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The epistemological limits of experience-based exclusive religious belief

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 November 2008

ERIK BALDWIN
Affiliation:
Department of Philosophy, Purdue University, 100 N. University St, West Lafayette, IN 47907
MICHAEL THUNE
Affiliation:
Department of Philosophy, Purdue University, 100 N. University St, West Lafayette, IN 47907

Abstract

Alvin Plantinga and other philosophers have argued that exclusive religious belief can be rationally held in response to certain experiences – independently of inference to other beliefs, evidence, arguments, and the like – and thus can be ‘properly basic’. We think that this is possible only until the believer acquires the defeater we develop in this paper, a defeater which arises from an awareness of certain salient features of religious pluralism. We argue that, as a consequence of this defeater, continued epistemic support for exclusive religious belief will require the satisfaction of non-basic epistemic criteria (such as evidence and/or argumentation). But then such belief will no longer be properly basic. If successful, we will have presented a challenge not only to Plantinga's position, but also to the general view (often referred to as ‘reformed epistemology’) according to which exclusive religious belief can be properly basic.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Cambridge University Press

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