Propositional faith: what it is and what it is not

American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (4):357-372 (2013)
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Reprinted in Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology, Wadsworth 2015, 6th edition, eds Michael Rea and Louis Pojman. What is propositional faith? At a first approximation, we might answer that it is the psychological attitude picked out by standard uses of the English locution “S has faith that p,” where p takes declarative sentences as instances, as in “He has faith that they’ll win”. Although correct, this answer is not nearly as informative as we might like. Many people say that there is a more informative answer. They say that, at the very least, propositional faith requires propositional belief. More precisely, they say that faith that p requires belief that p or that it must be partly constituted by belief that p. This view is common enough; call it the Common View. I have two main aims in this paper: (i) to exhibit the falsity of the Common View and the paucity of reasons for it, and (ii) to sketch a more accurate and comprehensive account of what propositional faith is.

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Daniel Howard-Snyder
Western Washington University


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