Heeft Het Theïsme Eigen Gronden? Alvin Plantinga Over de ‘Proper Basicality’ van Religieus Geloof

Philosophia Reformata 65 (2):170-182 (2000)
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The title of this article is ambiguous in the sense that it may direct the attention to either theism as a system of beliefs of persons who are referring to particular facts that serve as external grounds for the foundation of theist beliefs or to theism as a system of beliefs of persons who are convinced of theism’s truth on grounds that are intrinsic to their belief . Traces of both conceptions of theism can be found in Alvin Plantinga’s thesis of the ‘proper basicality’ of religious belief, for instance in the distinction between evidence of the ‘on the basis of …’- type and evidence of the ‘inclination’- type. However, these two types of evidence do only lead to doxastic experience. In order to be warranted with respect to a particular knowledge claim, beliefs must be produced by noetic capacities that function properly, i.e. according to their design plan and in contexts that are appropriate to these capacities. This externalist epistemology exerts its greatest power in the criticism of the ‘evidentialist objection to belief in God’. However, it raises a number of objections with respect to its positive account of theism. When every community of thinkers creates its own relevant set of examples in order to establish criteria of proper basicality, does this not lead to skepticism? And, can doxastic experience not be honoured as a proper response to being called by divine discourse and, correspondingly, be seen as the relational foundation of theist belief?

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Gerrit Glas
VU University Amsterdam


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