Religious Epistemology Discussion (Plantinga & Sosa)
July 6, 2013 — 13:59

Author: Andrew Moon  Category: Existence of God Links Problem of Evil Religion and Life Religious Belief  Tags:   Comments: 0

Wow, I can’t believe I didn’t know about this religious epistemology discussion that happened earlier this year. It is in three parts: Sosa opening criticism, Plantinga response w/discussion, and more discussion.
Other participants I recognized included the following: Michael Tooley, Richard Fumerton, Linda Zagzebski, Trenton Merricks, Louise Antony, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Mark Murphy, and Meghan Sullivan. It was exhilarating to watch top rate philosophers discuss these fascinating topics!

Nagel on Plantinga’s New Book
September 15, 2012 — 13:20

Author: Andrew Moon  Category: Atheism & Agnosticism Books of Interest Existence of God Religious Belief  Tags: , , , ,   Comments: 4

Thomas Nagel writes a review of Alvin Plantinga’s recent book, Where the Conflict Really Lies, which James Beebe has also nicely reviewed here at Prosblogion.
Nagel’s review is well-written and charitable. He covers much territory by summarizing large swathes of Plantinga-philosophy in succinct paragraphs, all without sacrificing accuracy. (He even appears to have carefully read footnotes from Plantinga’s other works.) His only objection seemed to be that Plantinga does not consider naturalist theories of mental content. Plantinga doesn’t cover them in this book, but he deals with a number of them in a recent PPR paper.
So, as one very familiar with Plantinga’s work, I was impressed with Nagel’s review.

Nomological Necessity and Theism
June 30, 2012 — 20:09

Author: Andrew Moon  Category: Existence of God  Tags: , , , ,   Comments: 25

In Where the Conflict Really Lies, which James Beebe has nicely reviewed, Alvin Plantinga discusses nomological necessity, the necessity had by physical laws. As he (and everybody else) points out, propositions like
2) Every sphere made of gold is less than 1/2 mile in diameter
are true and universal. However, there is a clear sense in which (2) is not necessary in the sense required for lawhood (the sort of necessity we call ‘nomological necessity’). On the other hand, the proposition that no object can increase from a velocity less than the speed of light to a velocity more than the speed of light is nomologically necessary. Also, it does not seem that this proposition is necessary in the broadly logical or metaphysical sense; the law seems contingent.
How are we to understand nomological necessity? Plantinga suggests:


Plantinga’s Abstract Objects Argument
June 22, 2012 — 23:21

Author: Andrew Moon  Category: Existence of God  Tags: , , , ,   Comments: 19

In Where the Conflict Really Lies, which James Beebe has nicely reviewed, Alvin Plantinga writes,

But numbers and sets themselves make a great deal more sense from the point of view of theism than from that of naturalism. Now there are two quite different but widely shared intuitions about the nature of numbers and sets. First, we think of numbers and sets as abstract objects, the same sort of thing as propositions, properties, states of affairs and the like… On the other hand, there is another equally widely shared intuition about these things: most people who have thought about the question, think it incredible that these abstract objects should just exist, just be there, whether or not they are ever thought by anyone. Platonism with respect to these objects is the position that they do exist in that way, that is, in such a way as to be independent of mind… But there have been very few real Platonists, perhaps none besides Plato and Frege, if indeed Plato and Frege were real Platonists (and even Frege, that alleged arch-Platonist, referred to propositions as gedanken, thoughts). It is therefore extremely tempting to think of abstract objects as ontologically dependent upon mental or intellectual activity in such a way that either they just are thoughts, or else at any rate couldn’t exist if not thought of. (287-288)

I am inclined to think that there are numbers and that they are abstract objects, but I don’t have the second intuition that they must be thought. Is there something I’m missing? I do have the intuition that contingently existing objects must have a cause for their existence, but I don’t have the intuition that abstract objects must be thought, which, if they exist, necessarily exist.
Maybe somebody could help motivate this intuition for me? Or is this intuition not very widely shared (contra Plantinga’s remark)?

Knowing Your Theistic Belief is Warranted
March 3, 2012 — 15:08

Author: Andrew Moon  Category: Existence of God Religious Belief  Tags: ,   Comments: 25

Two assumptions:
A1: God exists
A2: Plantinga has successfully argued for one of his big conclusions in Warranted Christian Belief: that if God exists, then belief in God is likely to be warranted.
Now, suppose Smith has a properly basic belief that God exists. Smith has also read WCB and believes the conclusion of Plantinga’s argument on the basis of that argument. Can Smith appropriately reason as follows?

1) God exists
2) If God exists, then my belief that God exists is likely to be warranted.
3) Therefore, my belief that God exists is likely to be warranted.

Granted, there is some circularity going on here. Smith is using his belief that God exists as a premise in his reasoning to prove something about the epistemic status of his belief.
But many epistemologists have come to be okay with such circular reasoning. (For example, Mike Bergmann would probably be okay with it so long as Smith had no significant doubts about God exists or it’s not the case that he ought to have. And I don’t think anybody’s provided a good criticism of Bergmann’s defense in the literature.)
Q1) Is Smith’s reasoning okay? (granted my assumptions)
Q2) Anybody know of any literature that assesses the sort of reasoning Smith is engaging in (w/r/t theistic belief)?

NDPR review of “Evidence and Religious Belief”
February 18, 2012 — 11:32

Author: Andrew Moon  Category: Books of Interest Links Religious Belief  Tags:   Comments: Off

See here. The article’s by our very own Prosblogion contributor Trent Dougherty!

Hawthorne, Grant, Religious Epistemology
December 20, 2011 — 11:27

Author: Andrew Moon  Category: News Religious Belief  Comments: Off

John Hawthorne has been awarded a generous grant from Templeton for work on religious epistemology. There are fellowship possibilities. See here.

Theistic Moral Epistemologies
December 13, 2011 — 21:53

Author: Andrew Moon  Category: Concept of God Divine Command Existence of God  Tags: ,   Comments: 12

Dustin Locke asks the following questions:

I was wondering if anyone could help me with another scholarship question. I’m looking for texts that concern theistic accounts of moral epistemology. Of course there are all the texts on divine command theory. But these discuss divine command theory primarily as an account of what moral facts are, rather than accounts of how we know about them–in other words, they’re accounts of the metaphysics of morality, not the epistemology. The obvious theistic contenders for the latter would be things like scripture, personal revelation, God-given innate moral beliefs, etc. Does anyone know of a good text that explores the possibilities here and perhaps argues for one over the others (or at least argues that one is no good)?

Any help?

God’s Knowledge and the Evidence Thesis
December 4, 2011 — 11:54

Author: Andrew Moon  Category: Concept of God  Tags: , ,   Comments: 46

In a forthcoming paper, I defend the view that knowledge does not require believing on the basis of evidence. In other words, I argue against what I call the “Evidence Thesis”, which states:

(Evidence Thesis) S knows that p at t only if S believes that p on the basis of evidence at t.

How does the evidence thesis relate to evidentialism, formulated and defended by Earl Conee and Richard Feldman? Well, their view is about epistemic justification, and it states that the doxastic attitude one is justified in having is the one that fits the evidence. Evidentialism is a popular view, and we can see that it is distinct from the evidence thesis. However, VERY MANY evidentialists endorse the evidence thesis. So do VERY MANY internalists. On the other hand, almost no externalist will endorse the evidence thesis. So long as one’s true belief was produced in the right way (e.g., by a reliable process, with safety, with sensitivity, by properly functioning faculties, by an exercise of the right sort of ability, etc.), the belief counts as knowledge. Despite the fact that some people seem to presume the truth of the evidence thesis, we can see that a great many theories of knowledge (the externalist ones) entail that it is false. And I argue that it is false in my paper. So, my argument both provides support for the many externalist theories of knowledge and also gives many evidentialists and internalists a reason to revise their views.
In this post, I want to try out a counterexample against the evidence thesis.


Killeen Chair Conference on Religious Disagreement
November 9, 2011 — 17:06

Author: Andrew Moon  Category: Links News  Comments: Off

Killeen Chair Conference on Religious Disagreement
Hosted by St. Norbert College, Green Bay, Wisconsin
April 14th through 15th, 2012
The organizing committee for the Killeen Chair of Theology & Philosophy announces a conference on the epistemology of religious disagreement, to be held at St. Norbert College on April 14-15, 2012.
Keynote Speakers:
Michael Bergmann (Purdue)
Thomas Kelly (Princeton)
Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern)
Additional Speakers:
Nathan King (Whitworth)
Jonathan Matheson (North Florida)
Andrew Moon (Missouri)
Tim Pickavance (Biola)
The organizing committee invites the submission of papers for two or three additional speakers. Papers should relate in some way to the epistemic significance of religious disagreement, and each should be suitable for a thirty-five minute presentation (roughly 3,500 words).
Papers should be prepared for blind review and submitted electronically. Please send your file attached to an e-mail message in which you state your name, contact information, and the title of your paper. Preferred file formats include Word 97-2003 (.doc), Word 2007 (.docx), and PDF. Please send submissions to tomas DOT bogardus AT snc DOT edu.
The deadline for submissions is Friday, February 10th, 2012.
The organizing committee warmly invites all interested philosophers to attend and participate in the conference. If you plan to attend, please email Tomas Bogardus at the above address so that we can plan to accommodate the group’s size.
Commentators will be selected for some papers. If you would be willing to comment, please indicate your interest in an email (with a current CV attached) by Friday, February 10th, 2012. One need not present a paper in order to serve as a commentator.
For further information on the Killeen Chair in Theology & Philosophy, please visit