Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Quasi-Fideism and Religious Conviction

Duncan Pritchard

Abstract

It is argued that standard accounts of the epistemology of religious commitment
fail to be properly sensitive to certain important features of the nature of religious conviction. Once one takes these features of religious conviction seriously, then it becomes clear that we are not to conceive of the epistemology of religious conviction along completely rational lines.
But the moral to extract from this is not fideism, or even a more moderate proposal (such as reformed epistemology) that casts the epistemic standing of basic religious beliefs along nonrational lines. Rather, one needs to recognise that in an important sense religious convictions are not beliefs at all, but that this is compatible with the idea that many other religious commitments are beliefs. This picture of the nature of religious commitment is shown to fit snugly with the Wittgensteinian account of hinge commitments, such that all rational belief essentially presupposes certain basic arational hinge commitments, along lines originally suggested by John Henry Newman. We are thus able to marshal a parity-style argument in defence of religious commitment. Although religious belief presupposes basic arational religious convictions, it is not on this score epistemically amiss since all belief presupposes basic arational convictions, or hinge commitments. The resulting view of the epistemology of religious commitment is a position I call quasi-fideism.

Full Text:

PDF

References

Alston, William P. 1982. “Religious Experience and Religious Belief”. Noûs 16, no. 1: 3–12. doi:10.2307/2215404.

—. 1986. “Is Religious Belief Rational?”. In The Life of Religion, edited by Stanley M. Harrison and Richard C. Taylor, 1–15. Lanham, London: Univ. Press of America.

—. 1991. Perceiving God: The Epistemology of Religious Experience. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell Univ. Press.

Barrett, Cyril. 1997. “Newman and Wittgenstein on the Rationality of Religious Belief”. In Newman and conversion, edited by Ian Ker, 89–99. Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame Univ. Press.

Coliva, Annalisa. 2010. Moore and Wittgenstein: Scepticism, Certainty, and Common Sense. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

—. 2015. Extended Rationality: A Hinge Epistemology. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Locke, John. 1979. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Edited by Peter H. Nidditch. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Ludwig Wittgenstein. 1966. Wittgenstein’s Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief. Edited by Cyril Barrett. Oxford: Blackwell.

McGinn, Marie. 1989. Sense and Certainty: A Dissolution of Scepticism. Oxford: Blackwell.

Moore, George E. 1925. A Defence of Common Sense. Edited by J. H. Muirhead. London: Allen & Unwin.

Moyal-Sharrock, Danièle. 2004. Understanding Wittgenstein’s On certainty. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Newman, John H. 1985. An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent. Edited by Ian Ker. Oxford: Clarendon.

Nielsen, Kai. 1967. “Wittgensteinian Fideism”. Philosophy 42, no. 161: 191–209. doi:10.1017/S0031819100001285.

Phillips, D. Z. 1976. Religion Without Explanation. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

Plantinga, Alvin. 1983. “Reason and Belief in God”. In Faith and rationality: Reason and belief in God, edited by Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff, 16–93. Notre Dame: Univ. of Notre Dame Press.

—. 2000. Warranted Christian Belief. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

Pritchard, Duncan. forthcoming. “Wittgensteinian Hinge Epistemology and Deep Disagreement”. Topoi.

—. 2009. “Defusing epistemic relativism”. Synthese 166, no. 2: 397–412. doi:10.1007/s11229-007-9278-2.

—. 2011. “Epistemic Relativism, Epistemic Incommensurability and Wittgensteinian Epistemology”. In A Companion to Relativism, edited by Steven D. Hales, 266–85. Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.

—. 2011. “Wittgenstein on Scpeticism”. In The Oxford Handbook of Wittgenstein, edited by Oskari Kuusela and Marie McGinn, 521–47. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

—. 2012. “Wittgenstein and the Groundlessness of Our Believing”. Synthese 189, no. 2: 255–72. doi:10.1007/s11229-011-0057-8.

—. 2014, cop. 2014. “Entitlement and the Groundlessness of Our Believing”. In Scepticism and Perceptual Justification, edited by Dylan Dodd and Elia Zardini, 190–213. Oxford, New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

—. 2015. Epistemic Angst: Radical Skepticism and the Groundlessness of Our Believing. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

—. 2015. “Wittgenstein on Faith and Reason: The Influence of Newman”. In God, Truth, and other Enigmas, edited by Miroslaw Szatkowski, 141–64. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter.

—. 2017. “Faith and Reason”. Philosophy 81: 101–18. doi:10.1017/S135824611700025X.

—. 2017. “Wittgenstein on Hinge Commitments and Radical Scepticism”. In A Companion to Wittgenstein, edited by Hans J. Glock and John Hyman, 563–75. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell.

—. 2018. “Disagreement, of Belief and Otherwise”. In Voicing Dissent: The Ethics and Epistemology of Making Disagreement Public, edited by Casey R. Johnson, 22–39. Milton: Taylor and Francis.

—. 2018. “Epistemic Angst”. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96, no. 1: 70–90. doi:10.1111/phpr.12280.

Schönbaumsfeld, Genia. 2016. The Illusion of Doubt. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

Stevenson, Leslie. 2002. “Six Levels of Mentality”. Philosophical Explorations 5, no. 2: 105–24. doi:10.1080/10002002058538725.

Williams, Michael. 1991. Unnatural Doubts: Epistemological Realism and the Basis of Scepticism. Oxford: Blackwell.

—. 2007. “Why (Wittgensteinian) Contextualism Is Not Relativism”. Episteme 4, no. 1: 93–114. doi:10.3366/epi.2007.4.1.93.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1969. On Certainty. Edited by G. E. M. Anscombe, Georg H. v. Wright, and Denis Paul. Oxford: Blackwell.

Wright, Crispin. 2004. “Warrant for Nothing (and Foundations for Free)?”. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 78, no. 1: 167–212. doi:10.1111/j.0309-7013.2004.00121.x.

Zagzebski, Linda. 2010. “Religious Knowledge”. In The Routledge Companion to Epistemology, edited by Sven Bernecker and Duncan Pritchard, 393-400. New York: Routledge.

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.