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More Generally: Philosophy (552) » Epistemology (53)

December 6, 2021

Zagzebski and Cuneo on Religious Communities

In her book Epistemic Authority, Linda Zagzebski defends a view on which epistemic authority (the right to be believed) is very closely analogous to practical authority (the right to be obeyed). According to Zagzebski, both are justified by my conscientious judgment that I am more likely to achieve my goals (including the goal of believing the truth) if I trust the authority than if I go off on my own. In justifying authority within small communities, Zagzebski (pp. 144-148) uses the example of a community dedicated to a particular skill or way of life. I might participate in an orchestra,...
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October 31, 2020

Hume's Polemic against Tillotson (and Friends) in "Of Miracles"

Interpreters of Hume's "Of Miracles" (section 10 of the Enquiry concerning Human Understanding) have often been puzzled about the purpose of Part 2 of the essay. It appears to many interpreters that Hume's argument in Part 1, if it works at all, must establish that it is impossible in principle for any testimony to yield rational belief in miracles. (For defense of this interpretation of Part 1, see, e.g., Robert Larmer.) The announced purpose of Part 2, however, is to argue that actually existing testimony of miracles is of poor quality. If Part 1 has established that no matter how...
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July 25, 2019

Latitudinarian vs High-Church Philosophy: Two Contrasts

Religious and political historians of 17th/18th century Britain and Ireland are well aware of the long-running conflict between the 'latitudinarian' and 'high-church' factions in the Anglican Communion. However, many historians of philosophy are entirely unfamiliar with these terms. To historians of philosophy, religious debate in Britain and Ireland in this period is a conflict between Christians and deists/atheists, in which differences among Christians are either entirely invisible or of secondary importance. This is unfortunate, first, because this internal Anglican conflict can shed light on some familiar philosophical texts and debates and, second, because there is a lot of interesting philosophy...
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January 1, 2018

Toland's Rhetorical Use of Cyril and Hypatia

No, no, they were no Christians that kill'd Hypatia; nor are any Christian Clergymen now to be attack'd through the Sides of her Murderers, but those that resemble them; by substituting precarious Traditions, scholastick Fictions, and an usurped Dominion, to the salutiferous Institution of the holy Jesus. John Toland, HYPATIA: OR, THE HISTORY OF A Most beautiful, most vertuous, most learned, and every way accomplish'd LADY; WHO was torn to Pieces by the CLERGY of Alexandria, to gratify the Pride, Emulation, and Cruelty of their ARCHBISHOP, commonly but undeservedly stiled St. CYRIL (1720), ch. 21 There is some controversy regarding...
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July 9, 2010

Authority, Authoritativeness, and Objectivity

I've just finished reading John Foster's new book, A World For Us: The Case for Phenomenalistic Idealism. Foster had previously defended idealism in his 1982 The Case for Idealism, and many of the basic arguments are the same, though I think the structure is cleaner and easier to grasp. (I've also just finished reading the restored version of Stranger in a Strange Land, so every time I write 'Foster' I'm thinking of the archangel - but that's beside the point.) The main motivation behind Foster's idealism, all the way back to 1982, is the thought that if anything is to...
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