I took it that the definitions Swinburne quotes imply that all of a person's basic beliefs are (privately) rational; Swinburne demurs. It still seems to me that these definitions have this consequence. Let me briefly explain why. According to Swinburne, a person's evidence consists of his basic beliefs, weighted by his confidence in them. So presumably we are to think of S's evidence as the set of the beliefs he takes in the basic way, together with a sort of index (...) indicating, for each of those beliefs, his degree of confidence in that belief. Now it is clear, first, that different basic beliefs can be held with different degrees of confidence. I believe 2+1 = 3 more firmly than there are presently some large trees in my backyard, and I believe that second proposition more firmly than I played bridge last night. Nevertheless, I believe all three propositions; I don't just believe them probably. So, the set of my basic beliefs contains propositions, all of which I believe. Further, a belief of mine is ‘rendered (evidentially) probable by [my] evidence’, I take it, just if it is probable with respect to the set of my basic beliefs. But of course probability of 1 with respect to that set; the degree of confidence with which I hold those beliefs does not seem to be relevant. Hence my conclusion that on these definitions all of my basic beliefs are rational. Swinburne points out that some of my basic beliefs may be improbable with respect to the rest of my basic beliefs; these beliefs, then, might be thought irrational, at least if they are not held as firmly as those with respect to which they are improbable. But this seems to me an uninteresting sense of ‘irrational’. Many of my basic beliefs are improbable with respect to my other basic beliefs; they are none the worse for that. I now remember, as it seems to me, that in the second bridge hand last night I was dealt three aces, three jacks, and three deuces. This is unlikely on the rest of my basic beliefs. It is, nonetheless, not irrational in any useful sense; memory is an important and independent source of rational belief, a source such that its deliverances do not necessarily depend, for warrant or rationality, on their probability with respect to other basic beliefs. I believe the same goes for some of my Christian beliefs. They may be improbable with respect to other beliefs, basic or otherwise, that I hold; but that need be nothing whatever against them. Footnotes1 Note: This brief discussion arises out of Richard Swinburne's critical notice of Alvin Plantinga's Warranted Christian Belief (New York NY: Oxford University Press, 2000) and Plantinga's reply in Religious Studies, 37 (2001), 203–214, 215–222. (shrink)
In this companion volume to Warrant: The Current Debate, Plantinga develops an original approach to the question of epistemic warrant; that is what turns true belief into knowledge. He argues that what is crucial to warrant is the proper functioning of one's cognitive faculties in the right kind of cognitive environment.
This book, one of the first full-length studies of the modalities to emerge from the debate to which Saul Kripke, David Lewis, Ruth Marcus, and others are contributing, is an exploration and defense of the notion of modality de re, the idea that objects have both essential and accidental properties. Plantinga develops his argument by means of the notion of possible worlds and ranges over such key problems as the nature of essence, transworld identity, negative existential propositions, and the (...) existence of unactual objects in other possible worlds. He also applies his logical theories to the elucidation of two problems in the philosophy of religion: the problem of evil and the ontological argument. (shrink)
The following is a synopsis of the paper presented by Alvin Plantinga at the RATIO conference on The Meaning of Theism held in April 2005 at the University of Reading. The synopsis has been prepared by the Editor, with the author’s approval, from a handout provided by the author at the conference. The paper reflects on whether religious belief of a traditional Christian kind can be maintained consistently with accepting our modern scientific worldview. Many theologians, and also many scientists, (...) maintain that the idea of divine intervention is at odds with the framework of natural laws disclosed by science. The paper argues that this notion of a ”religion/science problem’ is misguided. When properly understood, neither the classical (Newtonian) picture of natural laws, nor the more recent quantum mechanical picture, rules out divine intervention. There is nothing in science, under either the old or the new picture, that conflicts with, or even calls in to question, special divine action, including miracles. (shrink)
Perhaps no one has done more in the last 30 years to advance thinking in the metaphysics of modality than has Alvin Plantinga. Collected here are some of his most important essays on this influential subject. Dating back from the late 1960's to the present, they chronicle the development of Plantinga's thoughts about some of the most fundamental issues in metaphysics: what is the nature of abstract objects like possible worlds, properties, propositions, and such phenomena? Are there possible (...) but non-actual objects? Can objects that do not exist exemplify properties? Plantinga gives thorough and penetrating to all of these questions and many others. This volume contains some of the best work in metaphysics from the past 30 years, and will remain a source of critical contention and keen interest among philosophers of metaphysics and philosophical logic for years to come. (shrink)
This book is a long-awaited major statement by a pre-eminent analytic philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, on one of our biggest debates -- the compatibility of science and religion. The last twenty years has seen a cottage industry of books on this divide, but with little consensus emerging. Plantinga, as a top philosopher but also a proponent of the rationality of religious belief, has a unique contribution to make. His theme in this short book is that the conflict between science (...) and theistic religion is actually superficial, and that at a deeper level they are in concord. -/- Plantinga examines where this conflict is supposed to exist -- evolution, evolutionary psychology, analysis of scripture, scientific study of religion -- as well as claims by Dan Dennett, Richard Dawkins, and Philip Kitcher that evolution and theistic belief cannot co-exist. Plantinga makes a case that their arguments are not only inconclusive but that the supposed conflicts themselves are superficial, due to the methodological naturalism used by science. On the other hand, science can actually offer support to theistic doctrines, and Plantinga uses the notion of biological and cosmological "fine-tuning" in support of this idea. Plantinga argues that we might think about arguments in science and religion in a new way -- as different forms of discourse that try to persuade people to look at questions from a perspective such that they can see that something is true. In this way, there is a deep and massive consonance between theism and the scientific enterprise. (shrink)
The author replies to Michael Tooley's comments ('Alvin Plantinga and the argument from evil', Australasian journal of philosophy, December 1980) on his treatment of the argument from evil in The nature of necessity; he argues that Toole's remarks constitute at best a mere galimatias.
Plantinga examines the nature of epistemic warrant; whatever it is that when added to true belief yields knowledge. This volume surveys current contributions to the debate and paves the way for his owm positive proposal in Warrant and Proper Function.
One of today's most controversial and heated issues is whether or not the conflict between science and religion can be reconciled. In Science and Religion: Are They Compatible?, renowned philosophers Daniel C. Dennett and Alvin Plantinga expand upon the arguments that they presented in an exciting live debate held at the 2009 American Philosophical Association Central Division conference. An enlightening discussion that will motivate students to think critically, Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? opens with Plantinga's assertion that (...) Christianity is compatible with evolutionary theory because Christians believe that God created the living world, and it is entirely possible that God did so by using a process of evolution. Dennett vigorously rejects this argument, provoking a reply from Plantinga, another response from Dennett, and final statements from both sides. As philosophers, the authors possess expert skills in critical analysis; their arguments provide a model of dialogue between those who strongly disagree. Ideal for courses in philosophy of religion, science and religion, and philosophy of science, Science and Religion is also captivating reading for general readers. (shrink)
Paul Churchland argues that Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism is unsuccessful and so we need not accept its conclusion. In this paper, we respond to Churchland’s argument. After we briefly recapitulate Plantinga’s argument and state Churchland’s argument, we offer three objections to Churchland’s argument: (1) its first premise has little to recommend it, (2) its second premise is false, and (3) its conclusion is consistent with, and indeed entails, the conclusion of Plantinga’s argument.
Is belief in God justified? That’s the fundamental question at the heart of this volume of the Great Debates in Philosophy series. Alvin Plantinga and Michael Tooley each tackle the matter with distinctive arguments fromopposing perspectives. The book opens with an explanation of the philosophers’ viewpoints, followed by a lively and engaging conversation in which each directly responds to the other's arguments.
One of today's most controversial and heated issues is whether or not the conflict between science and religion can be reconciled. In Science and Religion: Are They Compatible?, renowned philosophers Daniel C. Dennett and Alvin Plantinga expand upon the arguments that they presented in an exciting live debate held at the 2009 American Philosophical Association Central Division conference. -/- An enlightening discussion that will motivate students to think critically, Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? opens with Plantinga's assertion (...) that Christianity is compatible with evolutionary theory because Christians believe that God created the living world, and it is entirely possible that God did so by using a process of evolution. Dennett vigorously rejects this argument, provoking a reply from Plantinga, another response from Dennett, and final statements from both sides. As philosophers, the authors possess expert skills in critical analysis; their arguments provide a model of dialogue between those who strongly disagree. Ideal for courses in philosophy of religion, science and religion, and philosophy of science, Science and Religion is also captivating reading for general readers. (shrink)
Only in rational creatures is there found a likeness of God which counts as an image . . . . As far as a likeness of the divine nature is concerned, rational creatures seem somehow to attain a representation of [that] type in virtue of imitating God not only in this, that he is and lives, but especially in this, that he understands (ST Ia Q.93 a.6).
The philosophical doctrine of methodological naturalism holds that, for any study of the world to qualify as "scientific," it cannot refer to God's creative activity (or any sort of divine activity). The methods of science, it is claimed, "give us no purchase" on theological propositions--even if the latter are true--and theology therefore cannot influence scientific explanation or theory justification. Thus, science is said to be religiously neutral, if only because science and religion are, by their very natures, epistemically distinct. However, (...) the actual practice and content of science challenge this claim. In many areas, science is anything but religiously neutral; moreover, the standard arguments for methodological naturalism suffer from various grave shortcomings. [This is the first part of a two-part article.]. (shrink)
First I state and develop a probabilistic argument for the conclusion that theistic belief is irrational or somehow noetically improper. Then I consider this argument from the point of view of the major contemporary accounts of probability, Concluding that none of them offers the atheologian aid and comfort.
First, my thanks to Richard Swinburne for his probing and thoughtful review of my book Warranted Christian Belief (WCB). His account of the book's mainline of argument is accurate as far as it goes; it does contain an important lacuna, however. The focus of the book is twofold; it is aimed in two directions. First, just as Swinburne says, I argue that there are no plausible de iure objections to Christian belief that are independent of de facto objections; any plausible (...) objection to the rationality of Christian belief, or to its warrant (the property that distinguishes knowledge from mere true belief), or its justification, will either be obviously mistaken or will (as with Freud, and Marx and a thousand others) presuppose one or more de facto objections. This is intended as a contribution to apologetics; it is important, because many or most objections to Christian belief are of just the sort I attempt to discredit. (‘I don't know whether Christian belief is true or not – who could know a thing like that? – but I do know that it is irrational, or unwarranted, or not rationally justified, or…’.) Second (and this is the focus Swinburne fails to mention), I proposed the extended A/C (Aquinas/Calvin) model as, from the perspective of Christian belief, a plausible account of the way in which Christian belief is, in fact, justified, rational and warranted. So the book is aimed in two directions: first towards readers generally, whether Christian believers or not, and second towards Christian believers. (shrink)
Suppose there were a set T of all truths, and consider all subsets of T --all members of the power set T. To each element of this power set will correspond a truth. To each set of the power set, for example, a particular truth T1 either will or will not belong as a member. In either case we will have a..