A Plea for the Theist in the Street:
In Defence of Liberalism in the Epistemology of Religious Experience.
(forthcoming) Faith and Philosophy.
ABSTRACT: It can be easy to assume that since the ‘theist in the street’ is unaware of any of the traditional arguments for theism he or she is not in position to offer independent rational support for believing that God exists. I argue that that is false if we accept with William Alston (1991) that ‘manifestation beliefs’ can enjoy rational support on the basis of suitable religious experiences. I make my case by defending the viability of a ‘Moorean’-style proof for theism—a proof for the existence of God that parallels in structure G.E. Moore’s famous proof for the existence of the external world. I argue that this shows that even if the theist in the street has nothing to offer for helping to convince the religious sceptic, this needn’t entail that she cannot offer independent rational support in defense of her theistic belief.
Epistemological Disjunctivism and the Internalist Challenge.
(forthcoming) American Philosophical Quarterly.
ABSTRACT: The paper highlights how a popular version of epistemological disjunctivism (Pritchard 2012, 2016) labours under a kind of ‘internalist challenge’—a challenge that seems to have gone largely unacknowledged by disjunctivists. This is the challenge to vindicate the supposed ‘internalist insight’ that disjunctivists claim their view does well to protect (cf. Littlejohn forthcoming, 2015). The paper argues that if we advance disjunctivism within a context that recognizes a distinction between merely functional and judgmental belief (Sosa 2015), we get a view that easily overcomes the internalist challenge.
ABSTRACT: Epistemological disjunctivism says that one can know that p on the rational basis of one’s seeing that p. The basis problem for disjunctivism says that that can’t be since seeing that p entails knowing that p on account of simply being the way in which one knows that p. In defense of their view disjunctivists have rejected the idea that seeing that p is just a way of knowing that p (the SwK thesis). That manoeuvre is familiar. In this paper I explore the prospects for rejecting instead the thought that if the SwK thesis is true then seeing that p can’t be one’s rational basis for perceptual knowledge. I explore two strategies. The first situates disjunctivism within the context of a ‘knowledge-first’ approach that seeks to reverse the traditional understanding of the relationship between perceptual knowledge and justification (or rational support). But I argue that a more interesting strategy situates disjunctivism within a context that accepts a more nuanced understanding of perceptual beliefs. The proposal that I introduce reimagines disjunctivism in light of a bifurcated conception of perceptual knowledge that would see it cleaved along two dimensions. On the picture that results perceptual knowledge at the judgemental level is rationally supported by perceptual knowledge at the merely functional or ‘animal’ level. This supports a form of disjunctivism that I think is currently off the radar: one that’s consistent both with the SwK thesis and a commitment to a traditional reductive account of perceptual knowledge.
Faith as Extended Knowledge.
(forthcoming) Religious Studies.
ABSTRACT: You don’t know that p unless it’s on account of your cognitive abilities that you believe truly that p. Virtue epistemologists think there’s some such ability constraint on knowledge. This looks to be in considerable tension, though, with putative faith-based knowledge. For at least on a popular Christian conception, when you believe something truly on the basis of faith this isn’t because of anything you’re naturally competent to do. Rather faith-based beliefs are entirely a product of divine agency. Appearances to the contrary, I argue in this paper that there’s no deep tension between faith-based knowledge and virtue epistemology. Not if we learn to conceive of faith as a kind of extended knowledge.
ABSTRACT: This paper explores religious belief in connection with epistemological disjunctivism. It applies recent advances in epistemological disjunctivism to the religious case for displaying an attractive model of specifically Christian religious belief. What results is a heretofore unoccupied position in religious epistemology—a view I call ‘religious epistemological disjunctivism’ (RED). My general argument is that RED furnishes superior explanations for the sort of ‘grasp of the truth’ which should undergird ‘matured Christian conviction’ of religious propositions. To this end I first display the more familiar perceptual epistemological disjunctivism (PED), contrasting it with both externalist and classically internalist views. This prepares the way for introducing RED with its own distinctive factive mental state operator—pneuming that p. In this second section I present the RED model, not failing to address a potential problem concerning religious disagreement. I also clarify RED’s distinctive internalist aspect, describing how it comports with con- temporary internalist thinking in epistemology. I then move in section three to criticize externalist and classical internalist views, showing where they fail to make proper sense of the sort of knowing which should ground mature Christian conviction. Specifically, I highlight three intuitions which I think any theory of religious belief should capture: what I call the case-closed intuition, the good believer intuition, and the Plantingian platitude. This is all to set up for the final section where I argue that RED is superior for understanding proper religious believing— capturing the aforementioned intuitions.
A Better Disjunctivist Response to 'The New Evil Genius' Challenge.
(2017) Grazer Philosophische Studien 94.1, 101-125.
ABSTRACT: This paper aims for a more robust epistemological disjunctivism (ED) by offering on its behalf a new and better response to the ‘new evil genius’ problem. The first section articulates the ‘new evil genius challenge’ (NEG challenge) to ED, specifying its two components: the ‘first-order’ and ‘diagnostic’ problems for ED. The first-order problem challenges proponents of ED to offer some understanding of the intuition behind the thought that your radically deceived duplicate is no less justified than you are for adopting her perceptual beliefs. In the second section, I argue that blamelessness explanations are inadequate to the task and offer better explanations in their place—that of ‘trait-level virtue’ and ‘reasonability’. The diagnostic problem challenges proponents of ED to explain why it is that classical internalists disagree with them about how to interpret new evil genius considerations. The proponent of ED owes some error theory. I engage this problem in the third section, arguing that classical internalists are misled to overlook disjunctivist interpretations of new evil genius thinking owing to a mistaken commitment to a kind of ‘vindicatory’ explanation of proper perceptual belief.
Religious Epistemological Disjunctivism.
(2016) International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 79.3, 261-279.
WORKS IN PROGRESS
A paper on epistemological disjunctivism and underdetermination-based scepticism
A paper exploring a Moorean-style argument for the existence of God
A short paper concerning Keith Leher's superstitious lawyer, and the basing relation.