In a previous post, we saw that Keith Lehrer raised a variation of his famous "truetemp" counterexample to the sufficiency of Plantinga's proposed analysis of warrant. Here is Plantinga's reply:
"As I see it, Truetemp has a defeater for his belief in the fact that (as he no doubt thinks) he is constructed like other human beings and none of them has this ability; furthermore, everyone he meets scoffs or smiles at his claim that he does have it. Truetemp's defeater means that his belief does not meet the conditions for warrant; hence (contra Lehrer) he doesn't constitute a counterexample to my analysis of warrant." (Warrant in Contemporary Epistemology, p. 333).
So Plantinga's reply is that Truetemp's warrant-basic belief is defeated by an inference from two other things he knows: that (i) he is like other people and that (ii) these other people don't have a similar ability to form accurate beliefs about their own temperature in the basic way. He also takes the fact that others scoff and smile at him (presumably in a contemptuous or condescending or incredulous way) to constitute, or at least partially constitute, a defeater for his belief.
Now if you're like me, you're having a hard time seeing how this reply fits with other things Plantinga says. But here's the most significant worry I have with Plantinga's reply to Lehrer: how does this reply fit with his account of warranted theistic belief, and with his model of warranted Christian belief? If holding a belief you take to be warranted in the basic way can be defeated merely by becoming aware that most other people lack a belief-forming mechanism or process you took yourself to have, and/or by the fact that others sneer at you or smile condescendingly at you for claiming to have such a faculty, then since most people don't form Christian belief in the basic way, and since most Christians are scoffed at at least some time in their lives, then how are we to avoid concluding that theistic and Christian belief, even if originally warrant-basic, is likewise defeated?
Here's another worry. In "On Being Evidentially Challenged", and in Warranted Christian Belief, Plantinga argues against Draper's evidential argument from evil by saying that the independent warrant enjoyed by warrant-basic belief -- and thus warrant-basic theistic and Christian belief -- is sufficient, all by itself, to defeat probabilistic inferences -- e.g., probabilistic arguments from evil -- against it. But he seems to have rejected this sort of response in his reply to Lehrer, as he's allowing there that the probabilistic inference from
(i) I'm like other people.
(ii) Most other people don't have the ability to form reliable beliefs about their temperature in the basic way.
(iii) Therefore, I probably don't have the ability to form reliable beliefs about my temperature in the basic way.
defeats a belief that was originally warrant-basic.
So here again, Plantinga's reply to Lehrer appears to be in direct conflict with a key plank in his defense of warranted Christian belief.
Review of Draper and Schellenberg (eds.), <I>Renewing Philosophy of Religion: Exploratory Essays</I>
Adam Green reviews the book for NDPR.
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