January 15th, 2016
I recently became interested in A Song of Ice and Fire and the HBO adaptation Game of Thrones within the last year. While LOST will always have a sentimental and special place in my heart, I must concede that this is perhaps the most well-written show I’ve ever seen. LOST is still very well written and tops a close #2 on my list even though I think it is much more philosophical.
Tyler D. McNabb and I have coauthored a chapter for the forthcoming 2016 book The Ultimate Game of Thrones and Philosophy published by Open Court Press. The chapter title is “Belief and Trust in the Fog of War and Lies: The Case of Catelyn and Brienne”. Naturally, I’m not an epistemologist–that’s Tyler. I’m the metaphysician, which made Tyler lead but the contribution by both of us were balanced and equal.
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May 12th, 2014
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.
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).
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January 4th, 2013
I consider myself a moderate evidentialist when it comes to epistemology. 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.
Everything that we know is intuitive or experiential. Intuition will be discussed later but the knowledge gained is from sensory apparatus’. The characters read on paper are only the result of photons reflecting off of the paper and the photoreceptors in the eye receiving that information. All knowledge cannot be deemed sensory only since it seems feasible that a person with a sensory handicap or no functioning sensory apparatus’ may still be justified in believing in his own existence by intuition (as well as moral truths). The task of justification, or determining the truth of p, must meet the criteria of an inference to the best explanation (IBE).
Consider the following definition for justification:
S is justified in believing p = S possesses sufficient evidence for p to be true.
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June 15th, 2012
W.K. Clifford summarized this deontic model of rationality when he stated, “it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind… the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.” Clifford gives the scenario of a seafaring ship and the ship owner’s knowledge of the integrity of the ship. In Clifford’s alternated ending the ship owner is responsible or equally guilty for the shipwreck even though it never happened. The reason why he’s responsible is because he knew that that’s what could have happened.
The deontic aspect of belief and knowledge is not so much how one forms a belief but rather what that belief is. This ethic on pertains to what the belief is and how it measures to the evidence. The justificatory means is peripheral as long as the belief corresponds to reality. Initially, this seems an untenable position assuming that it may be possible to know the objective truth about all of reality. In order for one to be justified and to have knowledge without being at fault ethically the belief must be congruent to the evidence. This allows for reasonable accountability and correction of one’s beliefs and it permits the advancement of knowledge, to learn, and paradigm shifts.
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June 11th, 2012
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.
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