Faith: How to be Partial while Respecting the Evidence

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In her paper, “True Faith: Against Doxastic Partiality about Faith (in God and Religious Communities) and in Defense of Evidentialism,” Katherine Dormandy argues against the view that there is a partiality norm on faith. Dormandy establishes this by showing that partiality views can’t give the right responses to encounters with stubborn counter evidence. Either they (anti-epistemic-partiality views) recommend flouting the evidence altogether in order hold on to positive beliefs about the object of faith or they (epistemic-partiality views) lower the epistemic standards in objectionable ways to alleviate the epistemic pressure imposed by the counterevidence. However, one cannot have praiseworthy faith when one refuses to really grapple with the evidence against the goodness of the faith’s object. So, partiality norms, far from constituting what makes for great faith, importantly stand in its way. Thus, we should reject any partiality norms on faith. We argue that cases of praiseworthy faith involve dispositions to confront the object of faith when presented with stubborn counter evidence against their goodness. Recognizing this enables us to endorse a partiality norm while avoiding Dormandy’s worries. We argue that dispositions to confront the object of faith presuppose positive beliefs about it, thus vindicating partiality. We further argue that the confrontation makes an epistemic demand of the object of faith: produce high confidence in whether it is still worth having faith in, thus carving out a central role for evidentialist norms.
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First archival date: 2021-01-25
Latest version: 2 (2021-01-25)
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