This study considered representations of divine and human others in the self-understanding of monotheists from three religions. Self-understanding was conceptualized on the basis of semantic and episodic knowledge in narrative response data. Given the importance of social context in the formation of cognitive schemas, the project emphasized self-understanding in a comparative religious design. The sample included sixty nominated religious exemplars who responded to a structured interview. Schemas were subsequently mapped for Jews, Muslims, and Christians by comparison of self and other (...) representations in a computational model known as latent semantic analysis (LSA). Findings indicated that representation of the divine is far removed from parents in cognitive schemas for all participants. Unlike Jews and Christians, Muslims appear to represent human others on the basis of self-understanding which principally references the divine. When considered in a computational semantic space, exemplars generally represent the self in a manner corresponding with divine and peer figures. (shrink)
In relating philosophy to intercultural understanding, one of the key problems that arises is that of the relationship between tolerance and religious belief.This paper challenges the common understanding of tolerance in contemporary debates over religious diversity. It argues that tolerance is overused and over-applied in these debates, and has wrongfully come to refer to tactlessness, harshness of condemnation, and even exclusivity of belief. In seeking to clarify the concept and ensure its appropriate usage, it proposes that religious tolerance should only (...) be applied to beliefs and actions following from those beliefs. It offers a framework in which tolerance about epistemic matters and tolerance about metaphysical matters is differentiated, and proposes that rejecting a certain element of metaphysical tolerance, namely the coexistence of incompatible content, is not a legitimate condition for intolerance. These clarifications enable a more consistent way of understanding tolerance and religious diversity. (shrink)
We discuss methodological problems and present our own empirical data on calculation tasks in toddlers. We propose to develop enriching theoretical models concerning quantity representations, based on empirical findings from developmental psychology. A revitalization of the debate is worthy, because it is reminiscent of the philosophical dispute on universal entities in scholasticism and Plato's theory of ideal numbers.
This article presents Alvin Plantinga’s views on epistemic justification. The first part situates Plantinga’s epistemological views in the context of his epistemology of religion and debates of general epistemology. The second part discusses Plantinga’s argument that the internalism of 20th century epistemology stems from deontologism and that the views on the epistemic justification of analytic philosophers reflect the relationship between classical deontologism and classical internalism. The last part points to the objections with which the Plantinga’s conception met and tries (...) to balance the depth and weakness of its position. (shrink)
Alvin Plantinga over the decades has developed a particular theory of warrant that would allow certain beliefs to be warranted, even if one lacked propositional arguments or evidence for them. One such belief that Plantinga focuses on is belief in God. There have been, however, numerous objections both to Plantinga's theory of warrant and to the religious application that he makes of it. In this article I address an objection from both of these categories. I first tackle an objection (...) that attempts to show that proper function isn't a necessary condition for warrant. After tackling this, I move on to interact with the Pandora's Box Objection. This objection argues that Plantinga's epistemology is weakened by the fact that all sorts of serious religious beliefs could be warranted by using his system. (shrink)
In his recently published Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, & Naturalism 2011 Alvin Plantinga criticises Paul Draper’s evolutionary argument against theism as part of a larger project to show that evolution poses no threat to Christian belief. Plantinga focuses upon Draper’s probabilistic claim that the facts of evolution are much more probable on naturalism than on theism, and with regard to that claim makes two specific points. First, Draper’s probabilistic claim contradicts theism’s necessary falsehood; unless Draper wishes (...) to acknowledge that theism is necessarily true, his claim commits him to theism’s contingency and so sets him at odds with a mainstream that sees God’s existence as decidedly noncontingent. Second, Plantinga argues that Draper’s probabilistic claim is, even if true, overwhelmed by counterclaims about facts that are more likely on theism than naturalism. I argue this critique of Draper depends upon a serious error, and that Plantinga overlooks the full implications of his own presuppositions. Correcting these shortcomings shows that Plantinga’s own probabilistic-apologetics (e.g., the ‘Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism’) requires theism’s contingency no less than does Draper’s atheology. (shrink)
In May 2010, philosophers, family and friends gathered at the University of Notre Dame to celebrate the career and retirement of Alvin Plantinga, widely recognized as one of the world's leading figures in metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of religion. Plantinga has earned particular respect within the community of Christian philosophers for the pivotal role that he played in the recent renewal and development of philosophy of religion and philosophical theology. Each of the essays in this volume engages with (...) some particular aspect of Plantinga's views on metaphysics, epistemology, or philosophy of religion. Contributors include Michael Bergman, Ernest Sosa, Trenton Merricks, Richard Otte, Peter VanInwagen, Thomas P. Flint, Eleonore Stump, Dean Zimmerman and Nicholas Wolterstorff. The volume also includes responses to each essay by Bas van Fraassen, Stephen Wykstra, David VanderLaan, Robin Collins, Raymond VanArragon, E. J. Coffman, Thomas Crisp, and Donald Smith. (shrink)
The term “technological fix”, coined by technologist/administrator Alvin Weinberg in 1965, vaunted engineering innovation as a generic tool for circumventing problems commonly conceived as social, political or cultural. A longtime Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, government consultant and essayist, Weinberg also popularized the term “Big Science” to describe national goals and the competitive funding environment after the Second World War. Big Science reoriented towards Technological Fixes, he argued, could provide a new “Apollo project” to address social problems of (...) the future. His ideas – most recently echoed in “solutionism” – have channeled confidence and controversy ever since. This paper traces the genesis and promotion of the concept by Weinberg and his contemporaries. It argues that, through it, the marginal politics and technological confidences of interwar scientists and technocrats were repositioned as mainstream notions closer to the heart of Big Science policy. (shrink)
By focussing on the logical relations between scientific theories and religious beliefs in his book Where the Conflict Really Lies, Alvin Plantinga overlooks the real conflict between science and religion. This conflict exists whenever religious believers endorse positive factual claims to truth concerning the supernatural. They thereby violate an important rule of scientific method and of common sense, according to which factual claims should be endorsed as true only if they result from validated epistemic methods or sources.
Why should a citizen vote? There are two ways to interpret this question: in a prudential sense, and in a moral sense. Under the first interpretation, the question asks why—or under what circumstances—it is in a citizen's self-interest to vote. Under the second interpretation, it asks what moral reasons citizens have for voting. I shall mainly try to answer the moral version of the question, but my answer may also, in some circumstances, bear on the prudential question. Before proceeding to (...) my own approach, let me briefly survey alternatives in the field. (shrink)
In his recent work in social epistemology, Alvin Goldman argues that truth is the fundamental epistemic end of education, and that critical thinking is of merely instrumental value with respect to that fundamental end. He also argues that there is a central place for testimony and trust in the classroom, and an educational danger in over-emphasizing the fostering of students’ critical thinking. In this paper I take issue with these claims, and argue that critical thinking is a fundamental end (...) of education, independently of its instrumental tie to truth, and it is critical thinking, rather than testimony and trust,that is educationally basic. (shrink)
1. Mainstream Epistemology and Social Epistemology Epistemology has had a strongly individualist orientation, at least since Descartes. Knowledge, for Descartes, starts with the fact of one’s own thinking and with oneself as subject of that thinking. Whatever else can be known, it must be known by inference from one’s own mental contents. Achieving such knowledge is an individual, rather than a collective, enterprise. Descartes’s successors largely followed this lead, so the history of epistemology, down to our own time, has been (...) a predominantly individualist affair. There are scattered exceptions. A handful of historical epistemologists gave brief space to the question of knowing, or believing justifiably, based on the testimony of others. Testimony-based knowledge would be one step into a more social epistemology. Hume took it for granted that we regularly rely on the factual statements of others, and argued that it is reasonable to do so if we have adequate reasons for trusting the veracity of these sources. However, reasons for such trust, according to Hume, must rest on personal observations of people’s veracity or reliability.1 Thomas Reid took a different view. He claimed that our natural attitude of trusting others is reasonable even if we know little if anything about others’ reliability. Testimony, at least sincere testimony, is always prima facie credible (Reid, 1970: 240-241). Here we have two philosophers of the 18th century both endorsing at least one element of what nowadays is called “social epistemology.” But these points did not much occupy either Hume’s or Reid’s corpus of philosophical writing; nor were these passages much studied or cited by their contemporaries and immediate successors. Fast forward now to the second half of the 20th century. Here we find intellectual currents pointing toward the socializing of epistemology. Several of these movements, however, were centered outside of philosophy and never adopted the label of “social epistemology,” or adopted it only belatedly. (shrink)
What are experts? Are there only experts in a subjective sense or are there also experts in an objective sense? And how, if at all, may non-experts recognize experts in an objective sense? In this paper, I approach these important questions by discussing Alvin I. Goldman's thoughts about how to define objective epistemic authority and about how non-experts are able to identify experts. I argue that a multiple epistemic desiderata approach is superior to Goldman's purely veritistic approach.
This article examines a thesis of interest to social epistemology and some articulations of First Amendment legal theory: that a free market in speech is an optimal institution for promoting true belief. Under our interpretation, the market-for-speech thesis claims that more total truth possession will be achieved if speech is regulated only by free market mechanisms; that is, both government regulation and private sector nonmarket regulation are held to have information-fostering properties that are inferior to the free market. After discussing (...) possible counterexamples to the thesis, the article explores the actual implications of economic theory for the emergence of truth in a free market for speech. When confusions are removed about what is maximized by perfectly competitive markets, and when adequate attention is paid to market imperfections, the failure of the market-for-speech thesis becomes clear. The article closes by comparing the properties of a free market in speech with an adversarial system of discourse. (shrink)
In Warranted Christian Belief, Alvin Plantinga makes use of his earlier two books, Warrant: the Current Debate and Warrant and Proper Function, to show how it is possible for someone to have a warranted belief that God exists and that all of the great things of the Christian Gospel are true even if the believer is unable to give any argument to support these beliefs. Three objections are lodged against Plantinga’s position. First, the alleged sensus divinitatis and the internal (...) instigation of the Holy Spirit are crucially disanalogous to the cognitive faculties, such as memory and perception, in the standard package, thereby destroying his argument based on an analogy between the former and the latter. Second, in order to defeat defeaters for these beliefs one must give arguments, thus merely relocating the point at which the believer must produce argumentative support for her belief. Third, there are moral defeaters for exclusivist basic theistic and Christian beliefs based on the undesirable consequences of such beliefs. (shrink)
Alvin Plantinga è uno dei più importanti metafisici e filosofi della religione viventi. In questo profilo, dopo aver brevemente narrato la sua formazione intellettuale, considererò alcuni aspetti del suo pensiero: la teoria di Plantinga dei mondi possibili; la sua teoria della garanzia epistemica delle credenze, fondata sul concetto di funzione propria; la versione di Plantinga dell’argomento ontologico per provare l’esistenza di Dio; la sua critica dell’argomento del male per provare l'inesistenza di Dio; l’argomento di Plantinga contro il naturalismo.
The title of this article is ambiguous in the sense that it may direct the attention to either theism as a system of beliefs of persons who are referring to particular facts that serve as external grounds for the foundation of theist beliefs or to theism as a system of beliefs of persons who are convinced of theism’s truth on grounds that are intrinsic to their belief . Traces of both conceptions of theism can be found in Alvin Plantinga’s (...) thesis of the ‘proper basicality’ of religious belief, for instance in the distinction between evidence of the ‘on the basis of …’- type and evidence of the ‘inclination’- type. However, these two types of evidence do only lead to doxastic experience. In order to be warranted with respect to a particular knowledge claim, beliefs must be produced by noetic capacities that function properly, i.e. according to their design plan and in contexts that are appropriate to these capacities. This externalist epistemology exerts its greatest power in the criticism of the ‘evidentialist objection to belief in God’. However, it raises a number of objections with respect to its positive account of theism. When every community of thinkers creates its own relevant set of examples in order to establish criteria of proper basicality, does this not lead to skepticism? And, can doxastic experience not be honoured as a proper response to being called by divine discourse and, correspondingly, be seen as the relational foundation of theist belief? (shrink)
In this article, I argue that Wang Yangming'sNeo-Confucian religious beliefs can bewarranted, and that the rationality of hisreligious beliefs constitutes a significantdefeater for the rationality of Christianbelief on Alvin Plantinga's theory of warrant. I also question whether the notion of warrantas proper function can adequately account fortheories of religious knowledge in which theaffections play an integral role. Idemonstrate how a consideration of Wang'sepistemology reveals a difficulty forPlantinga's defense of the rationality ofChristian belief and highlights a limitation ofPlantinga's current conception (...) of warrant asproper function. (shrink)
In his recent two volumes on epistemology, Alvin Plantinga surveys contemporary theories of knowledge thoroughly, and carefully defends an externalist epistemology. He promises that in a third volume, Warranted Christian Belief, he will present John Calvin's sensus divinitatis as an epistemic module akin to sense perception, a priori knowledge, induction, testimony and other epistemic modules. Plantinga defines the sensus divinitatis as a ‘many sided disposition to accept belief in God in a variety of circumstances’. Like other epistemic modules, it (...) produces beliefs in an appropriate cognitive environment, aims at the production of true beliefs, and generates beliefs which have a high statistical probability of being true. (shrink)
James Beilby’s Epistemology as Theology is the first monograph to address Alvin Plantinga’s completed Warrant Trilogy. The book provides a thorough introduction to Plantinga’s current religious epistemology, but readers hoping for a critical treatment of Plantinga will be largely disappointed: while Beilby does level criticisms against Plantinga, he often underestimates their significance. One of Beilby’s main goals is to sketch out how a version of Reformed epistemology, even if not exactly Plantinga’s version, can withstand its critics. I provide a (...) chapter-by-chapter examination of Beilby’s book, and argue his defense of Reformed epistemology is not obviously a significant improvement over Plantinga’s. (shrink)
In theological and philosophical circles, religious experience has often been described in terms of a direct encounter with the supernatural that exceeds the possibilities of normal human experience. More recently, however, select scholars have endeavored to explore the respects in which ordinary aesthetic experiences might serve as a site for mediated encounters with the divine. In this paper, I will argue that any attempt to establish the legitimacy of both direct and aesthetic religious experiences depends upon their placement within a (...) larger context, which recognizes the sense in which all forms of ordinary human experience may mediate an experience of God. In order to bolster this claim, I will begin with a critical assessment of the relevant work of Alvin Plantinga and Mark Wynn, who respectively offer accounts of direct and aesthetic religious experience. I will then show that neither account fully evades two main objections that tend to be leveled against accounts of religious experience. Following this discussion, I will develop an account of the way all ordinary human experiences may mediate religious experience, in conversation with Thomas Aquinas. Far from precluding narrower accounts of religious experience as direct or aesthetic, this account includes them in a way that makes it possible to determine their validity. (shrink)
In the first part of this paper I argue that even if at first Alvin Plantinga’s reasons for allowing special divine action seem similar to those of Thomas Aquinas, particularly in De Potentia Dei for allowing miracles, the difference in their metaphysical language makes Aquinas’ account less prone to the objections raised against Plantinga’s. In the second part I argue that Plantinga errs when recurring to quantum mechanics for allowing special divine action, making God to be a cause among (...) causes. Thomas Aquinas, by speaking of primary and secondary causality when referring to God’s activity, avoids taking this step, evading the conclusion that God could be seen as a cause among causes. Aquinas, however, maintains in a statement which goes beyond Plantinga’s, that God’s providence requires the universe to be indeterministic because this indeterministic feature makes the universe more perfect. (shrink)
A prominent analytic philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, here writes on one of our biggest debates—the compatibility of science and religion. I will begin this review by summarizing the contents of the book. I will then comment specifically on certain entailments of the title and give some general constructive criticisms of the text. Finally, I will remark about its potential readership. Notably, this book originated as Gifford Lectures, entitled “Science and Religion: Conflict or Concord?” at the University of St. Andrews in (...) 2005.Plantinga’s overall theme is that there is a superficial conflict but deep concord between science and religion, but superficial concord and deep conflict between science and naturalism. In the preface, Plantinga stipulates that one can be an atheist without rising to the full heights of naturalism, but one cannot be a naturalist without being an atheist . In Part I, composed of four chapters considering Al .. (shrink)
Alvin Goldman's recent collection (Goldman, 1992) includes many of the important and seminal contributions made by him over the last three decades to epistemology, philosophy of mind, and analytic metaphysics. Goldman is an acknowledged leader in efforts to put material from cognitive and social science to good philosophical use. This is the “liaison” which Goldman takes his own work to exemplify and advance. Yet the essays contained in Liaisons chart an important evolution in Goldman's own views about the relation (...) between philosophy and empirical inquiry. Goldman raises, if only unwittingly, the question of what philosophy per se contributes to the encounter. The way in which Goldman's work problematizes the claim that philosophy forms a working liaison with the cognitive and social sciences is revealed by examining two sets of distinctions prominent in Goldman's analyses in this volume. I trace how each pair of terms—philosophy versus science, individual versus social—is used by Goldman and suggest that it is less clear than one would like how these key notions are or could be distinguished from one another. Doubts about these distinctions, at least as Goldman employs them, suggest more general concerns regarding Goldman's style of naturalism and the status of philosophy as a source of knowledge. Liaisons: philosophy meets the cognitive and social sciences , A. Goldman. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992. (shrink)
For the past 30 years, Alvin Plantinga's work in the metaphysics of modality has been both insightful and innovative; it is high time that his papers in this area be collected together in a single volume. This book contains 11 pieces of Plantinga's work in modal metaphysics, arranged in chronological order so one can trace the development of his thought on matters modal. In what follows I will lay out the principal concepts and arguments in these papers.
Alvin Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief (2000) is the capstone to the latest stage in his views on the intellectual credibility of theism in general, and Christian theism in particular. While Plantinga’s stature in the community of Christian philosophers alone makes gaining familiarity with this text a good idea for contemporary analytic philosophers of religion, its vigorous, innovative defense of specifically Christian theism and daring suggestions for renovating the landscape of analytic philosophy of religion merit serious consideration. I aim to (...) provide a useful introduction to the book’s contents and critique some of its main claims. (shrink)
Edited by James Sennett, this collection of articles by Alvin Plantinga is certainly deserving. The problem facing Sennett, however, is how to choose articles from an author whose writings span forty years of reflection. Fortunately, in Plantinga's after-word to this book, he approves of Sennett's choice. Plantinga states that the selection is a “snapshot” of his work thus far in the philosophy of religion, one that represents two major concerns: negative apologetics and the development of Christian philosophy.
I argue that Alvin Plantinga’s theory of warrant is plausible and that, contrary to the Pandora’s Box objection, there are certain serious world religions that cannot successfully use Plantinga’s epistemology to demonstrate that their beliefs could be warranted in the same way that Christian belief can be warranted. In arguing for, I deploy Ernest Sosa’s Swampman case to show that Plantinga’s proper function condition is a necessary condition for warrant. I then engage three objections to Plantinga’s theory of warrant, (...) each of which attempts to demonstrate that his conditions for warrant are neither necessary nor sufficient. Having defended the plausibility of Plantinga’s theory of warrant, I present and expand his key arguments to the effect that naturalism cannot make use of it. These arguments provide the conceptual tools that are needed to argue for : that there are certain world religions that cannot legitimately use Plantinga’s theory of warrant to demonstrate that their beliefs could be warranted in the same way that Christian belief can be warranted. (shrink)
Knowledge of God takes the form of a debate between Alvin Plantinga and Michael Tooley. Plantinga opens the batting with a seventy-page laying out of his case ‘that theism has a significant epistemic virtue: if it is true, it is warranted; this is a virtue naturalism emphatically lacks’ . Indeed, Plantinga argues that ‘if naturalism were true, there would be no such thing as knowledge’ . It will be recalled [e.g. Plantinga and Plantinga ] that Plantinga's position is that (...) warrant, understood as whatever it is that needs to be added to true belief to …. (shrink)
Alvin I. Goldman, Simulating Minds: The Philosophy, Psychology and Neuroscience of Mindreading Content Type Journal Article Pages 279-282 DOI 10.1007/s11023-009-9142-x Authors Susan Stuart, University of Glasgow Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute 11 University Gardens Glasgow G12 8QQ Scotland, UK Journal Minds and Machines Online ISSN 1572-8641 Print ISSN 0924-6495 Journal Volume Volume 19 Journal Issue Volume 19, Number 2.