Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019) and AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021).
"Belief in God, he argues, is what philosophers call a basic belief: It is no more in need of proof than the belief that the past exists, or that other people have minds, or that one plus one equals two."
If Plantinga is not being misrepresented here, I think he is on very thin ice. We have ample evidence that other people have minds, and that 1+1=2 (the ontological status of the past may be more debatable). In fact no debate would be possible with someone who did not accept these facts. The existence of God is surely on a different level.
Also, why should I not declare all of my beliefs as basic, and therefore above criticism? What's special about God? (and which God?)
I reject Plantinga's whole foundationalist epistemology, including the idea that we "need proof" for our beliefs. The best we can do is scrutinise our beliefs and attempt to drop beliefs that we find good reasons to drop. If we can find no good reasons either way, then we may as well continue in the belief. There are, however, good reasons not to believe in God.
Demanding "proofs" (or good reasons) for beliefs has probably been a useful rule of thumb in the past. But we should beware of elevating this into an absolute rule. Anyway, insofar as we accept such a rule, we are making an induction from past experience. So using this rule as an argument against induction is self-defeating. Hence the problem of induction needn't worry us. The same can probably be said about belief in the past.
I've been listening to a lot of stuff about Plantinga's Reformed Epistemology, and I don't understand why he his as highly respected as his is. Reformed Epistemology really seems just crazy to me.
Post a Comment