Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones but Atheological Defeaters For My Properly Basic Theistic Beliefs Will Never Hurt Me

In light of the recent blog "war" that has erupted, I have decided to publish my Senior Thesis here; on my blog. This is the entirety of my paper and represents the culmination of not only a semester's work but in all actuality a year. Because the last third represents conclusions that I worked out during our epistemology class and seminar on the Incarnation prior to Senior Thesis Seminar. I hope that this helps produce more light for the ongoing discussion. And yes the title of this blog post is actually the title of my paper. The sections in bold were a requirement for writing the paper. Also I have deep thankfulness and indebtedness toward Dr. Thomas Crisp, and to a lesser extent Dr. Douglas Geivett. They helped me a great deal on this paper. But all the mistakes within this paper I attribute solely to Dr. Greg Ten Elshof, due to the fact that he was on sabbatical that semester and was not available to help me. I also publicly dedicated this paper to my wife Sarah, who had only in fact been my bride for about a month when I presented this paper. Enjoy.

Alvin Plantinga and Philip Quinn had a productive dialogue that was published over several years during the eighties and early nineties concerning Plantinga’s reformed epistemology. This paper will be concerned with certain parts of that dialogue, more specifically the sections dealing with the rationality of defeaters for an intellectually sophisticated adult theist. In response to atheistic defeaters of properly basic theistic belief Plantinga proposes that basic beliefs could have more warrant than any of the alleged defeaters brought against them. If this is true then properly basic theistic belief is an intrinsic defeater for atheological defeaters rendering argumentation against said defeaters superfluous in regards to the rationality of theistic belief. My project is to determine whether or not this aspect of Plantinga’s epistemology can withstand the objections brought against it by Quinn. I think that Quinn’s objections are adequately answered in light of Plantinga’s example of memorial beliefs.

The first article in this discussion was published by Plantinga and dealt with the question of whether or not theistic belief was properly basic. [i] He was writing in response to the commonly held belief that theistic beliefs cannot be rightly or properly basic and tries to show that they in fact can be. The commonly held view is that to believe God exists in a basic way would be groundless. In order to rationally believe God exists a good reason or grounding needs to be given, like an inductive or deductive argument, but Plantinga, along with many reformed thinkers, rejects this claim. In order to set up his argument Plantinga gives us a few examples of what are generally considered to be properly basic:

(1) I see a tree

(2) I had breakfast this morning

(3) That person is angry

These three examples are demonstrations of three different sorts of properly basic beliefs: perceptual, memorial, and the state of affairs of another mind. In regards to the validity of properly basic beliefs Moorean common sense philosophy will be for the most part assumed in this paper. The reason being that it is an instance of agreement between Quinn and Plantinga.

In order to correctly understand what a properly basic belief is the two parts of the phrase must be defined. In order for a belief to be basic it must be a belief that is held only upon the warrant of the belief itself. If it is based upon any other beliefs then it is no longer basic. In order for a belief to be properly basic the belief needs to be basic in the aforementioned way but it must also be a belief that really has enough warrant of its own to be believed rationally without being based on other beliefs or arguments. Even though E=mc2 is a warranted belief that many people have from a young age none of those people would be proper in holding it as a basic belief. E=mc2 is not basic for anyone. The majority of people do not believe it because they can see its truth but because they trust the scientific authority from which it is derived. Einstein formulated this theorem through years of mathematical and scientific rigor. It did not simply come to him. It is based upon many other beliefs. But Einstein’s belief that 1+1=2 is rightly basic. He does not base that belief on anything except for its obvious truthfulness along with the rest of humanity.

In stark contrast a man who suffers from severe paranoia holds it as basic that the government steals all his left socks. But even though this belief is very clearly basic, he literally has no evidence at all to lend it warrant. In point of fact none of his left socks are even missing. This would be an improper belief for him even if it were not basic. But in fact the only thing that causes this belief is cognitive malfunction.

It is also important to note that properly basic beliefs are not just appropriate to be held in a basic way but I believe that they probably could not be successfully argued for or based upon other beliefs. Just like the three sorts of properly basic beliefs mentioned above, how exactly would a successful argument for the reliability of memory or perception play out? To put it another way basing your properly basic beliefs upon arguments or other forms of justification would be improper. It would not lend them warrant. If this is true then properly basic beliefs are also necessarily basic beliefs. This may or may not cause problems for Plantinga. It depends on the validity of Natural theology and also whether or not a belief could be properly basic and yet still have warrant due to other evidences and argument, but this could take up an entire paper in itself and Quinn does not pursue this line of argument.

Now Plantinga wants to show that basic theistic belief is not really any different from the aforementioned sorts of properly basic beliefs. After presenting those examples he discusses why it is that we consider them rational beliefs and yet we either cannot or do not need to argue for them. They are not groundless; warrant is conferred on them through the very experience. In the case of (1) experiencing a tree visually is what rightly causes or warrants that particular belief.

The concept of warrant as defined by Plantinga is very much in reaction to one of the perennial Philosophic issues of the twentieth century: Gettier examples. Warrant is that which when added to true belief constitutes knowledge. [ii] In other words Plantinga has replaced the Justification in JTB with a capital W. Warranted True Belief is how Plantinga has redefined one conception of knowledge. The intricacies of this theory have filled up entire books and only a brief explication of some of the more important aspects of Plantinga’s epistemology will be necessary.

What is most important to note about warrant is in the way that it differs from justification. Warrant is basically that which truly and rightly justifies your true belief. It is not just a reason for your true belief; it is in fact the true and right cause of your true belief. Plantinga’s favorite phrase to describe warrant is positive epistemic status. [iii] This is a very important distinction because justification qua justification can be provided by individuals seeking the JTB brand of knowledge in all sorts of ways, but as Gettier demonstrated JTB is not always knowledge. If the reason for or the cause of your true belief is in someway defective then it seems clear that knowledge has not been obtained because there is nothing substantial for your true belief to be grounded in or based on. Unfortunately though the concepts of warrant and justification are still so closely related, they can still fall prey to Gettier examples. [iv] So Plantinga is still on the Gettier inspired project of coming up with the right amendment of JTB and it is clear that his conception of Warrant is playing a significant role in this amending process.

Warrant or lack thereof is a direct consequence of the way in which a belief is formed. Warranted belief formations can only occur in a knower who is functioning properly under the right circumstances. In order to demonstrate this concept here is a simple example of WTB, which would undoubtedly gain Plantinga’s approval. A young man, let’s call him Thomas, sees a tree. There is nothing wrong with the way Thomas’ belief forming faculties are working at this moment and he comes to the belief that he sees a tree. He was in the appropriate circumstances for his belief to be true. Thomas was appeared to treely. And his belief was formed by properly functioning faculties. Thomas’ brain did not tell him that he had in fact been witness to a panda mating ritual but had in fact seen a tree.

It is important to note that in the example of Thomas there are actually two beliefs at work. A properly basic belief and a properly based belief, based of course in the properly basic one. The properly basic belief at play is the same as proposition 1. The properly based belief is

(4) Such things as trees exist.

This proposition cannot be said to be basic because it is immediately inferred from the truth of proposition (1). So it receives its warrant from being properly based in proposition (1).

So then the question remains how the proposition

(5) God exists
is properly basic. Plantinga argues that belief (5) may not itself be properly basic even to theists but such beliefs as
(6) God is speaking to me

(7) God disapproves of my actions

clearly are basic for many theists. And it is from these properly basic beliefs that it may be said belief in proposition (5) is directly and immediately derived. So a theist has an experience of proposition (6) and without even thinking about it infers the truth of proposition (5). In other words Plantinga has admitted that theistic belief in the form of (5) is not properly basic but is in fact properly based. But propositions (6) and (7) are at the very least basic even if they are not warranted enough to be considered rightly basic. So theistic beliefs or beliefs entailing theism are basic. And in fact they are basic in the same way that propositions (1)-(3) are basic. And if propositions (1)-(3) can be considered properly basic then it seems as if theists are at the very least rational to believe that propositions (6) and (7) have positive epistemic status. Because if (6) and (7) are truly warranted then they are warranted on the same grounds as (1)-(3), unless it could be shown that theism is produced by faulty faculties and not the belief formations of properly functioning individuals.

Quinn took it upon himself to respond to this aspect of Plantinga’s epistemology in the second article of this discussion with a very interesting counterexample: the intellectually sophisticated adult theist. [v] In an article during the late 90s William Hasker assessed this entire dialogue and determined that this was the most important disagreement between Quinn and Plantinga. [vi] I heartily agree otherwise I would have picked another point of disagreement between them.

Quinn allows, for argument sake, that Plantinga’s examples of properly basic theistic beliefs of the sort expressed by (6) and (7) are most certainly basic for some theists. But they could not have this epistemic status for an intellectually sophisticated adult theist. The reason is that theists who are not aware of defeaters for theism could take propositions such as 6 and 7 as basic. Quinn says:
As I see it, an intellectually sophisticated adult in our culture would have to be epistemically negligent not to have very substantial reasons for thinking that what [God does not exist] expresses is true. After all, non-trivial atheological reasons, ranging from various problems of evil to naturalistic theories according to which theistic belief is illusory or merely projective, are a pervasive, if not obtrusive, component of the rational portion of our cultural heritage. [vii]

Theists like children or anyone else who has never encountered any of the various critical arguments to either explain away theistic belief projectively or show incoherence within classical theism like any of the alleged arguments from evil.

But an intellectually sophisticated adult theist (who shall be referred to as James Porter, or J.P. for short, from here on out) would very likely be aware of all these defeaters. Quinn claims that the potential defeaters that are posed by these atheological arguments should have more by way of warrant for J.P. than the proposition (5). Propositions such as

(8) There are 1013 turps of evil is incompatible with the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, and omni benevolent God

(9) Theistic belief is explained by wish fulfillment

So according to Quinn the difference between J.P. and my grandmother is that my grandmother is able to believe propositions (6) and (7) in a basic way, not because she is not intelligent but because she has not been exposed to the kinds of defeaters that J.P. is exposed to on a regular basis. Since he has evidence that, from his point of view, highly disconfirms the truth of proposition (5) then he cannot take beliefs (6) and (7) as properly basic. But there is no evidence that disconfirms Grandma’s belief in (5). She is not a part of an intellectually rigorous community that works with deductive and inductive arguments in an attempt to analyze and defend grand philosophical systems. The only thing that even remotely resembles this sort of community is her Sunday school class and they are all obviously theists of the exact same variety.

Plantinga responds to this article with another article where he brings up the idea of an intrinsic defeater-defeater through the example of memorial beliefs. [viii] Plantinga explains that Quinn has set up the problem as follows:

…suppose I take some proposition as basic, but have substantial evidence from other things I believe for some defeater of this proposition—a proposition incompatible with it, let’s say. Then (according to [Quinn]) I am irrational if I continue to accept the proposition in question, unless I also have good evidence for the falsehood of that defeater. So if I accept a proposition p, but believe or know other things that constitute strong evidence for some defeater q of p, then, says [Quinn], if I am not to be irrational in continuing to accept p as basic, I must have a reason for thinking q false—a reason that is stronger than the reasons I have for thinking q true. [ix]

There are generally considered to be two kinds of defeaters: undercutting defeaters and rebutting defeaters. But here Plantinga introduces a new dichotomy of defeaters: extrinsic defeaters and intrinsic defeaters. An extrinsic defeater would be the more typical kind of rebutting defeater one would expect. Such as providing evidence against propositions (8) and (9) in order to show that they are in fact not true or an undercutting defeater where you show that an argument is incoherent because of logical contradictions.

In other words what we would expect to see happen is exactly like the situation that Plantinga has explicated above, the same situation that Quinn set up in his previous article where then Plantinga would respond with an extrinsic defeater for Quinn’s counterexample. And what we would expect is for Plantinga to supply some evidence for his view or incoherence in Quinn’s argument. But instead Plantinga poses a question, a question, which now leads us to the definition of an intrinsic defeater.

The question is, instead of providing a defeater that is unrelated to the proposition p in order to defend it against the defeater q, what if p itself acts as a defeater for q? This would be an intrinsic defeater because it uses the strength of the warrant of the belief as a defeater-defeater. In order to argue for this new kind of defeater Plantinga gives an example:

I am applying to the National Endowment for the Humanities for a fellowship; I write a letter to a colleague, trying to bribe him to write the Endowment a glowing letter on my behalf; he indignantly refuses and sends the letter to my chairman. The letter disappears from the chairman’s office under mysterious circumstances. I have a motive for stealing it; I have the opportunity to do so; and I have been known to do such things in the past. Furthermore an extremely reliable member of the department claims to have seen me furtively entering the chairman’s office at about the time when the letter must have been stolen. The evidence against me is very strong; my colleagues reproach me for such underhanded behavior and treat me with evident distaste. The facts of the matter, however, are that I didn’t steal the letter and in fact spent the entire afternoon in question on a solitary walk in the woods; furthermore I clearly remember spending that afternoon walking in the woods. [x]

Now Degenerate Plantinga (D.P. from here on) holds to the following proposition basically:

(10) I was alone in the woods all that afternoon, and I did not steal the letter.

D.P. has considerable evidence to the contrary of proposition (10) yet without any way of arguing against the faculty in an extrinsic way he knows that their conclusion is in fact false. And even though the faculty’s conclusion is justified it is not a warranted conclusion for D.P. His belief in (10) has a far greater degree of warrant for him then the evidence he has been presented with that would seemingly prove the contrary.

Now if the evidence included some kind of cognitive condition that D.P. was not aware of then his belief in (10) would no longer be warranted and it would be irrational for him to maintain his disagreement with the faculty. But if it is true that D.P. has nothing wrong with his belief forming faculties, if he is in fact properly functioning, then he is perfectly rational to persist in his belief in (10) despite the good evidence to the contrary.

In the fourth and final article in the dialogue Quinn admits readily that Plantinga’s example has given him good cause to believe in the existence of intrinsic defeaters even though the thought had never occurred to him before. [xi] But he still thinks that the counterexample of J.P. (the intellectually sophisticated adult theist) still works against properly basic theistic belief. His reason for thinking this is that in the case of D.P. he has much more warrant for his properly basic belief then the evidence that was leveled against him. But in the case of J.P. the defeaters actually have more warrant than any basic belief in God he could possibly have.

The problem with this reply is that Quinn does not go on to show how the case of J.P. is really fundamentally different from the case of D.P. The two cases are in fact identical, unless you are going to assume that there is something inherently different with a basic belief in God. But this is really begging the question. Besides the fact that the beliefs are directed at different objects they are ultimately grounded in the same thing: warrant producing experiences. Remember that Quinn and Plantinga agree on the rationality of Moorean commonsense epistemology.

Unless Quinn can somehow demonstrate that the experience which grounds beliefs (6) and (7) is significantly different from the belief (10) then by agreeing that D.P. is justified in maintaining his belief by way of an intrinsic defeater he has essentially agreed with Plantinga. Because Plantinga thinks that (10) has the same grounding as (6), (7), and ultimately (5). Quinn does not even try to differentiate the two. He just seems to think that propositions (8) and (9) have more warrant than (5) simply because intellectually sophisticated adults believe that those kinds of propositions have more warrant than properly basic theistic beliefs. He never says this and perhaps it is uncharitable for me to attribute this thought to him, but I see no reason within his writings to believe anything besides the fact that he has been conditioned along with countless others to believe that the “hypothesis” of God is something that must be properly based, within a foundationalist epistemology, upon such things as natural theology. But clearly not all individuals who find themselves being characterized as intellectually sophisticated adult theists do think that way. Otherwise this dialogue would not be going on at all.

Now if J.P. has never had a properly basic experience of God then the propositions (6) and (7) will have no warrant at all for him and he must find another way to justify his theistic beliefs. But Quinn has not specified that. All Quinn has said is that any intellectually sophisticated adult theist has good evidence to disconfirm his belief in God. But D.P. has very good evidence to suppose his belief in (10) to be false. The evidence against him is, to be quite honest, more conclusive than the evidence provided by the problem of evil or any projection theory. Court cases are decided every day in America using only the amount and kind of evidence that is available to everyone involved in the D.P. testimony example. And if D.P. is still warranted to believe his basic proposition (10) then why would a J.P. like person not be able to hold his basic propositions (6) and (7) with the same degree of conviction in spite of much weaker evidence. Of course, Quinn might reply to this that D.P.’s properly basic beliefs in God may have the same weakened status due to their none physical existential nature which would put them all on equal footing again.

I believe that what makes the potential atheological defeaters mentioned in this paper subordinate to the evidence provided against D.P. in terms of warrant is not because their objects are existential or immaterial but because they are simply logical or psychological possibilities that cannot be demonstrated. At least not in the same sense that the propositions which cause the kind of properly basic beliefs that have been discussed so far.

But if J.P. really never has had the kind of experience that would create beliefs of the sort described by (6) and (7) then it would be like a blind man who has never seen colors. No matter how many times you tell a blind man that his pants are yellow and look ridiculous what reason does he even have to care? He has no concept of yellow because he has never experienced any color at all. But does the blind man assume that everyone else is lying or malfunctioning about the existence of such things as colors? He has been designed to see but unfortunately cannot. He is predisposed to believe in seeing even though he lacks the ability. He can feel this inadequacy in himself. And Plantinga uses this sense of blindness towards God as one of the central aspects of his epistemology in the epic Warranted Christian Belief. That is not to say that J.P. is not a true theist but Christians who are living in right relation to God generally claim to be able to experience him in a basic way. And it is these beliefs that Plantinga is speaking of with propositions (6) and (7).

One of the reasons why the testimony example works so well is that what is basic to D.P.’s current belief set is the belief that yesterday he was in the woods instead of stealing a letter. As long as he is functioning properly there is no reason for him to doubt that he did not steal that letter. His properly basic beliefs have automatically defeated any argument that could be leveled against him from the faculty, unless their argument involves expert medical opinion proving that D.P. is in some way creating these beliefs from some kind of noetic malfunction. If they cannot, then no matter how many people are convinced that D.P. did in fact steal the letter he is perfectly warranted to believe that they are wrong. Anyone in his situation would be, as long as they are properly functioning.

It is for this very same reason that individuals like Plantinga and myself are so heartily convinced that properly basic theistic beliefs are a rational basis for the warrant of belief in God. Sometimes theistic beliefs just seem for the all the world as if they were imposed upon our faculties in the same way those beliefs about the external world are imposed upon us.

It is important to note that no where does Quinn say that theism is irrational. He believes that even though propositions (8) and (9) may highly disconfirm proposition (5) the total evidence actually shows that (5) is indeed true. He claims that things like Natural theology could lend enough warrant to theistic belief. But it is clear that theistic belief for Quinn is different enough from memorial and other experiential beliefs that he is not convinced they could provide an intrinsic defeater. Which is why he thinks that the rational theist must resort to extrinsic defeaters. But yet again he gives no reason for this difference.

Thomas Morris’ book The Logic of God Incarnate is a great example of the more traditional approach to defeaters of Christian theism. But he is at least moderately friendly to Plantinga’s epistemology. At the end of his chapter on Nicodemus’ Modus Tollens Morris begins to speak more specifically about the complexities of rational belief in regards to a broadly construed reformed epistemology. But there is one section I find particularly interesting within this short discussion of reformed epistemology, which I think is very relevant to our discussion between Quinn and Plantinga. [xii]

Morris does not think that there is anything wrong with the formulation of beliefs in the divine that come naturally to one on the basis of experience, or in the case of little children, simply being told that Jesus really was God. These beliefs do not usually stay in such an underdeveloped state but are strengthened over time through more experience and increased knowledge of the church and the scriptures. But Morris contends that this rationality can only be maintained in the face of a serious objection against a belief if an adequate response can be formulated to combat the objection.

Here he and Quinn would be in strong agreement. Quinn would of course allow that some defeaters can be ultimately defeated by accumulating enough evidence such that your total positive evidence outweighs your negative evidence. Whether Morris believes this is unclear. But what is important to note is how both of them think very strongly that at some point theism stops being merely basic, even properly so, and at the very least becomes tested or tried in some way. If it cannot pass the trials then you are in some way irrational in maintaining your belief at the same level it was previously held as a youth or before becoming like J.P.

Would the Apostles’ belief in the incarnation have remained rational if a logical objection to the incarnation had been brought against them, which they understood but could not answer? I think that the answer to this question must be yes. The strength of conviction that was produced by being with the Christ before and after his crucifixion, experiencing his teachings, and witnessing his death and resurrection seems to be the sort of belief that cannot and should not be reduced because someone may be able to demonstrate logical incoherence.

Of course if an actual incoherence could be demonstrated then what the Apostles experienced must have been inaccurate or misleading in some way. But why would one of the Apostles ever believe that an actual incoherence had been produced? The kind of experiences they had which produced their belief in Christ’s divinity seem like they would be sufficient for continuing in that belief rationally no matter what was presented to them.

I bring up this case to show how more complicated questions of religious epistemology could be solved in similar and equally warranted ways. The Apostles are an interesting group because they represent something different than contemporary simple theists and theists of the J.P. variety. Obviously, I do not know what the Apostles would have actually said or done in this situation. But I do think that whether or not they would have consciously followed the argument form I am about to explicate, it could most certainly have been open to them because of its simple and forceful nature.

This kind of rationality is similar to the G.E. Moore Shift. No matter what kind of argument has been brought against the Apostles they could always have shifted the argument just like Moore does with skepticism. Here is a classic example of the shift from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

“1. If I cannot tell the difference between waking and dreaming, then I cannot be sure that I have a body.

2. I cannot tell the difference between waking and dreaming.

3. Therefore, I cannot be sure that I have a body

Employing the G. E. Moore shift, we rearrange the propositions of the skeptic’s argument, thus:

1. If I cannot tell the difference between waking and dreaming, then I cannot be sure that I have a body.

2. I am sure that I have a body.

3. Therefore, I can tell the difference between waking and dreaming.”

It is not immediately obvious that this style of argument could be used to preserve rational belief in the incarnation because the claims being leveled against Jesus’ incarnation are of incoherence. They are arguments from logic and not from a lack of certainty. But despite this immediate observation look at the following argument:

1. If it is impossible for a fully human nature to be joined with a fully divine nature then Jesus was not God.

2. I know that it is impossible for a fully human nature to be joined with a fully divine nature.

3. Therefore, Jesus was not God.

Now look at how successful this same argument becomes to support the rationality of the Apostles after it has gone through the G.E. Moore Shift:

1. If it is impossible for a fully human nature to be joined with a fully divine nature then Jesus was not God.

2. I know that Jesus was God.

3. Therefore it is possible for a fully human nature to be joined with a fully divine nature.

It might seem to be a more subtle form of begging the question at first. But in fact if you look at the new argument after the Moore Shift no logical fallacy has been committed. It is a valid argument form. The disciples really knew that Jesus was God based upon their experiences with him so then why would they need to come up with a defeater for an argument of incoherence against the incarnation? Why not think that there must be something wrong with the argument or its premises? This is exactly what the Moore shift accomplishes and I contend that this upholds the rationality of the Apostles in the face of an undefeated charge of incoherence, which clearly disagrees with Morris and Quinn on this area of religious epistemology. But if we allow for the grounding of properly basic beliefs in experiences then why would the Apostles, including Paul, not be justified in this form of argumentation? Again if Quinn or Morris cannot show that there really is something fundamentally unsound about grounding belief in God in properly basic experiences then the apostles are just as warranted as D.P. in their beliefs.

In conclusion I think this discussion has clearly shown that Quinn’s objection to Plantinga’s reformed epistemology was easily overcome because of Moorean common sense and the proper basicality of memorial beliefs. Because of that it seems as if the way philosophers of religion have typically viewed theistic belief needs some serious work. I did not justify Plantinga’s epistemology by any stretch but I did show that Quinn’s counterexample ultimately showed no difference between basic theistic beliefs and other basic beliefs. This does not prove that theistic belief is properly basic but it certainly shows that Quinn’s counter example had a few serious flaws. As long as Quinn allows for the warrant of common sense properly basic beliefs then he needs to allow at least for the possibility that properly basic theistic beliefs could exist for anybody.
________________________________________

[i] Plantinga, Alvin. (1981). Is Belief in God Properly Basic? Nous, 15, pp. 41-51.

[ii] ---. Warrant: The Current Debate. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. p. 3-4

[iii] ---. p. 5

[iv] ---. Warranted Christian Belief. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. p. 156-159

[v] Quinn, Phillip. (October 1985). In Search of the Foundations of Theism. Faith and Philosophy, 2,(4), pp. 468-486.

[vi] Hasker, William. (January 1998). The Foundations of Theism: Scoring the Quinn-Plantinga Debate. Faith and Philosophy, 15, (1), pp. 52-67.

[vii] Quinn, Phillip. (October 1985). In Search of the Foundations of Theism. Faith and Philosophy, 2, (4), pp. 481.

[viii] Plantinga, Alvin. (July 1986). The Foundations of Theism: A Reply. Faith and Philosophy, 3, (3), pp. 298-313.

[ix] ---. pp. 310.

[x] ---. pp. 310.

[xi] Zagzebski, Linda, ed. Rational Faith: Catholic Responses to Reformed Epistemology. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1993. pp. 14-47.

[xii] Morris, Thomas V. The Logic of God Incarnate. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2001. p. 201

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post, I did my masters on a similar topic.

    I note you use E=MC2 as an example of a non basic belief because its based on testimony. As I read Plantinga he thinks testimonial beliefs are basic, of course to be warranted they need to originate via a testimonial chain back in something that is not testimonial either another persons observation or argument or something, but the person who believes them does not need to know the argument and does not believe on the basis of such an argument and hence it’s basic. I think Plantinga says as much in his response to Evan Fales.

    I also am unsure how this claim on your part fits with the Thomas Morris example which seems to provisionally at least allow testimonial beliefs as basic.

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