Can Religious Unbelief Be Proper Function Rational?

Faith and Philosophy 16 (3):297-314 (1999)
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Abstract

This paper presents a critical analysis of Alvin Plantinga’s recent contention, developed in Warranted Christian Belief (forthcoming), that if theism is true, then it is unlikely that religious unbelief is the product of properly functioning, truth-aimed cognitive faculties. More specifically, Plantinga argues that, given his own model of properly basic theistic belief, religious unbelief would always depend on cognitive malfunction somewhere in a person’s noetic establishment. I argue that this claim is highly questionable and has adverse consequences for Plantinga’s epistemology of religious belief. Plantinga’s proper basicality thesis together with his view of rationality defeaters suggests that there are circumstances in which theistic belief would not be proper function rational even if theism is true.

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Michael Sudduth
San Francisco State University

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