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Believing by FaithAn Essay in the Epistemology and Ethics of Religious Belief$
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John Bishop

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199205547

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199205547.001.0001

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Responses to Evidential Ambiguity: Isolationist and Reformed Epistemologies

Responses to Evidential Ambiguity: Isolationist and Reformed Epistemologies

Chapter:
(p.77) 4 Responses to Evidential Ambiguity: Isolationist and Reformed Epistemologies
Source:
Believing by Faith
Author(s):

John Bishop (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199205547.003.0004

This chapter considers whether fideism might be avoided through alternative approaches to the (assumed) evidential ambiguity of theism. Isolationist (Wittgensteinian) epistemology (often linked to theological non-realism) takes theistic doxastic frameworks to be epistemically isolated in the sense that their framework principles are necessarily not assessable in the light of external evidence. Reformed epistemology maintains that holding certain theistic beliefs may be evidentially justified because their truth is basically, non-inferentially, evident in the believer's experience. It is argued that both these epistemologies must ultimately be regarded as fideist, and a critique is provided, in particular, of William Alston's appeal to an alleged parity with perceptual beliefs and Alvin Plantinga's appeal to his epistemological externalist theory of warrant. It is argued that reflective believers must recognize that their commitment to basic theistic beliefs involves a faith-venture.

Keywords:   William Alston, doxastic frameworks, epistemological externalism, evidential ambiguity, perception, Alvin Plantinga, properly basic belief, Reformed epistemology, theological non-realism, warrant

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