Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

The Moral and Evidential Requirements of Faith

Finlay Malcolm


What is the relationship between faith and evidence? It is often claimed that faith requires going beyond evidence. In this paper, I reject this claim by showing how the moral demands to have faith warrant a person in maintaining faith in the face of counter-evidence, and by showing how the moral demands to have faith, and the moral constraints of evidentialism, are in clear tension with going beyond evidence. In arguing for these views, I develop a taxonomy of different ways of irrationally going beyond evidence and contrast this with rational ways of going against evidence. I then defend instances of having a moral demand to have faith, explore how this stands in tension with going beyond and against evidence, and develop an argument for the claim that faith involves a disposition to go against, but not beyond evidence.


Faith; belief; action; going beyond evidence; moral demands.

Full Text:



Alston, William. 1996. “Belief, Acceptance, and Religious Faith”. In Faith, Freedom, and Rationality. Philosophy of Religion Today, edited by Jeffrey L. Jordan and Daniel Howard-Snyder, 3–27. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield.

Audi, Robert. 2008. “Belief, Faith, and Acceptance”. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 63, no. 1–3: 87–102. doi:10.1007/s11153–007–9137–6.

—. 2011. Rationality and Religious Commitment. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

Buchak, Lara. 2012. “Can it be Rational to have Faith?”. In Probability in the Philosophy of Religion, edited by Jake Chandler and Victoria S. Harrison, 225–48. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

—. 2014. “Rational Faith and Justified Belief”. In Religious Faith and Intellectual Virtue, edited by Laura F. Callahan and Timothy O’Connor.

—. 2017. “Faith and Steadfastness in the Face of Counter-Evidence”. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 81, no. 1–2: 113–33. doi:10.1007/s11153–016–9609–7.

Duckworth, Angela, Christopher Peterson, Michael Matthews, and Dennis Kelly. 2007. “Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 92, no. 6: 1087–1101. doi:10.1037/0022–3514.92.6.1087.

Evans, C. S. 1998. Faith Beyond Reason: A Kierkegaardian Account. Cambridge: Eerdmans.

Fantl, Jeremy, and Matthew McGrath. 2002. “Evidence, Pragmatics, and Justification”. The Philosophical Review 111, no. 1: 67–94.

Feldman, Richard. 2007. “Reasonable Religious Disagreements”. In Philosophers without Gods: Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life, edited by Louise Antony, 194–214. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

Howard-Snyder, Daniel. 2013. “Propositional Faith: What It Is and What It Is Not”. American Philosophical Quarterly 50, no. 4.

—. 2017. “Markan Faith”. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 81: 31–60. doi:10.1007/s11153–016–9601–2.

Jeffrey, Anne. 2017. “Does Hope Morally Vindicate Faith?”. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 81: 193–211.

Kvanvig, Jonathan L. 2013. “Affective Theism and People of Faith”. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 37, no. 1: 109–28. doi:10.1111/misp.12003.

Lackey, Jennifer. 2007. “Norms of Assertion”. Nous 41, no. 4: 594–626. doi:10.1111/j.1468–0068.2007.00664.x.

Locke, John. 1924. Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Malcolm, Finlay, and Michael Scott. Manuscript. Faith, Belief and True Grit.

—. Manuscript. True Grit and the Positivity of Faith.

—. 2017. “Faith, Belief and Fictionalism”. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98, no. 2: 257–74. doi:10.1111/papq.12169.

McKaughan, Daniel. 2017. “On the Value of Faith and Faithfulness”. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 81: 7–29. doi:10.1007/s11153–016–9606-x.

Mele, Alfred R. 2006. “Self-Deception and Delusions”. European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 2, no. 1: 109–24.

Morton, Jennifer, and Sarah Paul. 2019. “Grit”. Ethics 129: 175–203.

Plantinga, Alvin. 2000. Warranted Christian Belief. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

Preston-Roedder, Ryan. 2013. “Faith in Humanity”. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87, no. 3: 664–87. doi:10.1111/phpr.12024.

Scheffler, Samuel. 2010. “Morality and Reasonable Partiality”. In Equality and Tradition, edited by Samuel Scheffler, 41–75. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

Schellenberg, J. L. 2005. Prolegomena to a Philosophy of Religion. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

Sessions, William L. 1994. The Concept of Faith. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press.

Stanley, Jason. 2005. Knowledge and Practical Interests. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

Stroud, Sarah. 2006. “Epistemic Partiality in Friendship”. Ethics 116, no. 3: 498–524.

White, Roger. 2005. “Epistemic Permissiveness”. Philosophical Perspectives 19, no. 1: 445–59.

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM


  • There are currently no refbacks.