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Transmitting Faith (and Garbage)

John Greco

Abstract

Part One of the paper argues against evidentialism and individualism in religious
epistemology, and in favor of a “social turn” in the field. The idea here is that human
belief in general, and religious belief in particular, is largely characterized by epistemic
dependence on other persons. An adequate epistemology, it is agued, ought to recognize
and account for social epistemic dependence.

Part Two considers a problem that becomes salient when we make such a turn. In
short, how are we to understand the transmission of knowledge and rational faith in a
religious tradition? The problem arises because, by all accounts, even the best traditions
transmit superstitions, self-serving prejudices, and other things that are down right false
on any reasonable view. So how is it that these same traditions can also transmit rational
faith and even knowledge by means of the very same channels, for example channels of
religious authority and religious teaching?

Part Three offers a tentative solution to this problem.

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