Rob Lovering has recently argued that since theists have been unable, by means of philosophical arguments, to convince 85 percent of professional philosophers that God exists, at least one of their defining beliefs must be either false or meaningless. This paper is a critical examination of his argument. First we present Lovering’s argument and point out its salient features. Next we explain why the argument’s conclusion is entirely acceptable for theists, even if, as we show, there are multiple problems with (...) the premises. (shrink)
It has recently been argued that the following Rule should be part of any characterization of science: Claims concerning specific disputed facts should be endorsed only if they are sufficiently supported by the application of validated methods of research or discovery, and moreover that acceptance of this Rule should lead one to reject religious belief. This paper argues, first, that the Rule, as stated, should not be accepted as it suffers from a number of problems. And second, that even if (...) the Rule were to be acceptable, it should not lead one to reject religious belief. (shrink)
We present a Reformed view on the relation between Christianity and non-Christian religions. We then explore what this view entails for the question whether Christians and non-Christian religious believers refer to, believe in, and worship the same God. We first analyze the concepts of worship, belief-in, and reference, as well as their interrelations. We then argue that adherents of the Abrahamic religions plausibly refer to the same God, whereas adherents of non-Abrahamic religions do not refer to this God. Nonetheless, it (...) would be wrong to say that adherents of all Abrahamic religions believe in and worship the same God. (shrink)
This paper argues that next to the now widely recognized ‘externalist’ elements, Reid’s thought about belief with positive epistemic status contains a number of so-far unrecognized ‘internalist’ features. This claim is substantiated by (1) identifying a number of conditions that Reid holds beliefs of various sorts must satisfy if they are to have positive epistemic status, and by (2) arguing that, for Reid, many of these conditions are internal conditions. The conclusion is that the externalist and internalist elements in Reid (...) form a coherent whole and that his position can, with some qualification, be classified as the conjunction of weak externalism and weak internalism. (shrink)
Contrastivism is the claim that the knowledge relation is ternary, it relates three relata: a subject, a proposition, and a class of contrastive propositions. The present paper is a discussion of Jonathan Schaffer's arguments in favour of contrastivism. The case is made that these are unconvincing: the traditional binary account of knowledge can handle the phenomena that ternarity is claimed to handle in a superior way.
Widely acknowledged as the principal architect of Scottish common sense philosophy, Thomas Reid is increasingly recognized today as one of the finest philosophers of the eighteenth century. Combining a sophisticated response to the skeptical and idealist views of his day, Reid's thought stands as an important alternative to Humean skepticism, Kantian idealism and Cartesian rationalism. This volume is the first comprehensive overview of Reid's output and covers not only his philosophy in detail, but also his scientific work and his extensive (...) historical influence. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 69 - 90 It is often claimed that, as a result of scientific progress, we now _know_ that the natural world displays no design. Although we have no interest in defending design hypotheses, we will argue that establishing claims to the effect that we know the denials of design hypotheses is more difficult than it seems. We do so by issuing two skeptical challenges to design-deniers. The first challenge draws inspiration from radical skepticism (...) and shows how design claims are at least as compelling as radical skeptical scenarios in undermining knowledge claims, and in fact probably more so. The second challenge takes its cue from skeptical theism and shows how we are typically not in an epistemic position to rule out design. (shrink)
The idea that we can properly be held responsible for what we believe underlies large stretches of our social and institutional life; without that idea in place, social and institutional life would be unthinkable, and more importantly, it would stumble and fall. At the same time, philosophers have argued that this idea is strange, puzzling, beyond belief, false, meaningless or at any rate defective. The first section develops the alleged problem. The burden of this paper, however, is not to discuss (...) the merits of this idea but rather to measure the damage in case the idea turns out to be defective indeed. This is done by substantiating the claim that this idea indeed underlies large and important stretches of our social and institutional life. Section 2 substantiates that claim by presenting the results of a web search on the use of what I call "deontological epistemic expressions", i.e. expressions in which deontological and epistemological notions (both broadly construed) are combined; examples are "obligation to believe", "not permitted to forget", "right to know". The ubiquitous use of these expressions, I argue, is linguistic evidence for the claim that the contested idea indeed pervades our social life. Linguistic evidence, however, can be frail and misleading. From the fact that we say that the shade is moving we cannot conclude that shades really exist; likewise it may not be permitted to conclude from the ubiquitous use of deontological epistemic expressions that there really are doxastic obligations (and hence doxastic responsibilities). The third section, therefore, moves beyond the linguistic evidence and discusses two social institutions, viz. education and law as we find them in modern Western societies, and argues that they cannot be made sense of unless the contested idea is in place. Educational and legal systems of course vary greatly throughout the Western world. Such differences as exist, however, are irrelevant for the claim I will be making in this paper. The final section states the conclusion. (shrink)
Ever since at least Aristotle, it has been widely recognized that a theory of responsibility must allow for the fact that in certain conditions agents are excused for not doing what they ought to do —and accordingly that they cannot be held responsible for what they did not, or did, do. In such conditions they are not appropriate candidates for one of what Strawson has called the "reactive attitudes" such as resentment, contempt, gratitude, and affection. Let us call such conditions (...) excusing conditions. The main aim of this paper is to show that the very same conditions that can excuse agents for not doing what they ought to do , also can excuse them for having false beliefs. As an afterthought it is suggested that this is a reason for thinking that humans can sometimes be held responsible for what they believe. (shrink)
This paper argues that Peter van Inwagen’s argument for the mysteriousness of metaphysical freedom does not establish its conclusion. Van Inwagen’s argument involves the notion of ‘chance’. This paper explores how Van Inwagen’s argument fares when the notion of chance is unpacked in four different ways and two different semantics for conditionals are applied. This paper concludes that the mystery argument fails to establish that freedom is a mystery in each of its forms.
Degree-sentences, i.e. sentences that seem to refer to things that allow of degrees, are widely used both inside and outside of philosophy, even though the metaphysics of degrees is much of an untrodden field. This paper aims to fill this lacuna by addressing the following four questions: [A] Is there some one thing, such that it is degree sensitive? [B] Are there things x, y, and z that stand in a certain relation to each other, viz. the relation that x (...) has more y than z? [C] In those cases in which degree sentences do not refer to phenomena that are degree sensitive, what is responsible for their prima facie seeming to do so? [D] If there are degree sensitive things, to which ontological categories do they belong? We answer each of these questions by arguing that there are, metaphysically speaking, different phenomena that degree sentences refer to: some refer to determinates that emanate from a certain determinable, others to tokens that are instantiations of a certain type, and yet others to what we call ‘complex, resultant properties that are constituted by stereotypical properties’. (shrink)
We are ignorant knowers. This paper proposes an information theoretic explanation of that fact. The explanation is a conjunction of three claims. First, that even in those dimensions where we are capable of picking up information, there is information that we don’t pick up. Second, that there can be dimensions of information for which we lack the capacity to pick up any information whatsoever. Third, that we don’t know whether the faculties and cognitive capacities we are endowed with process all (...) the information that they pick up. (shrink)
Various tests have been proposed as helps to identify intrinsic properties. This paper compares three prominent tests and shows that they fail to pass adequate verdicts on a set of three properties. The paper examines whether improved versions of the tests can reduce or remove these negative outcomes. We reach the sceptical conclusion that whereas some of the tests must be discarded as inadequate because they don’t yield definite results, the remaining tests depend for their application on the details of (...) fundamental particle physics so much so that they cannot be relied upon. (shrink)
This paper derives, from Richard Moran’s work, three different accounts of doxastic Transparency—roughly, the view that when a rational person wants to know whether she believes that p, she directs her attention to the truth-value of p, not to the mental attitude she has vis-à-vis p. We investigate which of these is the most plausible of the three by discussing a number of examples. We conclude that the most plausible account of Transparency is in tension with the motivation behind Transparency (...) accounts: it is disconnected from the deliberative stance. (shrink)
Contextualists explain certain intuitions regarding knowledge ascriptions by means of the thesis that 'knowledge' behaves like an indexical. This explanation denies what Peter Unger has called invariantism, i.e., the idea that knowledge ascriptions have truth value independent of the context in which they are issued. This paper aims to provide an invariantist explanation of the contextualist's intuitions, the core of which is that 'knowledge' has many different senses.
At the same time new versions of foundationalism were crafted, that were claimed to be immune to the earlier criticisms. This volume contains 12 papers in which various aspects of this dialectic are covered.
This paper aims to throw light on what predicative expressions like "is a truth," where an adjective is inserted on the line, mean. It aims to do so by unearthing a framework that specifies various items that can be qualified by the adjectives, as well as various ways in which the adjectives perform their qualifying function. This framework forms the background against which, in the second half of this paper, the meaning of "is a relative truth" and "is an absolute (...) truth" are studied. This paper, then, studies what alethic adjectives mean and how they work. (shrink)
This paper argues that Reid's first principle of design can be more widely accepted then one might suppose, due to the fact that it specifies no marks of design. Also it is explicated that the relation of the principle, on the one hand, and properly basic design beliefs on the other, is a relation of presupposition. It is furthermore suggested that Reid's discussion of what can be done in case of disagreement about first principles points to a position that is (...) relevant to the current debates in the Epistemology of Disagreement literature and that merits further elaboration. (shrink)
This paper argues that reading is a source of knowledge. Epistemologists have virtually ignored reading as a source of knowledge. This paper argues, first, that reading is not to be equated with attending to testimony, and second that it cannot be reduced to perception. Next an analysis of reading is offered and the source of knowledge that reading is further delineated. Finally it is argued that the source that reading is, can be both transmissive and generative, is non-basic, once was (...) a non-essential but has become essential for many people, and can be unique. (shrink)
‘Modal aspect’ is a central notion in so-called ‘Calvinistic Philosophy’. To be sure, this is true of only one of its versions, namely Dooyeweerd’s. For Vollenhoven’s systematic philosophy, which of course may also lay claim on the title CP, has no use for it. In his version pride of place is given to the notion of ‘function’. This paper is a meditation on the question what ‘aspects’ and ‘functions’, within the bounds of CP, are supposed to be. Doing so will (...) shed, I hope, at least some light on the question which, if any, of the two is the more intelligible and useful notion. Right at the beginning I should like to make it clear that this paper is narrowly focussed on the indicated questions. My aim is not to discuss any theory about modal aspects, such as Dooyeweerd’s theory that modal aspects are refractions in time of something supra temporal, or his theory that there is an Archimedian Point from which human beings can overlook the various modal aspects. Nor will I discuss any theory about functions. The indicated questions seek to establish what the phenomena are that such theories are about. This paper is also narrowly focussed in that whatever differences may turn out to exist in the course of this meditation between Vollenhoven and Dooyeweerd, it will not discuss them in any depth. A serious discussion of these differences will have to take into account the theories that I propose presently not to deal with. Let me now turn to the first question. (shrink)
This article is a discussion of Hume's maxim Nothing we imagine is absolutely impossible. First I explain this maxim and distinguish it from the principle Whatever cannot be imagined (conceived), is impossible. Next I argue that Thomas Reid's criticism of the maxim fails and that the arguments by Tamar Szábo Gendler and John Hawthorne for the claim that "it is uncontroversial that there are cases where we are misled" by the maxim are unconvincing. Finally I state the limited but real (...) value of the maxim: it does help us, in certain cases, reliably to make up our minds. Along the way I show that Reid, his criticism of the maxim notwithstanding, actually employs it, and I furthermore argue that the principle What is inconceivable, is impossible is spurious. (shrink)
Hoewel misschien minder dan vroeger, zijn velen van ons op zoek naar waarheid, of ‘de’ waarheid . We beseffen dat het ‘hebben’ van waarheid een groot goed is. We beseffen ook dat waarheid, of ‘de’ waarheid, soms of vaak, moeilijk te achterhalen is: het is een soms of vaak ongrijpbaar goed. Wie echter geen volslagen scepticus is kan in beginsel lijsten aanleggen van beweringen waarvan hij weet dat ze waar zijn, beweringen waarvan hij weet dat ze onwaar zijn, maar ook (...) van beweringen waarvan hij niet weet of ze waar dan wel onwaar zijn. (shrink)
De apostel Paulus spreekt in één van zijn brieven over ‘de verduistering van het verstand’ — een verduistering die het gevolg is van zonde.1 In het werk van een groot aantal filosofen uit de westerse filosofische traditie heeft dit woord van Paulus op een of andere wijze weerklank gevonden. Bij Augustinus, Anselmus, Thomas van Aquino, Jonathan Edwards, Kierkegaard, John Henry Newman en Franz von Baader bijvoorbeeld, en in ons land bij Abraham Kuyper en Herman Dooyeweerd, vindt men reflecties over de (...) noëtische gevolgen van de zonde.2 Deze denkers hebben de noëtische doorwerking van de zonde onder meer aangewezen in de volgende verschijnselen: dat mensen allerlei onware gedachten hebben dat onze kenvermogens lang niet altijd naar behoren functioneren, zoals onder andere blijkt uit geheugenzwakte, misperceptie en foutief redeneren dat mensen het vaak onderling oneens zijn. (shrink)
This paper deals with the manifold relations that exist between 'reason' and Christian belief. The plurality of relations is due to the fact that 'reason' can refer to a certain cognitive faculty, a norm, as well as to 'the scientific enterprise'. The author makes three claims in this paper. 1) Even though Christian belief is not, for the most part, a product of the faculty of reason, it does not conflict with the products of reason. 2) Christian belief does not (...) violate norms of reasonable belief. 3) There is no conflict between what science tells us about the history of the cosmos and the evolution of life on Earth, on the one hand, and the Christian doctrine of creation, on the other. (shrink)
The thesis developed and defended in this paper is that is it false that all knowledge is founded on experience. Much of our knowledge (or alleged knowledge), it is argued, is based on testimony. Still, many philosophers have either not dealt with testimony at all, or treated it very unkindly. One of the reasons for this is that those philosophers (such as Descartes and Locke) work with a concept of knowledge according to which knowledge is certain, indubitable, and/or self-evident. And (...) if knowledge is what these philosophers say it is, then there is no such thing as knowledge based on testimony indeed. Thomas Reid is introduced as holding that we do have testimonial knowledge and that therefore Descartes' and Locke's concept of knowledge is untenable. Reid furthermore holds that human beings are endowed with a disposition to accept or believe what otherstell us („the principle of credulity”). The working of this principle is refined through all kinds of experience. What Reid says or shows is how this disposition in fact operates. Many epistemologists, however, have higher aspirations and look for reasons or arguments that can justify our factual acceptance of testimony. The inductive argument Hume offers, it is argued, is unconvincing. There is even reason to think that the principle of credulity can never be justified by adducing reasons. This does not imply, however, that acceptance of testimony is unjustified. Whether or not it is depends, among other things, on the concept of justification one uses. On an internalist concept of justification (as Locke's or Hume's) this disposition may never be justified. But on an externalist conception it may. This may be disappointing, given some widely held philosophical aspirations, but at the same time it is, as Alston has said, a lesson in intellectual humility. (shrink)
In this paper I first take a critical look at Grube’s allegiance to the idea that bivalence should be rejected as it can serve the cause of religious toleration. I argue that bivalence is not what Grube says it is, and that rejection of bivalence comes at a very high price that we should not be willing to pay. Next I analyze Grube’s argument for religious toleration – an argument that does not involve the rejection of bivalence. I argue that (...) the argument is unconvincing because there exists no relation between epistemic justification and toleration. (shrink)
This paper discusses some arguments against some traditional 'proofs of God's existence'. First it is argued that it is not obvious that these arguments are fallacious. Secondly, I try to articulate why so many Protestant thinkers maintained a hostile attitude toward the traditional proofs. I argue that their attitude was shaped by the conviction that belief in God is epistemically justified even when it is not based on argument or proof. I reconstruct Bavinck's treatment of the traditional proofs as a (...) rejection of what has come to be called 'classical foundationalism'. Lastly I try to show that even though Protestant thinkers were right in claiming that one does not need any of the traditional arguments in order to be epistemically justified in believing that God exists, this does not imply that such arguments are without any value. (shrink)
Throughout the history of Western philosophy there has been a remarkable consensus that the unique and distinctive feature of human nature lies in the human capacity to think — that is, to think rationally. Being rational is conceived of as being an essential property of human beings. The Amsterdam philosopher Otto Dirk Duintjer2 has made an impressive attempt to analyze this dominant intellectual tradition for the purpose of furnishing hints for an alternative conception of what goes into the essence of (...) being human. This alternative is presented not as another, more promising route within, but as a way out of our Western intellectual cul-de-sac, as Duintjer sees it. In this essay I first want to give a brief exposition of Duintjer’s analysis of our philosophical tradition because, I think, it is worth our serious consideration. Secondly, I will review his alternative for the traditional conception of what it means to be a human being. And thirdly I will discuss the viability of his alternative by comparing it with Dooyeweerd’s transcendental philosophy. (shrink)
Een van de meest opwindende ontwikkelingen in de Engelstalig filosofische wereld van de laatste decennia is vermoedelijk wel de herleving van de godsdienstfilosofie. Deze leek begraven omdat de godsdienst zelf, m.n. het Christendom, begraven leek onder een vracht van beschuldigingen, zoals de neopositivistische negatie van de zinnigheid van godsdienstige taal; of Sartre’s stelling dat de godsdienst de mens van zijn authenticiteit berooft; of de Freudiaanse gedachte dat godsdienst een neurose is; of de Marxistische mening dat de godsdienst de mens vervreemdt (...) van de maatschappelijke erkelijkheid. Voorzover godsdienstfilosofie — laten we zeggen tot in de zestiger jaren — mogelijk leek en werkelijkheid was, dan voornamelijk als godsdienstkritiek. (shrink)
In 1974 werd voor het eerst op een Nederlandse school het eindexamen filosofie afgenomen. 13 VWO leerlingen namen daaraan deel. Deze Gideonsbende is sindsdien gestaag gegroeid, de laatste jaren zelfs zo sterk, dat van een kleine bende geen sprake meer kan zijn. In 2007 werd op 158 VWO scholen het eindexamen filosofie afgenomen, waaraan 2861 leerlingen deelnamen. Bovendien is het sinds 2000 ook mogelijk om op de HAVO eindexamen filosofie te doen. In 2007 gebeurde dat op 57 scholen, waaraan 801 (...) leerlingen deelnamen.1 Dit zijn voor een ieder die liefde voor filosofie heeft natuurlijk spectaculaire gebeurtenissen. (shrink)