The Epistemology of Belief
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This they can defend by means of examples in which non-Ockhamist thinking is judged not to be justified. So even if the whole of evidentialism is not defended, the Ockhamist fragment of it may be. Not surprisingly the reliance of non-theist philosophers on evidentialism has been criticised. First there is an ad hominem.
This might be met in either of two ways. Or it could be argued that deriving an epistemology from a wide range of examples is evidence for it. To be sure this is far from conclusive evidence. But even a less than full belief in an epistemological thesis which showed theism to be unjustified would be damaging. Theistic philosophers may, of course, grant evidentialism and even grant its hegemony, but defend theism by providing the case which evidentialists demand.
Here the details of the arguments are not within the scope of an article on epistemology. What is of interest is the kind of argument put forward. See Craig , Braine , Miller To show the justifiability of full belief that there is a God it is sufficient a to have a deductively valid argument from premisses which are themselves justifiably held with full belief unless defeated by an objection and b to have considered and defeated all available objections to either the premisses, the conclusion or any intermediate steps.
Some of the premisses of these arguments are said to be self-evident, that is, obvious once you think about it.
2. The Rejection of Enlightenment Evidentialism
And that raises a further epistemological problem. Many natural theologians have, however, abandoned the search for demonstrative arguments, appealing instead to ones which are probable, either in the sense of having weight but being inconclusive or in the sense of having a mathematical probability assigned to them. In a popular exposition of his argument Swinburne appeals instead to an inference to the best explanation Swinburne ; see also Forrest While there are differences of approach, the common theme is that there is evidence for theism but evidence of a probable rather than a conclusive kind, justifying belief but not full belief.
First he quite clearly rejected the hegemony of epistemology.
Epistemology of Religious Belief: Wittgenstein, Grammar and the Contemporary World
His procedure was to examine how in fact people made up their minds on non-religious issues and argue that by the same standards religious beliefs were justified. As a result he qualified evidentialism by insisting that an implicit and cumulative argument could lead to justified certainty.
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See Mitchell One difficulty with this interpretation is that even a highly probable argument differs from a demonstration in that the former is vulnerable to probabilistic counter-arguments. Thus a probabilistic version of the Argument from Evil might subsequently reduce the probability from Newman claims that human beings are not like that when it comes to those beliefs which form part of religious faith. In such cases the only available states are those of full belief and full disbelief or, perhaps, full belief, and lack of full belief.
If Newman is right then evidentialism is slightly wrong. In this way epistemology is relativised to language games, themselves related to forms of life, and the one used for assessing religious claims is less stringent than evidentialism. Here there seems to be both an autonomy thesis and an incommensurability thesis. The autonomy thesis tells us that religious utterances are only to be judged as justified or otherwise by the standards implicit in the religious form of life, and this may be further restricted to Christianity or Hinduism, or any other religion Malcolm The incommensurability thesis tells us that religious utterances are unlike scientific or metaphysical claims and so we are confusing different uses of language if we judge religious utterances by the standards of science or metaphysics Phillips Stress on the autonomy thesis brings Wittgensteinian fideism close to the fideism of many religious conservatives, but stress on the incommensurability thesis brings it close to the extreme liberal position of Braithwaite , namely that religion is about attitudes not facts, which would, of course, be rejected by religious conservatives.
So Wittgensteinian fideism is only appropriate for such religions as Zen Buddhism and for some, relatively recent, liberal strands of Judaism and Christianity which have rejected the traditional metaphysical commitment as in Cupitt That modified account would cohere with the historical fact of the metaphysical commitment of that religious tradition. Thus Wittgensteinian fideism would have been qualified out of existence.
Even if you reject Wittgensteinian fideism you might still take a lesson from it. For it must surely be granted that religious utterances are not made in a purely intellectual way. Their entanglement with commitment to a way of life and their emotional charge might help to explain the fact, if it is one, that those who take religion seriously, whether believers or not, do not in fact have a continuous range of degrees of confidence but operate instead with full belief or full disbelief.
For, normally, emotionally charged beliefs are either full on or full off, and in abnormal cases tend to be divided rather than partial. Thus, confronted with conflicting evidence about whether your affection is reciprocated you are far less likely to suspend judgement than to oscillate between full belief and full disbelief. Likewise it seems more normal to oscillate between full belief in God in moments of crisis and full disbelief when things go well than to suspend judgement at all times. This ties in with the Newmanian modification of evidentialism, mentioned above.
An influential contemporary rejection of evidentialism is reformed epistemology , due to Wolterstorff and Plantinga As Plantinga develops it in his paper , beliefs are warranted without Enlightenment-approved evidence provided they are a grounded, and b defended against known objections. Such beliefs may then themselves be used as evidence for other beliefs. But what grounding amounts to could be debated. Later, Plantinga proposed an account of warrant as proper functioning. See Plantinga a. While the details of grounding might be controversial it may be assumed that reformed epistemologists assert that ordinary religious experiences of awe, gratitude, contrition, etc.
Such grounded beliefs are warranted provided they can be defended against known objections. They can then be used as evidence for further religious beliefs. Thus if religious experience grounds the belief that God has forgiven you for doing what is wrong to other humans beings, then that is evidence for a personal God who acts in a morally upright fashion.
For, it can be argued, only such a God would find anything to forgive in the wrongs you do to your fellow human beings. One difference between reformed epistemology and fideism is that the former requires defence against known objections, whereas the latter might dismiss such objections as either irrelevant or, worse, intellectual temptations. Included in the objections are not only those such as the Argument from Evil that seek to rebut, but arguments from sociology and, more recently, cognitive science that seek to undermine by proposing a naturalistic cause for basic religious beliefs.
This hypersensitivity then explains the human tendency towards supernatural beliefs, undermining the proper basicality of those beliefs. Clark and Barrett suggest that this hypersensitivity could itself be part of the divine plan. An alternative, Bayesian, theistic response would be that HADD exaggerates a properly basic probability for theism that is neither high nor too low prior to further evidence. This justifies a part evidentialist, part reformed, program of assessing the all-things-considered probability resulting from the effect of evidence on this basic probability.
Reformed epistemology could be correct and yet far less significant than its proponents take it to be. That would occur if in fact rather few religious beliefs are grounded in the sorts of ordinary religious experiences most believers have. For it may well be that the beliefs are part of the cause of the experience rather than the other way round Katz Reformed epistemology might be thought of as a modification of evidentialism in which the permissible kinds of evidence are expanded. The difference between reformed epistemology and Enlightenment-style evidentialism is also shown by a consideration of revelation and inspiration.
An evidentialist will consider arguments from the premiss that it is said such and such was revealed or the premiss that so and so claimed to be inspired by God, but a reformed epistemologist might allow as warranted those religious beliefs grounded in the event of revelation or inspiration.
Lecture 3.1 - Two problems in the epistemology of religion
Thus Mavrodes has argued that any belief due to a genuine revelation is warranted, and has discussed several modes of revelation Mavrodes Zagzebski argues that this would have the unacceptable consequence that warrant, and hence knowledge, becomes totally inaccessible either to the person concerned or the community Zagzebski a: — A similar criticism could be made of beliefs grounded in religious experience.
In both cases, the question of whether a belief is genuinely grounded in religious experience or is genuinely grounded in inspiration is one that several religious traditions have paid attention to, with such theories as that of discernment of spirits Murphy, , ch 5. In what might be called "counter-reformed epistemology" it could be allowed that a belief can be warranted if grounded in a religious tradition.
Such a belief would have to be caused in the right sort of way by the right sort of tradition. As in the previous cases we might note that such grounding should be partially accessible to the believer. Rather little work has been done on this extension of reformed epistemology, but the social dimension of warrant has been noted Zagzebski a.
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Religious disagreement is a long-standing problem in philosophy of religion, but in this century there has been great interest in disagreements between theists and atheists as well as the disagreements between followers of various religions. See Kelly , Christensen , Feldman , Kraft , Feldman and Warfield , Christensen and Lackey The problem here is obvious: how can sincere intelligent people disagree? Should not both disputants suspend judgement? To be sure, sometimes those who disagree with you are your intellectual inferiors in some respect. The case of interest, however, is that in which no such inferiority is on public display.
This is referred to as a situation of public epistemic parity. Richard Feldman criticizes the relativist solution to the problem, namely that there is not always a unique reasonable doxastic attitude to a given proposition in a given epistemic situation. He also rejects unargued dismissal, and reaches the conclusion that in situations of epistemic parity disputants should suspend judgement. Typically, not getting the point requires a cognitive blind-spot.
It is not that you know there is a point you cannot grasp, which reasonably requires some deference to those who claim to grasp it. You fail to see there is a point. It is hard to see, though, how this could apply to disputes between two religions that both rely on the role of divine inspiration.
Perhaps the only substitute for unargued dismissal is argued dismissal.
How do you know that what you know is true? That's epistemology
Simplifications 2. The Rejection of Enlightenment Evidentialism 3. Evidentialism Defended 4. Natural theology 5. The Relevance of Newman 6. Wittgensteinian Fideism 7. Reformed Epistemology 8. By analogy, having a reliable espresso maker that produced a good cup of espresso would be more valuable than having an unreliable one that luckily produced a good cup because the reliable one would more likely produce good future cups compared to the unreliable one.
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The value problem is important to assessing the adequacy of theories of knowledge that conceive of knowledge as consisting of true belief and other components. According to Kvanvig , an adequate account of knowledge should resist counterexamples and allow an explanation of the value of knowledge over mere true belief.
guoversprotrast.tk Should a theory of knowledge fail to do so, it would prove inadequate. One of the more influential responses to the problem is that knowledge is not particularly valuable and is not what ought to be the main focus of epistemology. Instead, epistemologists ought to focus on other mental states, such as understanding. The nature of this distinction has been disputed by various philosophers; however, the terms may be roughly defined as follows:. A priori knowledge is a way of gaining knowledge without the need of experience. In Bruce Russell's article "A Priori Justification and Knowledge"  he says that it is "knowledge based on a priori justification," 1 which relies on intuition and the nature of these intuitions.
A priori knowledge is often contrasted with posteriori knowledge, which is knowledge gained by experience. A way to look at the difference between the two is through an example. Bruce Russell gives two propositions in which the reader decides which one he believes more. Option A: All crows are birds.