Evidential Privilege: An Inquiry Into Justified Belief, God, and Plantinga

Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles (1986)
David Carl Wilson
Webster University
Some of our beliefs are justified regardless of the quality of the evidence for them. This, at least, is what Alvin Plantinga argues; and, he adds, belief in God is typically just such a belief. With the objective of determining whether Plantinga is right, I conduct a broad inquiry into the pertinent epistemological issues. ;I begin with meta-epistemology. A justified belief, I argue, is a belief that satisfies the internal necessary conditions for knowledge. Alternatively, it is a belief that we would be willing to take someone's word for, on the assumption that we did not know the identity of the belief but did know the internal conditions that the belief satisfied. By looking at particular instances of such beliefs and at the principles that such beliefs must satisfy, the correct theory of justified belief can be discovered. ;I then turn to substantive epistemology. The three most popular theories of justified belief are reliabilism, foundationalism, and coherentism; but each is ruled out by the preceding meta-epistemology. To be preferred is a composite view, which I present as a system of hypothetical imperatives directing us, if we want to know the answer to a particular question, to accept the answer that displays the appropriate empirical and propositional fit. ;I finally employ this theory in assessing the original claim--that some beliefs can be justified without regard for the quality of their evidence. If the claim is that some beliefs can be justified without satisfying the necessary conditions for justification, it is trivially false. If the claim is that some beliefs can be justified without the existence of arguments in their favor, it may well be true--but, pace Plantinga, belief in God cannot be one of those beliefs. If the claim is that some beliefs can be justified without the believer's producing evidence or even being able to produce evidence for the belief, it is true; in fact, in this way it is true for all justified beliefs. And it is only in this way that belief in God, if justified, can be evidentially privileged
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 35,829
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Can Belief in God Be Confirmed?: MARK S. MCLEOD.Mark S. Mcleod - 1988 - Religious Studies 24 (3):311-323.
Is Justified True Behavior Knowledge?.Frank Hammonds - 2010 - Behavior and Philosophy 38:49-59.
Trustworthiness.Catherine Z. Elgin - 2008 - Philosophical Papers 37 (3):371-387.
Deontologism and Internalism in Epistemology.Howard Benjamin Shaeffer - 1999 - Dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara
Primitively Rational Belief-Forming Processes.Ralph Wedgwood - 2011 - In Andrew Reisner & Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen (eds.), Reasons for Belief. Cambridge University Press. pp. 180--200.
Foundationalism.Daniel Howard-Snyder - 2012 - In Andrew Cullison (ed.), The Continuum Companion to Epistemology. Continuum. pp. 37.
Can a Justified Belief Be False?Douglas Odegard - 1976 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 6 (3):561 - 568.
Coherence and the Justification of Belief.Anthony Joseph Graybosch - 1983 - Dissertation, City University of New York
The Theory of Justification.James Richard Ciccotelli - 1981 - Dissertation, Princeton University
Epistemology.Matthias Steup - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.


Added to PP index

Total downloads

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes

Sign in to use this feature