The Nature and Rationality of Faith

In Joshua Rasmussen & Kevin Vallier (eds.), The New Theists. Routledge (forthcoming)
Authors
Elizabeth Jackson
University of Notre Dame
Abstract
A popular objection to theistic commitment involves the idea that faith is irrational.  Specifically, some seem to put forth something like the following argument: (P1) Everyone (or almost everyone) who has faith is epistemically irrational, (P2) All theistic believers have faith, thus (C) All (or most) theistic believers are epistemically irrational.  In this paper, I argue that this line of reasoning fails. I do so by considering a number of candidates for what faith might be.  I argue that, for each candidate, either (P1) is false or (P2) is false.  Then, I make two positive suggestions for how faith can be epistemically rational but nonetheless have a unique relationship to evidence: one, that Jamesian self-justifying attitudes describe a distinctive kind of faith in oneself and others, and two, that faith is not solely based on empirical evidence.
Keywords Faith  Evidence  Rationality  Inquiry  Evidentialism  Self-fulfilling beliefs  Empirical Evidence
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