is a product of modern philosophical schools, specifically new epistemological principles, I have attempted to demonstrate that what I have called "pluralistic religion," as a part of (...) a necessary and substantial distinction that has to be drawn between this hypothesis and John Hick's classic theory of "religious pluralism," is strongly rooted in the principle of "ultimate truth and uniqueness of .. (shrink)
Some philosophers believe that, when epistemic peers disagree, each has an obligation to accord the other’s assessment equal weight as her own. Other philosophers worry that this Equal-Weight View is vulnerable to straightforward counterexamples, and that it requires an unacceptable degree of spinelessness with respect to our most treasured philosophical, political, and religious beliefs. I think that both of these allegations are false. To show this, I carefully state the Equal-Weight View, motivate it, describe apparent counterexamples to it, and (...) then explain away the apparent counterexamples. Finally, I adapt those explanations to cases of religious disagreement. In the end, we reach the surprising conclusion that—even if the Equal-Weight View is true—in very many cases of religious disagreement between apparent epistemic peers, the parties to the disagreement need not be conciliatory. And what goes for religious beliefs goes for political and philosophical beliefs as well. This strongly suggests that the View does not demand an unacceptable degree of spinelessness. (shrink)
In this post-9/11 era marked by religious and ethnic conflicts and the rise of cultural intolerance, ambiguities arising from the conflation of multiculturalism, sexism, and religious fundamentalism jeopardize the delivery of culturally safe nursing care to non-Western populations. This new social reality requires nurses to develop a heightened awareness of health issues pertaining to racism and ethnocentrism to provide culturally safe care to non-Western immigrants or refugees. Through the lens of post-colonial feminism, this paper explores the challenge of (...) providing culturally safe nursing care in the context of the post-9/11 in Canadian healthcare settings. A critical appraisal of the literature demonstrates that post-colonial feminism, despite some limitations, remains a valuable theoretical perspective to apply in cultural nursing research and develop culturally safe nursing practice. Post-colonial feminism offers the analytical lens to understand how health, social and cultural context, race and gender intersect to impact on non-Western populations' health. However, an uncritical application of post-colonial feminism may not serve racialized men's and women's interests because of its essentialist risk. Post-colonial feminism must expand its epistemological assumptions to integrate Taylor's concept of identity and recognition and Bakhtin's concepts of dialogism and unfinalizability to explore non-Western populations' health issues and the context of nursing practice. This would strengthen the theoretical adequacy of post-colonial feminist approaches in unveiling the process of racialization that arises from the conflation of multiculturalism, sexism, and religious fundamentalism in Western healthcare settings. (shrink)
Poe's Law is roughly that online parodies of religious extremism are indistinguishable from instances of sincere extremism. Poe's Law may be expressed in a variety of ways, each highlighting either a facet of indirect discourse generally, attitudes of online audiences, or the quality of online religious material. As a consequence of the polarization of online discussions, invocations of Poe's Law have relevance in wider circles than religion. Further, regular invocations of Poe's Law in critical discussions have the threat (...) of further entrenching and polarizing views. (shrink)
This book addresses a fundamental question in the philosophy of religion. Can religious experience provide evidence for religious belief? If so, how? Keith Yandell argues against the notion that religious experience is ineffable, while advocating the view that strong numinous experience provides some evidence that God exists. An attractive feature of the book is that it does not confine its attention to any one religious cultural tradition, but tracks the nature of religious experience across different (...) traditions in both the East and the West. (shrink)
Anne Warfield Rawls argues that, although Durkheim's The Elementary Forms of Religion is the crowning achievement of his sociological accomplishments, it has been consistently misunderstood. Rather than a work on primitive religion or the sociology of knowledge, Rawls asserts that Durkheim's analysis represents an attempt to establish a unique epistemological basis for the study of sociology and moral relations. Based on detailed analysis of the primary text, this book will be an important and original contribution to contemporary debates on social (...) theory and philosophy. (shrink)
Abstract Boyle distinguished clearly between the areas which we would call scientific and theological. However, he felt that they overlapped seamlessly, and that the truths we discovered (or which were revealed to us) in one of these areas would be relevant to us in the other. In this paper I outline and discuss Boyle's views on the limitations of human knowing, Boyle's arguments in favour of accepting the revelations of the Christian faith, and his views on the kind of epistomological (...) standing that scientific knowledge claims have. Given this background I then consider the relation between hypotheses, theories and facts in Boyle's work, and consider a particular case, that of Boyle's Law, as an exemplification of the claims made in the rest of the paper. (shrink)
This is a book primarily for students on the problem of gratuitous evil. It assumes no philosophical background but examines the problem thoroughly. It introduces the problem, presents the five main theistic responses to the problem, offers evaluations of those responses, and makes some tentative conclusions.
I agree with about 95% of what Paul Moser has written in his book The Elusive God. However, I have three main points of disagreement with Moser, two of which I ventilate in this paper. The third I discuss in my paper "What's Love Got to Do with It?" also on this website.
A critique of responses to the problem posed to Christian philosophy by the fact of religious plurality by Alvin Plantinga, Peter van lnwagen, and George Mavrodes in the recent Festschrift dedicated to William Alston, and of Alston’s own response to the challenge of religious diversity to his epistemology of religion. His argument that religious experience is a generally reliable basis for belief-formation is by implication transformed by his response to this problem into the principle that Christianity (...) constitutes the sole exception to the general rule that religious experience is an unreliable basis for belief-formation, thus undermining his central thesis. Plantinga’s and van Inwagen’s defenses of the logical and moral permissability of Christian exclusivism fail to address the problem posed by the existence of other equally well-based religious belief-systems with equally valuable fruits in human life. Mavrodes’ discussion of polytheism, and his clarifying questions about religious pluralism, are also discussed. (shrink)
Religious beliefs in miraculous healing through prayer remain prevalent in modern society. Most such beliefs do not conflict with medical advice but some do. Conventional views have considered these beliefs incompatible with rational modern thought, predicting their demise and explaining their persistence in terms of non-rational thinking, "special logics" and psychological compartmentalization. However, attention to the actual beliefs of individuals often reveals them to be rationally ordered and empirically founded. Further, they do not usually involve disbelief of medical knowledge. (...) Their differences from each other and from orthodox medical ideas arise from differing assumptions, the crediting of subjective experience, and the particular experiences of believers. Keywords: belief, epistemology, healing, miracle, prayer, religion CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
The best judge of the soundness of a philosophical argument is the philosopher with the greatest philosophical aptitude, the deepest knowledge of the relevant subject matter, the most scrupulous character, and a disinterested position with respect to the subject matter. This last feature is important because even a highly intelligent and scrupulous judge may find it hard to reach the right conclusion about a subject in which he or she has a vested interest. When the subject of inquiry is the (...) soundness of theistic arguments, the best judge will be the most intelligent and scrupulous philosopher who is also disinterested in the soundness of the theistic argument under consideration. I argue that, in this case, the disinterestedness requirement is best satisfied by the theist whose belief in God is “properly basic”, and in the course of defending this argument I uncover a little-recognized desideratum for theistic arguments. (shrink)
Today we find philosophical naturalists and Christian theists both expressing an interest in virtue epistemology, while starting out from vastly different assumptions. What can be done to increase fruitful dialogue among these divergent groups of virtue-theoretic thinkers? The primary aim of this paper is to uncover more substantial common ground for dialogue by wielding a double-edged critique of certain assumptions shared by `scientific' and `theistic' externalisms, assumptions that undermine proper attention to epistemic agency and responsibility. I employ a responsibilist (...) virtue epistemology to this end, utilizing it most extensively in critique of Alvin Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief (2000). Epistemological externalism presages, I also argue, a new demarcation problem, but a secondary aim of the paper is to suggest reasons to think that `responsibilist externalism,' especially as glossed in virtue-theoretic terms, provides its proponents with the ability to adequately address this problem as we find it represented in a potent thought-experiment developed by Barry Stroud. (shrink)
In this essay I try to motivate and formulate the main epistemological questions to ask about the phenomenon of religious disagreement. I will not spend much time going over proposed answers to those questions. I address the relevance of the recent literature on the epistemology of disagreement. I start with some fiction and then, hopefully, proceed with something that has at least a passing acquaintance with truth.
This book is a major contribution to a growing literature in character-based or responsibilist epistemology. One point I criticize is the author's claim that intellectual virtues must be “indexed to world views” (318) which is line-drawing maneuver that would remove religious beliefs deemed basic in a given tradition from rational criticism. Still, the overall effect of the authors’ regulative epistemology is nevertheless to put religious believers and secularists, and again Christian and non-Christian faith traditions, on a (...) far better path towards mutual understanding and respect. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Perhaps the most influential proposal in the recent literature on the epis- temology of religious belief has been Alvin Plantinga’s anti-evidentialist contention that we should treat certain religious beliefs as properly basic. In order to support this anti-skeptical maneuver, Plantinga (along with other “reformed” epistemologists such as William Alston) has looked to the kind of anti-evidentialist model that is standardly offered as regards the epistemology of perceptual belief and has claimed that there are sufficient analogies between (...) perceptual experience and religious experience to moti- vate the use of such a model in religiousepistemology. It is argued here, however, that while Plantinga et al. are right to draw our attention to these analogies, in doing so they have failed to pay due attention to important disanalogies that exist between religious and perceptual experience. Moreover, I contend that these disanalogies have epistemo- logical ramifications that require subtle modifications to the reformed epistemology thesis. In particular, following a suggestion made by Keith DeRose, I argue that re- formed epistemology would be better modelled along explicitly virtue-theoretic lines. (shrink)
In 'Religious Pluralism and the Divine: Another Look at John Hick's Neo-Kantian Proposal' ("Religious Studies", xxx, 1994) Paul Eddy argues against the ultimate ineffability of the Real, and claims that a neo-Kantian epistemology leads to a Feuerbachian non-realism. In response I stress (a) the impossibility of attributing to the Real the range of incompatible characteristics of its phenomenal (i.e. experienceable) manifestations, so that it must lie beyond the range of our human religious categories, and (...) (b) the distinction, which Eddy fails to observe, between grounds for believing in the Divine, and reasons for thinking that the Divine can be differently conceived and experienced. (shrink)
I have argued previously (in this journal) that the reality of pervasive religious pluralism obligates a believer to attempt to establish her perspective as the correct one. In a recent response, Jerome Gellman maintains that the believer who affirms a ‘religiousepistemology’ is under no such obligation in that she need not subject her religious beliefs to any ‘rule of rationality’. In this paper I contend that there do exist some rules of rationality (some epistemic obligations) (...) that must be acknowledged-and satisfied-within all epistemic systems (including all religious epistemic systems) and that for this reason Gellman’s critique of my position fails. (shrink)
Intelligent design creationism (ID) is a religious belief requiring a supernatural creator’s interventions in the natural order. ID thus brings with it, as does supernatural theism by its nature, intractable epistemological difficulties. Despite these difficulties and despite ID’s defeat in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2005), ID creationists’ continuing efforts to promote the teaching of ID in public school science classrooms threaten both science education and the separation of church and state guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. I examine (...) the ID movement’s failure to provide either a methodology or a functional epistemology to support their supernaturalism, a deficiency that consequently leaves them without epistemic support for their creationist claims. My examination focuses primarily on ID supporter Francis Beckwith, whose published defenses of teaching ID, as well as his other relevant publications concerning education, law, and public policy, have been largely exempt from critical scrutiny. Beckwith’s work exhibits the epistemological deficiencies of the supernaturally grounded views of his ID associates and of supernaturalists in general. I preface my examination of Beckwith’s arguments with (1) philosopher of science Susan Haack’s clarification of the established naturalistic methodology and epistemology of science and (2) discussions of the views of Beckwith’s ID associates Phillip Johnson and William Dembski. Finally, I critique the religious exclusionism that Beckwith shares with his ID associates and the implications of his exclusionism for public policy. (shrink)
This paper contributes to an increasing literature strengthening the connection between epistemic logic and epistemology (Van Benthem, Hendricks). I give a survey of the most important applications of epistemic logic in epistemology. I show how it is used in the history of philosophy (Steiner's reconstruction of Descartes' sceptical argument), in solutions to Moore's paradox (Hintikka), in discussions about the relation between knowledge and belief (Lenzen) and in an alleged refutation of verificationism (Fitch) and I examine an early argument (...) about the (im)possibility of epistemic logic (Hocutt). Subsequently, I deal with interpretive questions about epistemic logic that, although implicitly, already appeared in the first section. I contend that a conception of epistemic logic as a theory of knowledge assertions is incoherent, and I argue that it does not make sense to adopt a normative interpretation of epistemic logic. Finally, I show ways to extend epistemic logic with other branches of philosophical logic so as to make it useful for some epistemological questions. Conditional logics and logics of public announcement are used to understand causal theories of knowledge and versions of reliabilism. Temporal logic helps understand some dynamic aspects of knowledge as well as the verificationist thesis. (shrink)
This study reviews some of the principal themes in contemporary work on religious language. Unlike other recent surveys, the most pressing issues about religious language are addressed from the perspective of the philosophy of language; different positions taken on these issues by philosophers of religion and theologians are considered. Topics that are covered include: the subject matter of religious discourse, reductionism and subjectivism, expressivism, the nature of religious metaphor, religious fictionalism and truth in religious (...) discourse. The study also looks at the relationship between questions about religious language and cognate areas of philosophy of religion such as epistemology and metaphysics, and potential future directions of research. (shrink)
This paper uses developments in externalist epistemology and philosophy of mind as a foundation for a tolerance-producing attitude of epistemic humility towards the beliefs one retains in light of religious diversity. The first section of this paper describes the conditions under which epistemic humility tends to occur in both the philosophy of mind and externalist epistemology due to what shall be called the resolution problem, and the second section argues that these conditions often obtain in the presence (...) of religious diversity. A third section argues that epistemic humility tends to lead to religious tolerance. (shrink)
In this article, I argue that Wang Yangming'sNeo-Confucian religious beliefs can bewarranted, and that the rationality of hisreligious beliefs constitutes a significantdefeater for the rationality of Christianbelief on Alvin Plantinga's theory of warrant. I also question whether the notion of warrantas proper function can adequately account fortheories of religious knowledge in which theaffections play an integral role. Idemonstrate how a consideration of Wang'sepistemology reveals a difficulty forPlantinga's defense of the rationality ofChristian belief and highlights a limitation ofPlantinga's current (...) conception of warrant asproper function. (shrink)
Religious pluralis does have, as James Kraft says, a negative impact on the epistemic confidence with which one holds a religious position, when epistemology is thought on both the externalist and internalist lines. I also conclude both that there is a resulting epistemic humility and that a tolerance of religious diversity results from it, but I reach these conclusions for entirely different reasons. Epistemic humility and religious tolerance are fostered by the realization that many religions (...) are striving for the infinite, though all have limited views of it. (shrink)
An adequate account of testimonial knowledge in general explains how religious knowledge can be grounded in testimony, and even in the context of conflicting testimonial traditions. Three emerging trends in epistemology help to make that case. The first is to make a distinction between two projects of epistemology: “the project of explanation” and “the project of vindication.” The second is to emphasize a distinction between knowledge and understanding. The third is to ask what role the concept of (...) knowledge plays in our conceptual-linguistic economy. Each of these trends, it is argued, helps us to make progress in the epistemology of testimony, and by application in the epistemology of religious belief. (shrink)
Do you have to be one to know one? Madhvàcàrya, the founder of the thirteenth century school of Vedànta, answered this question with a resounding 'yes!' Madhvàcàrya's insistence that one must be a Màdhva to study Màdhva Vedànta led him to employ various strategies to exclude outsiders and unauthorized readers from accessing the root texts of his tradition and from obtaining oral commentary from living virtuosos. Deepak Sarma explores the degree to which outsiders can understand and interpret the doctrine (...) of the Màdhva school of Vedànta. The school is based on insider epistemology which is so restrictive that few can learn its intricate doctrines. This book reveals the complexity of studying traditions based on insider epistemologies and encourages its audience to ponder both the value and the hazards of granting any outsider the authority and opportunity to derive important insights into a tradition as an insider. The first analysis of the Màdhva tradition, this work contributes to the ongoing controversies regarding epistemic authority and voice in religious studies. (shrink)
The 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis sponsored both an International Congress of Arts and Sciences aimed at unity of knowledge and an anthropology exhibit of diverse peoples. Jointly these represented a quest for unifying knowledge in a diverse world that was fractured by isolated specializations and segregated peoples. In historical perspective, the Congress's quest for knowledge is overshadowed by Ota Benga who was part of the anthropology exhibit. The 1904 World's Fair can be viewed as a Euro-American ritual, a (...) global pilgrimage, which sought to celebrate the advances and resolve the challenges of modernity and human diversity. Three years later Afropentecostalism dealt with these same issues with different methods and rituals. This ritual system became the most culturally diverse and fastest growing religious movement of the twentieth century. I suggest that the anthropological method of Frank Hamilton Cushing, the postcritical epistemology of Michael Polanyi, and the Afropente-costal ritual movement initiated by William J. Seymour are all attempts to develop a postmodernepistemology that is simultaneously constructive, focused on discerning reality, and broad enough to allow for human consciousness and diverse human communities. I explore this confluence of scientific and participatory epistemology through six theses. (shrink)
HUME’S CLAIMS REGARDING THE QUERY "IS IT EVER REASONABLE TO BELIEVE THAT A MIRACLE HAS OCCURRED?" ARE FASCINATINGLY COMPLEX. THIS ESSAY ATTEMPTS TO TAKE ACCOUNT OF THE VARIETY OF CLAIMS HE OFFERS, STATING EACH ARGUMENT AND THEN APPRAISING ITS SUCCESS. SINCE WHAT HUME SAYS HAS INTERESTING ANALOGIES AND APPLICATIONS TO CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE AND THE EPISTEMOLOGY OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF, THESE ARE ALSO DISCUSSED.
David Basinger has defended his position on the epistemology of religious diversity against a critique I wrote of it in this journal. Basinger endorses the principle that in the face of pervasive epistemic peer conflict a person has a prima facie duty to try to adjudicate the conflict. He defends this position against my claim that religious belief can be non-culpably “rock bottom” and thus escape “Basinger’s Rule.” Here I show why Basinger’s defense against my critique is (...) not satisfactory, and I argue against accepting Basinger’s Rule. (shrink)
Despite Marx’s claim that criticism against his views from a religious standpoint are not deserving of serious examination, I try to offer a critical examination of Marx’s epistemology of religion from the viewpoint of Reformed epistemology. Although Marx himself never set forth a systematic epistemology, let alone an epistemology of religion, his writings nonetheless provide an adequate resource to reconstruct his views on the matter. Given this, I set out what I take to be characteristic (...) of Marx’s epistemology of religion and provide the meta-context in which the epistemological issue is framed. In light of Reformed epistemology, I then provide a critique of Marx’s criticism by turning his own argument on its head to the effect that there is significant likelihood that his view is both false and irrational. Finally, I defend against a possible objection. (shrink)
This paper is a constructive critical study of William P. Alston’s Perceiving God. It explores his account of perception of God, his doxastic practice epistemology, and his overall integration of faith and reason. In dealing with the first, it distinguishes some possible cases of theistic perception that have not generally been sorted out in the literature. In examining doxastic practices, it explores both the sense in which it is rational to engage in them and the epistemic status of beliefs (...) formed through them. Concerning the integration between faith and reason, it proposes a conception of faith in which, contrary to the prevailing tradition, belief is not central; distinguishes rationality from justification; and argues that the rationality of faith so conceived need not meet the same standard appropriate to the justification, or even the rationality, of the corresponding religious beliefs. (shrink)