Archive for June 11th, 2012

June 11th, 2012

Stephen Wyksrta’s “Toward a Sensible Evidentialism: On the Notion of ‘Needing Evidence’”

by Max Andrews

Wykstra argues contra ‘Calvinian’ epistemology, a la Alvin Plantinga, which suggests that belief in God is properly basic.  Wykstra puts forth a case for evidentialism.  His goal was to not refute Plantinga’s view but instead relocate the discussion so that evidentialism will appear as a viable option. With this option of evidentialism he doesn’t attempt to say that it’s necessarily absent from a Calvinian point of view but that Calvinians’ need to understand the role of evidence.  It’s not that evidentialism is wrong or that the Calvinian can’t use evidentialism but it’s that Calvinians can have their claim of properly basic beliefs without completely dismissing the evidentialist position.

Logically prior to such inferential reasoning is intuition or basic beliefs.  These beliefs may also be considered properly basic.  The belief that this glass of water in front of me will quench my thirst if I drink it is not inferred back from previous experiences coupled with an application of a synthetic a priori principle of induction.  Though this example is not how we form our beliefs psychologically or historically, it can be formed via instances of past experience and induction in the logical sense.  This is how the properly basic beliefs are related to God’s existence. 

Wykstra’s argument: