Posts tagged ‘epistemology’

November 28th, 2014

A Classroom Discussion on Morality at Glasgow University

by Max Andrews

On 26 November, Tyler Dalton McNabb invited me as a guest for a Q&A discussion concerning the moral argument and objective morality for his philosophy class at Glasgow University.

I briefly introduced my ontological moral argument and he presented his epistemic moral argument. My argument, in the end, argues that this world conjoined with a perfectly moral person makes a fuller case and provides the better explanation of the full range of moral facts in need of explanation. Such an explanation describes a world that has the texture, depth, and thickness it does and is able to exist in the first place because it was imbued with value and meaning by this morally perfect person. It must be a person because a person, a mind, is the only thing that can issue imperatives. A combination of persons, or a social-theory, doesn’t work because persons are equal in imperative actions. Thus, there must be a person that has the authority to issue such denotic imperatives and ground these moral facts.

October 31st, 2014

10 Things That Annoy Philosophers

by Max Andrews

If you want to get under the skin of a philosopher there are a few ways to irk us. There’s more that just the annoyance of telling someone you’re a philosopher and they respond, “Oh, I took a psychology course in university!” Yes, that type of misunderstanding warrants the philosopher’s incredulous stare… just as these will:

10. “So, how will you make money? What do you do?”

Okay, so I’m not an engineer. I’m not a research chemist for a Fortune 500 corporation and I may not be able to work most blue collar tasks… However, I, and other philosophers, think (but there’s more!). For the philosopher, the act of philosophizing is not a mere intellectual exercise that could exist solely in consciousness. To the contrary, philosophy is a procedure and inquiry to the self, a “discovery and self-liberation.” The intellectual and cognitive acts of philosophy are participatory in their inquiry of the world. This would be very similar to the understanding that Socrates is the philosopher. He not only taught and philosophized, but he understood that the very act of philosophizing was an act of engagement with the world and it was a way of life.

9. The university administration putting philosophy in the periphery

Philosophy departments aren’t typically the big money-makers at university–typically. However, the university system needs to understand that the philosophy faculty, the philosophy students, and the discipline of philosophy in general is an investment rather than a moneymaker. I’ve seen firsthand that a university can divest in the philosophy department. Academia, the provost, the administrators, et al, need to view philosophy as the foundation by which a university is built and sustained.

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.

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August 5th, 2014

Q&A 42: Cultural Contingency and Religion – Causation or Correlation?

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion:

Would you be interested in putting together a blog response to this?

Jonathan D.



I recently listened to a paper on this topic whilst at the Tyndale Conference in Cambridge in July. Although the presenter was approaching 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. For a more serious response and approach to the issue please check out Max’s article.

My response, I think, doesn’t let the atheist’s argument to get off the ground. The whole argument in moot, in my opinion. I think Max [Baker-Hytch] is much more charitable, which is needed on certain points.

Before I get to my quick and simple response I wanted to offer a brief commentary on a few irks about the video. At one point a “theist” (even the video maker didn’t get this one right–Hinduism is polytheistic–close but off by a few million). I find it hard not to think that this category error was intentional just to add to the confusion and bickering amongst the theists. It’s just disingenuous or ignorant.

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). 

March 4th, 2014

God, Man, the World and Ontological Relations

by Max Andrews

God created both us and our world in such a way that there is a certain fit or match between the world and our cognitive faculties.  This is the adequation of the intellect to reality (adequation intellectus ad rem).  The main premise to adequation intellectus ad rem is that there is an onto-relationship between our cognitive or intellectual faculties and reality that enables us to know something about the world, God, and ourselves.[1]  This immanent rationality inherent to reality is not God, but it does cry aloud for God if only because the immanent rationality in nature does not provide us with any explanation of itself.[2]

In reality all entities are ontologically connected or interrelated in the field in which they are found.  If this is true then the relation is the most significant thing to know regarding an object.  Thus, to know entities as they actually are is to know what they are in their relation “webs”.  Thomas Torrance termed this as onto-relations, which points more to the entity or reality, as it is what it is as a result of its constitutive relations.[3]

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. 

November 7th, 2013

CS Lewis’ Idea of Heaven

by Max Andrews

Pleasures are to last forever in some form or another.  According to Lewis, a pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered.[1] This full knowledge and complete fruition of pleasure will only be in the fulfillment of one’s telos.  This lapse in knowledge, the separation between the subject and object (the epistemic gap between the subject and the object of desire that full one’s pleasures) is removed in heaven.  In Narnia, The Last Battle is the battle of the real forms—a draw to a close between this epistemic gap.  Digory, looking at the new Narnia, seeing that it is a fuller, more real version of the old Narnia, comments that, “It’s all in Plato, all in Plato.”[2]  Lewis’ Platonism is one in which ideas becomes concrete forms.  In heaven, Lewis says, is where heaven is a place where subject and object come together: thought and form become one when subject experiences object.[3] 

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 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? 
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