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Religious Experience in Analytic Philosophy FFD Zagreb, 15-19 April 2013

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Title: Religious Experience in Analytic Philosophy FFD Zagreb, 15-19 April 2013


1
Religious Experience in Analytic Philosophy
FFD Zagreb, 15-19 April 2013
  • Analytic Philosophy today
  • Religious experience and its uses in argument
  • Richard Swinburne RE in the cumulative case
    argument
  • Alvin Plantinga RE delivers properly basic
    beliefs
  • William P. Alston RE as social doxastic practice
  • Comparisons
  • The framework and rationality criteria of RE
  • Summary discussion
  • Prof.Dr.Dr. Winfried Löffler
  • University of Innsbruck
  • Department of Christian Philosophy
  • Karl-Rahner-Platz 1
  • A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria
  • winfried.loeffler_at_uibk.ac.at
  • www.uibk.ac.at/philtheol/loeffler

2
1. Analytic Philosophy today
  • Analytic Philosophy not a bundle of positions,
    rather a style of philosophizing clarity,
    analysis of language, application of logic,
    structures of argument (Löffler 1994 2007)
  • 1930-1960s Strong anti-metaphysical,
    irreligious stream in Analytic Philosophy.
    Examples
  • Russell irrational, since not enough empirical
    evidence
  • Carnap Vienna Circle cognitively meaningless,
    since unverifiable
  • Popper falsificationism unfalsifiable, hence
    (at least) un-scientific
  • Reaction of many philosophers theologians
    religious claims are not cognitive, but rather
    expressions of feelings of life, moral
    commitments and/or ideals. ?Non-cognitivism,
    theological anti-realism
  • 1970s till today Return of analytic metaphysics
    philosophy of religion. Cognitivism
    theological realism
  • New Atheism (my lecture 2012) is (partly) a
    reaction to it

3
2. Religious experience RE and its
uses in argument
  • For many people, a central argument. For them,
    the rationality of belief stands falls with RE
    ( their own RE or reports of others)
  • I know that simply from my RE sometimes used as
    killer-argument, end of debates (opposition
    seems neither possible nor decent!)
  • On the other hand common objections of
    projection, wishful thinking,
    self-suggestion, product of group-dynamics
  • Even religious groups are suspicious against
    too-bold RE potentially destructive. (See
    letters of St. Paul (unordered speaking in
    tongues prophecies), Martin Luther against
    fanatics, multiple checks of miracles in
    Catholic church)
  • Neglected topic in philosophy for decades.
    Swinburne, Plantinga, Alston contributed to
    revive it. They treat RE similar to perception

4
2. Religious experience RE and its
uses in argument (cont.d)
  • In what follows, purely phenomenological
    observations distinctions. The question of
    veridicality or justification is bracketed for
    the moment.
  • 2.1 RE, ordinary and extraordinary
  • Ordinary RE - events within the usual course of
    things, - repeatable and in principle
    explainable, - yet with religious
    significance
  • Examples nature, encounter love, birth and
    death, danger rescue, sickness recovery,
    suffering and its integration
  • Extraordinary RE - beyond the usual course of
    things, - not repeatableExamples visions,
    miracles, extremely improbable healings weather
    changes
  • Various descriptions of extraordinary RE
    unexplainable? breaking the laws of nature?
    extremely improbable, yet naturally
    explainable? ? Not our topic here

5
2. Religious experience RE and its
uses in argument (cont.d)
  • 2.2 RE, publicly and privately accessible
  • Publicly accessible RE - people in the same
    situation make the same RE - (e.g.
    public miracles)
  • Privately accessible RE - accessible to one
    person / little group only -
    others may only conclude from reports or
    behavior
  • Presumption Ordinary RE seems (typically) to be
    privately accessible only e.g. two persons are
    exposed to the same grand mountain panorama, only
    one experiences it as religiously significant.

6
2. Religious experience RE and its
uses in argument (cont.d)
  • 2.3 A typology of RE
  • (C. Franks Davis, The Evidential Force of
    Religious Experience (1989)) Again a mere
    phenomenological description beyond the question
    of truth/justif.And across religions, not only
    Christian religious experience.
  • Interpretative RE - crucial situations of life,
    interpreted religiously - (e.g. important
    decisions seen as lead by God
    sickness seen as
    compassion with Christ, )
  • Quasi-sensual RE - visions, auditions,
    dreams, touches, levitations -
    rich or poor content gods with communication,
    images (fire, last
    judgment), pure sensual content (light)
  • Revelation experiences - impression of a
    directly acquired, certain conviction
    - typically quick, unannounced, coming from
    outside

7
2. Religious experience RE and its
uses in argument (cont.d)
  • 2.3 A typology of RE (cont.d)
  • Renovation / Regeneration experiences
    - refresh earlier religious orientations
    crucial situations of life, - may
    come silently, gradually or in a storm
  • Numinous RE - experience of a holy reality
    as it is in itself, - i.e. no special
    relation to the man (loving, guiding)
    - content often ineffable, indescribable
    expression in art
  • Mystical RE - experience of a happyfying
    uniting with some ultimate reality
    - typically freedom from space, time,
    individual ego

8
2. Religious experience RE and its
uses in argument (cont.d)
  • 2.4 Inferential and evidential arguments
    from RE
  • Question If there is RE, what might follow from
    it? How could RE function as an argument-basis?
    ?Two patterns
  • Inferential argument from RE
  • - RE is seen as a phenomenon in need of
    (causal) explanation
  • - the existence of God and his action is
    proposed as best causal explanation
  • - i.e., an argument primarily from metaphysics
    / philosophy of science.
  • Evidential argument from RE
  • - RE seen as a special form of experience,
    analogous to perception/memory
  • - defense of the reliability of such experience
    (under certain conditions) - analogy my
    perception-that-q is an argument for q. The same
    with RE? - i.e., an argument from epistemology.

9
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10
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11
3. Richard Swinburne RE in the cumulative
case argument
  • 3.1 The idea of a cumulative case argument
  • The Existence of God (1979, revised 1991, 2nd ed.
    2004)
  • General characteristics
  • Traditional deductive theistic arguments
    (St.Thomas, Leibniz,) not viable
  • Reason dubious status of synthetic-apriori
    principles (like the metaphysical principle of
    causality) a world as it is without God is a
    logically consistent idea
  • Treating Gods existence similar to large-scope
    scientific hypotheses (which also dont underlie
    immediate empirical control)
  • Cumulative case argument Reformulation of
    traditional arguments as (weak) inductive
    arguments (C-inductive) bundled in a cumulative
    case, they might provide a P-inductive argument
    for Gods existence (probability gt 0.5). The rest
    is room for personal faith
  • Technical passages, but the core argument can be
    explained non-technically
  • The idea of cumulative case goes back to J.H.
    Newman

12
3.2 A non-technical summary of Swinburnes
argument
  1. Experiences and reports of experience are
    trustworthy if their content is not highly
    improbable for other reasons.
    Principle of Credulity / Testimony
  2. Some religious believers make and/or report
    religious experiences which, if veridical, would
    imply the existence of God.
  3. Hence, (reports of) religious experiences are
    trustworthy if Gods existence is not highly
    improbable for other reasons. from (1),
    (2)
  4. Six general features of the world are most easily
    explained by the exist-ence of God, hence they
    are (weak) evidence for the existence of God (a)
    the existence of a complex physical universe (b)
    order in the univer-se (c) the existence of
    conscious beings (d) the matching between human
    and animal needs and the features of environment
    (e) (perhaps) the occurrence of miracles (f) the
    fine-tuning of basic natural constants.
  5. Gods existence is not inconsistent, i.e. its
    probability is not zero.
  6. The existence and amount of evil is no
    significant evidence against Gods existence (and
    there is no other significant counter-evidence).
  7. Hence, Gods existence is not highly improbable,
    but has an (although small) probability.
    from (4), (5), (6)
  8. Hence, (reports of) religious experience are
    trustworthy, i.e. Gods existence is more
    probable than his non-existence.
    from (3), (7)
  9. This means that its probability is somewhere
    between 0.5 and 1 filling the gap to 1 is a
    matter of personal faith.

13
3.2 A non-technical summary of Swinburnes
argument
  1. Experiences and reports of experience are
    trustworthy if their content is not highly
    improbable for other reasons.
    Principle of Credulity / Testimony
  2. Some religious believers make and/or report
    religious experiences which, if veridical, would
    imply the existence of God.
  3. Hence, (reports of) religious experiences are
    trustworthy if Gods existence is not highly
    improbable for other reasons. from (1),
    (2)
  4. Six general features of the world are most easily
    explained by the exist-ence of God, hence they
    are (weak) evidence for the existence of God (a)
    the existence of a complex physical universe (b)
    order in the univer-se (c) the existence of
    conscious beings (d) the matching between human
    and animal needs and the features of environment
    (e) (perhaps) the occurrence of miracles (f) the
    fine-tuning of basic natural constants.
  5. Gods existence is not inconsistent, i.e. its
    probability is not zero.
  6. The existence and amount of evil is no
    significant evidence against Gods existence (and
    there is no other significant counter-evidence).
  7. Hence, Gods existence is not highly improbable,
    but has an (although small) probability.
    from (4), (5), (6)
  8. Hence, (reports of) religious experience are
    trustworthy, i.e. Gods existence is more
    probable than his non-existence.
    from (3), (7)
  9. This means that its probability is somewhere
    between 0.5 and 1 filling the gap to 1 is a
    matter of personal faith.

14
3.3 The key role of RE in the argument
  • Notice that RE is not a seventh piece of
    C-inductive evidence!
  • The six cumulated C-inductive arguments have only
    the role to show that Gods existence is not
    highly improbable, i.e. that his probability is
    not close to 0. -- See step 9!
  • At closer look, RE bears the burden of proof! --
    See step 3! (RE is trustworthy if Gods
    existence is not highly improbable). The
    principles of credulity / testimony can also be
    applied to RE.
  • RE shifts the burden of proof from the outset,
    RE is credible, as long as Gods existence is not
    improbable
  • Swinburne seems to think of extraordinary RE, and
    experiences which are semantically rich enough to
    be told to others
  • The justification of all believers hangs on the
    RE of some believers
  • i.e., Swinburnes argument could (at least in
    principle) be interesting for non-members,
    perhaps even non-believers. Similarity to
    classical apologetics.

15
3.4 Where Swinburnes probabilistic reasoning
comes in
  • Six general features of the world are most easily
    explained by the existence of God, hence they are
    (weak) evidence for the existence of God (a) the
    existence of a complex physical universe (b)
    order in the universe (c) the existence of
    conscious beings (d) the matching between human
    and animal needs and the features of environment
    (e) (perhaps) the occurrence of miracles (f) the
    fine-tuning of basic natural constants.
  • Why ?
  • God as a radically simple object, considerable
    probability
  • The pieces of evidence are comparatively
    complicated, their intrinsic probability of
    existence is very low
  • God has reasons to bring about these pieces of
    evidence, i.e. the hypothesis of a God has a
    considerable explanatory power
  • Bayesian modelling of this reasoning
    (simplified)(h God exists, e the evidence
    occurs, k background knowledge)
    P(h/e k) the probability of h, given e and
    k

quite high considerable extremely low
16
4. Alvin Plantinga RE delivers properly basic
beliefs
  • 4.1 Reformed Epistemology
  • Reformed (Calvinist) Christians, but also
  • Aimed at reform of epistemology (importance of
    basic beliefs, we dont conclude so much) and
    religious epistemology (its not the believer who
    must justify his faith in terms of non-belief!)
  • Shift in the burden of proof the
    null-hypothesis is the rationality (!) of a
    theistic world-view as long as its impossibility
    is not proven.
  • religious belief can be properly basic
  • Contrary to critics of religion, but also phil.
    theology!
  • Alvin Plantinga (1932)
  • Reason and Belief in God (1983)
  • Warranted Christian Belief (2000)
  • Where the Conflict Really Lies. Science,
    Religion, Naturalism (2011)

17
4. Alvin Plantinga RE delivers properly basic
beliefs
  • 4.2 Basic beliefs
  • Belief system huge network of beliefs, logical
    relations between them
  • Where does the system ultimately hang?
    Basic/foundational beliefs neither further
    justifiable nor in need of justification.
    foundationalism
  • Basic/foundational and inferential beliefs
  • Plantingas soft foundationalism there are
    basic beliefs, they are even the vast majority of
    our beliefs, but they are not immune to error
    (examples)
  • One and the same belief can be basic or
    inferential (examples)

18
4. Alvin Plantinga RE delivers properly basic
beliefs
  • 4.3 Religious basic beliefs?
  • Not like God exists or God is a trinity!
  • But Manifestation beliefs in certain
    appropriate situationsGod has created all
    that God dislikes what Im just doing
    God shall be praised God speaks to me now
  • These beliefs, if veridical, imply God exists
    (as inferential belief) (BASIC) MANIFESTATION
    BELIEF INFERENTIAL BELIEF God has created all
    that God exists God dislikes what Im just
    doing God existsGod shall be praised God
    existsGod speaks to me now God exists
  • These beliefs are basic, i.e. not out of
    inference. Like Here comes Ivan or I had
    breakfast at 7 i.e. analogous to perception
    memory
  • They can be properly basic, i.e. not every
    religious belief is irrational!

19
4. Alvin Plantinga RE delivers properly basic
beliefs
  • 4.4 The arguments for Plantingas Reformed
    position
  • Two strategies, a destructive one and a
    constructive one
  • Destructive strategy Refutation of the
    classical foundationalism (CF)which is behind
    critics of religion (and behind classical phil.
    theology!)
  • Constructive strategy proposal of a model how
    religious PBBs are possible

20
4. Alvin Plantinga RE delivers properly basic
beliefs
  • 4.4 The arguments for Plantingas Reformed
    position
  • The Destructive strategy Refutation of
    classical foundationalism
  • (CF1) Rational beliefs are either inferential
    or properly basic.
  • (CF2) Properly basic beliefs are either evident
    to the senses (I see white) incorrigible
    inner perceptions (I feel pain) or
    conceptually self-evident (parts are not bigger
    than wholes).
  • (Clearly, religious beliefs are hard to justify
    within CF)
  • But two arguments against CF!
  • (1) CF is self-undermining (CF2) must be basic
    or inferential.
  • Is it basic? It is neither evident to the
    senses, nor incorrigible, nor conceptually
    self-evident. Is it inferential? No idea how

21
4. Alvin Plantinga RE delivers properly basic
beliefs
  • 4.4 The arguments for Plantingas Reformed
    position
  • The Destructive strategy
  • (1) CF is self-undermining
  • (2) CF is unduly narrow. Makes a lot of beliefs
    completely irrational Emma is angry. I had
    breakfast at 7. There are material
    objects. Objects keep on existing when no one
    looks at them. There are other minds beyond my
    own. The world has existed for more than 5
    minutes. etc. But
  • Such beliefs are neither CF-basic nor inferable.
    But they are rational! Hence, CF must be wrong.

22
4. Alvin Plantinga RE delivers properly basic
beliefs
  • 4.4 The arguments for Plantingas Reformed
    position
  • The Destructive strategy
  • A better notion for o.k. beliefs (instead of
    CF-justification) WARRANTed beliefs! A
    belief is warranted if and only if . the
    relevant segments of my cognitive faculties work
    properly, the cognitive environment is
    appropriate, my belief-forming is
    interested in truth (not something else),
    my cognitive faculties produced mostly true
    beliefs so far.
  • Warrant is a quality label for basic as well as
    inferential beliefs. (Inferring is a cognitive
    faculty!)

23
4. Alvin Plantinga RE delivers properly basic
beliefs
  • 4.4 The arguments for Plantingas Reformed
    position
  • The Constructive strategy The two
    Aquinas/Calvin models models how warranted
    religious experience could be possible from a
    Christian standpoint (assumption we are Gods
    creation, created in Gods image)
  • (1) The A/C model God has implemented in us a
    Sensus Divinitatis, i.e. a special ability to
    make religious experiences, i.e. to form theistic
    manifestation beliefs in appropriate situations.
    These beliefs can fulfil the warrant definition
  • my cognitive faculties (including Sensus
    Div.!) work properly there are appropriate
    environments/situations for religious beliefs
    my belief-forming is interested in truth my
    cognitive faculties produced mostly true beliefs
    so far.

24
4. Alvin Plantinga RE delivers properly basic
beliefs
  • 4.4 The arguments for Plantingas Reformed
    position
  • The Constructive strategy (1) The A/C model
  • (2) The extended A/C model Problem The
    original sin (istocni grijeh) has damaged the
    Sensus Divinitatis, the sense for God is
    confused, few people succeed in it
  • Solution the assistance of the Holy Spirit
  • repairs the Sensus Divinitatis gives
    specific Christian (not only theistic) beliefs
    their warrant brings firmness and joy of faith

25
4. Alvin Plantinga RE delivers properly basic
beliefs
  • 4.5 Reformed Epistemology as Augustinian
    Christian Philosophy
  • But are the A/C models TRUE?
  • Plantinga Here we pass beyond the competence of
    philosophy. (!)
  • Only a partial answer (objections to 5 common
    attacks). But this does not matter.
    Augustinian Christian Philosophy
  • NOT making the Christian world-view plausible
    for non-believers, by using only neutral premises
    (Thomistic CP),
  • BUT developing a Christian world-view under the
    assumption that Christian doctrines are true
    (e.g. given the doctrine of creation, what would
    follow for epistemology?) Augustinian CP
    It is also perfectly proper to start from what
    we know as Christians.
    (Plantinga, Advice to Christian
    Philosophers (1983))
  • Make a Christian proposal, wait for objections,
    defeat them (find defeater defeaters!). Here a
    proposal how religious experience could work and
    why it could be reliable. (Main worry
    (see Friday) a philosophical or theological
    project?)

26
5. William P. Alston RE as social doxastic
practice
  • 5.1 Well-established social doxastic practices
  • doxa belief, opinion, conviction, - a
    component of knowledge
  • Doxastic practices practices, techniques,
    habits of getting beliefs.
  • Examples for well-established social practices
    perception, measuring, introspection, reasoning,
    interpreting utterances,
  • Doxastic practices give beliefs a
    prima-facie-justification,
  • Justification can be lost by overriders
    (examples).
  • No ultimate justification for doxastic practices
    (would end in circularities) but it is
    pragmatically rational to follow them. (And
    perhaps also to follow religious doxastic
    practices.)

27
5. William P. Alston RE as social doxastic
practice
  • 5.1 Well-established social doxastic practices
  • Alstons overall Project
  • there are also religious SDPs,
  • they may be reliable, perhaps they even produce
    knowledge
  • Also other SDPs cannot ultimately be justified
    without circles
  • Hence religious SDPs are not worse off than
    non-religious ones
  • Parity argument

28
5. William P. Alston RE as social doxastic
practice
  • 5.2 Characteristics of mystical experience
  • Concentration on perception-like religious
    experiences Perceiving God (1991) summary in
    Mystical perception and perceptual awareness of
    God, in W.E. Mann (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to
    Philosophy of Religion (2005)
  • Character of presence (not just thinking-of)
  • Directness (not like feeling God in the rain)
  • Not restricted to the standard 5 senses,
    quasi-sensual
  • Mostly focal experiences, i.e. attract all
    attention and blot out everything else
  • Spontaneously appearing or deliberately sought

29
5. William P. Alston RE as social doxastic
practice
  • 5.3 Why mystical perception can lead to rational
    beliefs a complex parity argument
  • Of course there is a lot of projection,
    inconsistent and insane religious experience. But
    can RE in principle yield rational beliefs? YES.
  • 5.3.1 A plausible principle for general
    perception
  • (PF) The fact that a subject, S, has an
    experience that seems to be a case of xs
    appearing to S as so-and-so renders a belief that
    x (exists and) is so-and-so prima facie
    justified.
  • Notice the justification is prima facie only and
    can find overriders.
  • Important (PF) cannot be proven, only defended
    (1) any alternative to (PF) would be radical
    scepticism, implausible (2) Any attempt to prove
    (PF) would lead into hopeless epistemic
    circularities. (Like the PNC!)

30
5. William P. Alston RE as social doxastic
practice
  • 5.3 Why mystical perception can lead to rational
    beliefs a complex parity argument
  • 5.3.2 Does the same hold for mystical
    perception?
  • (PFG) The fact that a subject, S, has an
    experience that seems to be a case of Gods
    appearing to S as so-and-so renders a belief that
    God (exists and) is so-and-so prima facie
    justified.
  • (PFG) is of course not as strong as (PF).
    Rejecting (PFG) does not end in general
    scepticism.
  • Alston But (PFG) is not so much worse than (PF).
    Mystical perception should not be measured with
    unfairly high standards.
  • In what follows 3 Arguments for (PFG)

31
5. William P. Alston RE as social doxastic
practice
  • 5.3 Why mystical perception can lead to rational
    beliefs a complex parity argument
  • 5.3.3 Three arguments for (PFG)
  • A. Theistic doctrines say that mystical
    perception is to be expected.Hence, opponents of
    MP must prove the falsity of theism.(Similar to
    Plantingas shift of the burden of proof to the
    atheist!)
  • B. (parity argument) MP is not much worse off
    than sense perception(i) MP is only made by
    some, SP by all BUT demographic rarity says
    nothing about veridicality, see piano tuners or
    high-end scientists!(ii) SP is continuous, MP
    rare and rhapsodic BUT similar to (i).
    (iii) SP is rich in details, MP poor and
    obscure BUT this may hold for seeing, not for
    smell and touch. They are also poor, but
    veridical.(iv) SP yields an intersubjectively
    consistent picture, MP not BUT (weakest
    objection) the ultimate reality has many
    appearances. Hick!
  • C.

32
5. William P. Alston RE as social doxastic
practice
  • 5.3 Why mystical perception can lead to rational
    beliefs a complex parity argument
  • 5.3.3 Three arguments for (PFG)
  • A.
  • B.
  • C. MP is a SDP and hence adjustable and (in a
    sense) testable - spiritual practices e.g. in
    religious orders (Ignatian exercises,
    deliberatio primorum patrum, deliberatio
    communitaria, )
  • - criteria for God-experiences are conformity
    to doctrine stable inner peace, openness for
    others, spiritual growth etc. (John Hick!)
  • - Parity argument between RE and rational
    intuition, introspection etc. not easily
    testable, yet they may deliver truths

33
5. William P. Alston RE as social doxastic
practice
  • 5.3 Why mystical perception can lead to rational
    beliefs a complex parity argument
  • Alstons warning from epistemic imperialism of
    sense perception
  • Mystical perception should not meet unfairly
    high criteria.
  • Sense perception, especially seeing, is not the
    benchmark for all other doxastic practice!

34
6. Comparisons
  • 6.1 Three variants of an evidential argument
  • All three Defenses of RE as source of truth.
    Evidential argument from RE.
  • Only Swinburne Combination of the evidential
    argument (the big bracket in his argument) with
    an inferential argument ( the cumulative
    argument from the six other pieces of evidence,
    which makes God not highly improbable)
  • All three Forms of a credibility principle are
    involved. Swinburne Principles of
    Credulity/Testimony Plantinga Basic beliefs are
    prima facie warranted, until defeat Alston
    Principles (PF) and (PFG)

35
6. Comparisons
  • 6.2 Internal and external argumentations
  • Swinburne EXTERNAL argument, addressees are also
    non-believers.
  • - Component of inferential argument- credulity
    principles do not require theological
    assumptions, just
  • - not in-principle-atheism and strong
    agnosticism
  • - burden of proof at the beginning is with the
    theist - religious experience has strong
    external role in the argument
  • Plantinga INTERNAL argument, directed to the
    Christian, why he may trust in his RE. Reason
    Christian doctrine says also something about the
    explanation of RE. Burden of proof is at the
    beginning with the atheist, he has to prove
    falsity of theism/Christianity.
  • Alston

36
6. Comparisons
  • 6.2 Internal and external argumentations
  • Alston interesting intermediate position. -
    the parity argument B (between SP and MP)
    external
  • - argument A resembles Plantinga theism
    makes RE expectable an internal argument
  • - argument C (testability and criteria for
    authentic RE) the criteria seem to
    presuppose a background-theology God
    fosters peace, solidarity - internal argument
    ?

37
6. Comparisons
  • 6.3 Atomistic, isolated religious beliefs?
  • A general worry religious beliefs appear as
    single, atomistic, context-free,
    not-in-need-of-interpretation, clear in
    themselves
  • But like other beliefs, religious beliefs rest
    on background beliefs, a context of
    interpretation Weltanschauung / world-view /
    metaphysical framework / conceptual framework
    etc.
  • Examples of its content What does God mean,
    what attributes effects could such an object
    have, does it exist? What kinds of cause and
    effect are possible? etc

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6. Comparisons
  • 6.3 Atomistic, isolated religious beliefs?
  • Atomism most clearly in Plantinga Swinburne.
  • Plantinga The human mind ? a well-greased
    epistemic machine, producing isolated ( mostly
    basic) beliefs, some of them are religious in
    content
  • The religious manifestation beliefs display their
    content out of themselves, it is obvious.
  • But do they really do that? (In the face of 250
    years of anti-religious literature!)
  • Suspicion Plantingas philosophy works best in a
    theologi-cally homogeneous environment. Semantics
    of God, his activities, religious experience
    etc. is clear Group phil.
  • Swinburne similar extraordinary RE comes
    clearly from God, i.e. theological concepts taken
    (unduly?) for granted

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6. Comparisons
  • 6.3 Atomistic, isolated religious beliefs?
  • Alston of all 3 authors, weakest atomism and
    isolationism.
  • Most understanding for embedding into manifold
    of doxastic practices they hang together,
    overriders may come from various doxastic
    practices. (Especially in last book, Beyond
    Justification 2005)
  • Of all three, Alston takes diversity of RE most
    seriously. RE is conceptually underdetermined,
    open to various interpretations

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  • 7. The framework and rationality criteria for RE
  • Alston it is pragmatically rational to trust in
    RE
  • But is it also epistemically rational?
  • Thesis epistemic rationality and (ideal)
    pragmatic rationality amount to the same. We hold
    a practice pragmatically rational because we
    believe it brings us closer to the truth
    (epistemic rationality)
  • How do we judge the pragmatic rationality of
    beliefs B? Whether there are no relevant
    questions open for B!
  • But What are relevant questions for RE beliefs?
    Are there any?

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  • 7. The framework and rationality criteria for RE
  • Relevant questions for RE beliefs (e.g.)
  • - is it compatible with other beliefs about God?
    (No anthro- pomorphism, no naïve corporeality,
    )- is it compatible with the rest of my
    orientation framework (ontology, science, own
    religious tradition (how rational is the
    latter?) ?
  • More than Plantinga, Alston, Swinburne see it
    Philosophical theology as a corrective to
    single-sided, naïve accounts of experiences of
    God. If God is the ultimate explanation of
    reality, what attributions to him are plausible?
  • Other pattern of argument Religion as best
    explanation of overall experience?
  • I.e., religious epistemology to be backed by
    metaphysical considerations! RE not as basic as
    Plantinga believes.
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