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Title: Evidence, aesthetics, and justifying belief in God : a prolegomenon concerning the grounds for belief in God
Author: Doherty, Iain
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1997
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The evidentialist challenge to religious belief has been read as arguing that if it is not rational to accept a proposition about God, then one ought not to accept it. It is not rational to accept propositions about God unless one does so on the basis of other beliefs that constitute sufficient evidence for them, and with a firmness not exceeding that warranted by the strength of the evidence. Alvin Plantinga rejects the challenge on the grounds that the believer does not need evidence in order to be rational in believing these propositions. Despite the claim that Alvin Plantinga's essays constitute a radical departure from the customary philosophical ways of considering the rationality of religious belief and that they have decisively altered the nature of the debate, I suggest that Plantinga's views on the rationality of religious belief do not decisively alter the nature of the debate. His work is a sophisticated variation of the argument that religious beliefs may be justified directly by the appropriate sort of experience and it fails to overcome the demand that there be evidence to support the belief that God exists. Taking as my starting point the claim that legitimate comparisons can only be made between beliefs of the same logical type and suggestions to do with analogies between the epistemological status of aesthetic judgements and the epistemological status of religious beliefs, I make use of insights derived from the field of aesthetics in order to criticise both the evidentialist challenge to religious belief and Plantinga's reply to this challenge. In terms of the evidentialist challenge, I am concerned, in particular, with criticising the claim that there must be evidence if it is to be established that the word God does in fact have an application. With this in mind, I make use of, and develop, several ideas from the field of aesthetics; that to know that a work of art has a certain aesthetic quality one must be brought to see that this quality; the claim that aesthetic judgements cannot be supported with reasons in the logical sense; and, finally, the idea that classic works of art can disclose important truths about our lives.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available