Max Baker-Hytch
Oxford University (DPhil)
A familiar criticism of religious belief starts from the claim that a typical religious believer holds the particular religious beliefs she does just because she happened to be raised in a certain cultural setting rather than some other. This claim is commonly thought to have damaging epistemological consequences for religious beliefs, and one can find statements of an argument in this vicinity in the writings of John Stuart Mill and more recently Philip Kitcher, although the argument is seldom spelled out very precisely. This paper begins by offering a reconstruction of an argument against religious beliefs from cultural contingency, which proceeds by way of an initial argument to the unreliability of the processes by which religious beliefs are formed, whose conclusion is then used to derive two further conclusions, one which targets knowledge and the other, rationality. Drawing upon recent work in analytic epistemology, I explore a number of possible ways of spelling out the closely related notions of accidental truth, epistemic luck, and reliability upon which the argument turns. I try to show that the renderings of the argument that succeed in securing the sceptical conclusion against religious beliefs also threaten scepticism about various sorts of beliefs besides religious beliefs
Keywords Religious diversity  Cultural contingency  Epistemic luck  Reliability  Undercutting defeater  Knowledge
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DOI 10.1007/s11153-014-9452-7
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References found in this work BETA

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas Samuel Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
Counterfactuals.David Kellogg Lewis - 1973 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Blackwell.
Philosophical Explanations.Robert Nozick - 1981 - Harvard University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Problems of Religious Luck: Assessing the Limits of Reasonable Religious Disagreement.Guy Axtell - 2019 - Lanham, MD, USA & London, UK: Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield.
Religious Diversity (Pluralism).David Basinger - 2014 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:1.

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