Archive for ‘Epistemology’

August 13th, 2014

Eavesdropping Ep9: Max Baker-Hytch on Culture and Religious Belief

by Max Andrews

I recently presented at the Tyndale Fellowship Conference in Cambridge in July. Whilst in attendance I listened to a paper by Max Baker-Hytch on this issue of cultural contingency of religion (or God being a “cultural chauvinist”) from a Reformed Epistemologist perspective. The paper is titled “Religious diversity and epistemic luck” by Max Baker-Hytch (PhD Philosophy, Oxford) and was published in the International Journal for Philosophy of Religion.

This episode of Eavesdropping is the audio recording from his presentation in Cambridge.

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 3.38.08 PM

August 7th, 2014

Eavesdropping: Launching the Sententias Podcast

by Max Andrews

After several different attempts and brainstorming sessions about what and how to do a needed podcast for Sententias I’ve finally settled on a modest, easy format. Eavesdropping is conversational, informal podcast that is sometimes a monologue, or dialogue with guests, on various topics including philosophy, theology, science, contemporary events, and random meanderings of a philosopher. The primary focuses are philosophy of science, multiverse scenarios, and Molinism.

For listening on the go, download the SoundCloud App:

Apple SoundCloud App

Google/Android SoundCloud App

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 6.53.52 PM

May 12th, 2014

Desire and when the evidence goes where you don’t want it to go

by Max Andrews

I would consider my epistemic position to be a moderate evidentialist. (This is just a brief outline).  There is a sense of deontology to it in that one ought to base their beliefs corresponding to the evidence; however, there is a sense in which one may hold a belief without sufficient evidence and still be rational.  The source of truth is the objective prime reality and our knowledge should correspond to the truth of reality.  My epistemology yields my theology in the sense of scientific theology.  What I know about reality is what I know about God.[1]

Excursus: One thing I’ve noticed about being an evidentialist is that we all have desires and wants and wills. The problem [or psychological down side] with this is that sometimes I want X to be true but I find out that X is not true or that the probability or likelihood of X is stronger in favor of ~X. I don’t think this is a problem for evidentialism as a system.

Cont.: I’ve had this several times in my pursuit for truth. If I had to be as succinct as possible about why I’m an evidentialist it’s because the truth leaves a trail. That trail could be empirical, intuition [a priori knowledge as well], and other forms. Also, theologically, God desires us to pursue truth… if we cannot draw valid and sound conclusions from the data before us then we live in an intrinsically irrational world, incapable of being known. Likewise, evidentialism is self-affirming. The evidence for evidentialism is likely to be a methodology that leads to the truth. It is akin to coherentism (See this paper). 

February 18th, 2014

Q&A 39: Ethical and Epistemic Dilemmas in Education

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion

Dear Max,

I understand you are very busy but this is very serious and if you could please spend some time reading this email it would be appreciated. You helped me about a year ago greatly through Reasonable Faith with regard to philosophy of the mind. I truly appreciated your words.

Please allow me to share a little about my background before I get to the point. I am a Christian who lives in Australia, I have a deep passion for apologetics and philosophy and have been teaching myself in my spare time for almost 2 years nearly every day. I have worked as a software developer for almost 20 years, these skills have greatly honed my analytical thinking.

Recently I learned that our school is implementing the PYP & MYP program from the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) also known as the World School. I had suspicions of this program because of its heavily secularized origin. This alerted me to do some research and suffice to say my findings are alarming. The problem with it is illustrating its deceptiveness via its pragmatic methods.

December 20th, 2013

Science without Epistemology is Impossible

by Max Andrews

A robust epistemology is a sufficient condition for a successful pursuit of scientific inquiry.  There are many other factors and conditions that must be met for science but a vigorous epistemic model for how one pursues scientific inquiry is needed; otherwise, there may be sufficient reasons to doubt not only the conclusions of the scientific inquiry but as well as the pool of data, which must be assessed appropriately.  The scientist is more than welcome to pursue an empiricist model for his epistemology, though strict [naturalistic] empiricism is not very robust, but it must have certain allowances for metaphysical import—perhaps more rationalistic.

I believe the best way to construct a robust epistemology and scientific method is to be a realist.  What I mean by this is that the external reality is how it appears to be to an observer making an epistemic inquiry, the measurements from science accurately depicts reality.  This is in contrast to instrumentalism/anti-realism, which suggests that our inquiry of the world, scientifically, do not accurately depict reality but as useful fictions.  An instrumentalist is more concerned about data fitting theories and predictions than with an accurate depiction of reality.

For the scientific realist, the ontology of the world determines one’s epistemology.  They congruently correspond.  It is important to note the order of entailment.  Antecedently, reality determines our epistemology. 

September 8th, 2013

Q&A 33: Abductively Reasoned Religious Experience

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion:

Hi Max Andrews,
I’ve just discovered your articles at sententias.org. Well done! And thank you for the
time and thought you and Ms. Davis obviously took to create such quality!

May I ask for your help?

I noticed on the site that you favor abductive reasoning. I am new to this inferential method.
And I wondered if you had written your own abductively-reasoned account of coming to
know and trust God? 
read more »

July 17th, 2013

The Problem of Historical Knowledge

by Max Andrews

One of the obscure claims by those who have been influenced by the postmodern tradition is the claim that history is not objective–at least, it cannot be objectively known. History can and is only reported from a bias perspective, thus it cannot be trusted as truly objective. It’s along the line of thought that winners write history.

So, here’s the question, “Can we actually know the past?”

June 12th, 2013

Q&A 26: Revisiting the Viability of Theistic Explanations

by Max Andrews

Question:

This is a follow up question from week 16. For a greater context please see that Q&A.

OK, thank you so much!

I’ll go through your reply point by point more or less, but I’ll try my best to be concise.

On successful research programs – Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to assume that science and philosophy aren’t continuous. Perhaps this is based on the idea that science is committed to methodological naturalism (MN). But what do you think of the idea that science isn’t looking for the best naturalistic explanations, but the best explanations, period; and it just so happens that naturalistic explanations have a successful track record and supernatural ones don’t? In other words, MN need not be seen as a presupposition of science, but as sensible advice based on past experience – MN has been tremendously successful before, so why not be committed to it? My point is this: it seems that, unless we assume science and philosophy (qua explanatory practice, at least) are discontinuous, your appeal to God as a metaphysical explanation (as opposed to a scientific one) is questionable.

May 15th, 2013

The Evidentialist and the Scientific Theologian

by Max Andrews

I am approaching the world as a realist. (For a background of my epistemology please see: My Evidentialist Epistemology).  What I mean by this is that the external reality is how it appears to be to an observer making an epistemic inquiry, the measurements from science accurately depicts reality.  This is in contrast to instrumentalism, which suggests that our inquiry of the world, scientifically, do not accurately depict reality but as useful fictions.  An instrumentalist is more concerned about data fitting theories and predictions than with an accurate depiction of reality.

For the realist-evidentialist, the ontology of the world determines one’s epistemology.  They congruently correspond.  It is important to note the order of entailment.  Antecedently, reality determines our epistemology.  It would be illicit to reverse the term order and as Roy Bhaskar notes, it would be the epistemic fallacy.  I am not advocating a naïve realism where reality acts on the human mind without personal inquiry nor am I advocating postmodern anti-realism where one can construct whatever type of reality is desired.  I am advocating a form of critical realism.

May 6th, 2013

Practicing Epistemic Humility

by Max Andrews

There are three primary categories for virtue the Christian/theist will affirm.  The first are the transcendental virtues: truth, beauty, and goodness. The second set is the theological virtues: faith, hope, and love/charity.  Then there are the four cardinal virtues: prudence, courage, patience, and justice.  It’s my belief that every Christian must practice epistemic humility.  What is that?  Well, epistemic humility, in the sense I’ll be using it, refers to an application of the four cardinal virtues in the area of epistemology (knowledge).  Each of these virtues have a respective vice.  For instance, the virtue of moderation would appear as a vice in addiction.

The virtue of epistemic prudence is know when and how to appropriate your knowledge to others.  Have you ever noticed that person in class or in church that seems to be the ‘know-it-all,’ whether they actually are or not?  Of course, it’s worse when they’re simply ignorant of what they’re talking about, but not only is this person annoying but there may be several issues rooted in the flaunting of knowledge. There’s nothing wrong with sharing you’re knowledge but, like I said, it’s how and when you share it.