Monday, August 28, 2017

Plantinga and Reid

"Even if we could give an argument to show that a given source of belief was, in fact, reliable, in making that argument we would be obliged to rely on other sources of beliefs.  In particular, we would have to rely on reason; but clearly we can't establish that reason is reliable without relying on reason itself; so beliefs that are produced by reason are uncredentialed (WCB 128)

the central truths of Christianity are not self-evident, nor, so far as anyone can see, are they such that they can be deduced from what is self-evident. (WCB 114)

I don't believe those latter on the evidential basis of any other proposition at all; instead, they are 'basic' for me.  I simply see that they are true, and accept them.  I accept many propositions this way: that there is snow in my backyard, for example, and that it is still white. (WCB 83)

By failing to know God, we can come to a vastly skewed view of what we ourselves are, what we need, what is good for us, and how to attain it. (WCB 214)

But sin is also a perhaps primarily an affective disorder or malfunction.  Our affections are skewed, directed to the wrong objects; we love and hate the wrong things.  Instead of seeking first the kingdom of God, I am inclined to seek first my own personal glorification and aggrandizement, bending all my efforts toward making myself look good. (WCB 208)

The sensus divinitatis is a belief-producing faculty (or power, or mechanism) that under the right conditions produces belief that isn't evidentially based on other beliefs.  On this model, our cognitive faculties have been designed and created by God; the design plan, therefore, is a design plan in the literal and paradigmatic sense.  It is a blueprint or plan for our ways of functioning, and it has been developed and instituted by a conscious, intelligent agent.  The purpose of the sensus divinitatis is to enable us to have true beliefs about God; when it functions properly, it ordinarily does produce true beliefs about God.  These beliefs therefore meet the conditions for warrant; if the beliefs produced are strong enough, then they constitute knowledge (WCB179)

The basic idea is this: our cognitive faculties have been designed for a certain kind of maxienvironment. Even within that maxienvironment, however, they don't function perfectly (they sometimes produce false beliefs), although they do function reliably. (WCB 158)

Put in a nutshell, then, a belief has warrant for a person S only if that belief is produced in S by cognitive faculties functioning properly (subject to no disfunction) n a cognitive environment that is appropriate for S's kind of cognitive faculties, according to a design plan that is successfully aimed at truth (WCB 156)

considering the arguments for and against the existence of God.  On the pro side, there were the traditional theistic proofs, the cosmological, teleological, and ontological arguments, to follow Kant's classification.  On the con side, there was, first of all, the problem of evil (construed as the claim that the existence of evil is logically inconsistent with the existence of a wholly good, all-powerful, and all-knowing God).  Then there were also some rather opaque claims to the effect that the progress of modern science, or the attitudes necessary to its proper pursuits, or perhaps something similar lurking in the nearby buses, or maybe something else that had been learned by 'man come of age'--the idea was that something in this general neighborhood also offers evidence against the existence of God.  And it was also clearly assumed that belief in God was rational and proper only if on balance the evidence, so construed, favored it.   (WCB 68)

Faced with this impasse, I decided to compare belief in God with other beliefs, in particular, our belief in other minds . . . I claimed that the strongest argument for the existence of God and the strongest argument for other minds are similar and that they fail in similar ways.  Hence my 'tentative conclusion': 'if my belief in other minds is rational, so is my belief in God.  But obviously the former is rational; so, therefore, is the latter.' (WCB 70)

Evidentialism is the view that belief in God is rationally justifiable or acceptable only if there is good evidence for it, where good evidence would be arguments from other propositions one knows.  If it is accepted apart from such evidence or arguments, then it is as best intellectually third-rate: irrational, or unreasonable, or contrary to one's intellectual obligations. (WCB 70)

Let's say, a bit vaguely, that according to classical foundatonalists, a proposition is properly basic, for a person S, if and only if it is self-evident for S, or incorrigible for S, or evident to the senses for S." (WCB 85)

And his [Locke's] answer, as we have seen, is that a rational creature in our circumstances ought to govern his opinions by reason--that is, proportion his belief to what is certain for him.  But how are we to understand the 'may' and 'ought' and 'should' that Locke employs in stating his project? . . . his words ahve a deontological ring; they are redolent of duty, obligation, permission, being within your rights and the rest of the deontological stable. (WCB 86)