Sunday, September 27, 2009

Baldwin and Thune's Recent Paper

Here's yet another example of the relevance of the current epistemology of disagreement debate to issues in philosophy of religion. Erik Baldwin and Michael Thune offer a defeater for properly basic belief in God in "The Epistemological Limits of Experience-Based Exclusive Religious Belief", Religious Studies 44 (2008), pp. 445-455.[1]

Here's the abstract:

Alvin Plantinga and other philosophers have argued that exclusive religious belief can be rationally held in response to certain experiences – independently of inference to other beliefs, evidence, arguments, and the like – and thus can be ‘properly basic’. We think that this is possible only until the believer acquires the defeater we develop in this paper, a defeater which arises from an awareness of certain salient features of religious pluralism. We argue that, as a consequence of this defeater, continued epistemic support for exclusive religious belief will require the satisfaction of non-basic epistemic criteria (such as evidence and/or argumentation). But then such belief will no longer be properly basic. If successful, we will have presented a challenge not only to Plantinga's position, but also to the general view (often referred to as ‘reformed epistemology’) according to which exclusive religious belief can be properly basic.

Worth a read!

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[1] Btw, Thune's dissertation is on the epistemology of disagreement. He argues for a moderate view, according to which disagreement between two epistemic peers regarding some proposition P partially defeats each peer's justification for believing that P.

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