Friday, April 18, 2014

Three Lectures on Plantinga's Reformed Epistemology


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this, but the second video has no sound.

Anonymous said...

Hmm never mind it seems to be working now.

Anonymous said...

Feel free to delete my first 2 comments.

I enjoyed this set of lectures and I think it is nice of you to share this with people on the internet. I also think you did relatively fair job of explaining Plantinga.

When I read his refutation of classical foundationalism I thought it was ingenious and I was quite impressed. It was one of the few times in philosophy I left thinking “this is progress in our time.” And I thought if I could do something like that as a philosopher it would be well worth the career.

I was a bit sorry you didn't give more of your own thoughts on whether you found his refutation convincing.

I felt a similar way when I read Gettier's objections.

Plantinga and Gettier were both young teachers Wayne state and a philosophy teacher told me that the professors were meeting one time and told Gettier that he had lots of great thoughts and he should just write them down. So Gettier did that. He wrote 3 pages and well the rest is history.

As far as your objections to Plantinga's approach here are my thoughts:

Great Pumpkin: It seems this is somewhat of a slippery slope objection. Do people really get the sense that the great pumpkin is disappointed with them when they do wrong? I sort of doubt this concern is real.

But even so people have to start their beliefs with some that have no evidence right? Or we do run in circles? It also seems that epistemic beliefs can't arise based only on classical foundations. This is what Plantinga gave us reasons to believe. (and you really didn’t take issue with his argument there) So somewhere we need to add some other beliefs which by definition will have no evidence supporting them. So what is it we are to add that won’t have the great pumpkin objection?

Anonymous said...

In many of your objections you seem to assume that 2 rational people cannot disagree on something. You seem to imply that to accept God as properly basic we must assume anyone who doesn't is irrational. It may be that Plantinga argued that, but I do not think that is true.

Throughout many of you objections I tended to just shrug my shoulders and say yeah its possible rational people can disagree. How does that prove that belief in God is not properly basic?

I might suggest that you have some faulty thinking along the lines of the argument from ignorance. That is you seem to think that if someone is rationally believing something they must be able to prove it to others. And that their inability to prove it to others proves their belief is unjustified. But I think that is, if not fallacious, at least wrongheaded.

Our experiences are often subjective. Perhaps Courtney feels pain. That may be difficult to prove other than through Courtney saying she feels pain. But that doesn't mean she isn't feeling pain. Nor does it mean her believing she is feeling pain is irrational.

Someone like an insurance adjuster may decide they think the Courtney is lying for personal gain in a personal injury case. The evidence might in fact be quite high that she is lying about her pain. Perhaps she had 10 other cases, and an ex husband testified that she lied about her pain in all those other cases. It might be rational for the insurance adjuster to believe Courtney is not in pain now. I wouldn't say the adjuster would be irrational. Yet Courtney might actually be in pain this time and she might therefore reasonably believe she is in pain.

You argue what if someone said I just got this feeling that the defendant is guilty. Well I think that is somewhat similar to the argument from the great pumpkin. It is sort of a slippery slope argument.

But as a juror you would be asked to base your decision on the evidence. If this hypothetical person couldn't do that then he would be asked not to sit on a jury. But again the very idea is if we are going to have foundations without evidence (or run in circles) then yes for some questions we shouldn't be on a jury. This is the basic problem that arises regardless of what beliefs we decide are basic or foundational.

This argument will apply to any sort of foundational belief you have right? It is something you have no evidence to believe and so you can always ask what if someone said they believe the defendant is guilty even though they have no evidence.

Anonymous said...

Ad Hominem:

I don’t think this is a classic case of ad hominem. Also I don’t think Plantinga is pulling any dirty tricks. I would respectfully suggest your own “in group” bias might lead you to want to think negatively about him in that way when he in fact is just giving his honest opinion.
Consider whether committing evil clouds your judgment about what is right and wrong.
I am listening to history book called the Bloodlands. In the book the author refers to a letter that was written by one of the Germans who killed many of the Jews. He said that at first when he was order to kill the men women and children his hand trembled and he had some difficulty. But then after a while his aim was reliable and he could kill men women and children without problems. It seems to me that when people do evil (what Plantinga and I would call, sin) they sort of deaden their senses to the truth that it is in fact evil.

Now you may disagree whether that goes to judgments outside of what is moral or not moral. But would you agree with that as to morality? Or would you say my claim that people who do evil tend to lose sight of the truth of morality is an ad hominem?

My view might be right or wrong but I don’t think it’s an ad hominem. I am not saying that the person is a bad person so don’t believe argument X. I am saying that I believe doing evil actions can numb our sense of right and wrong. Since I am a moral realist what I am saying is that doing evil can impair our ability to determine the truth of what is right and wrong.

Why isn’t God more obvious? Here I think this question is beyond the scope of the issues presented by Plantinga. I mean it’s a fine question to ask. But it really doesn’t deal directly with what Plantinga is doing here. It seems you might as well ask why is there evil if God in omnipotent or through out any other objection. I think there are reasons why God might not stand over us all the time and make his presence known all of the time. I think it would effect our free will and we wouldn’t learn about ourselves as much in this life. So I think there are different answers to that question but I think you are going adrift to the specific moves Plantinga makes here.

I think the same applies when you talk about different Gods and doctrines. I don’t think Plantinga is saying he thinks the sense is particularly the Calvinist God. He might I don’t know enough about him. But I don’t. For me it would be just that there is a God. As to whether thor exists we can look at evidence to sort out what the God is. Is there some interplay between the senses we get of who God is and our determination of what religion we pick? I am not ruling that out. But the choice of which religion and which doctrines is not completely decided by this divine sense. Other evidence can come into play at that point.

Anonymous said...

Let’s put the faux-analytical hyperbole away for a while and look at reality: Kalaam Cosmological Argument, teleological argument, First Cause/Unmoved Mover, the impossibility of infinite causal regress, the necessity of at least one unconditioned reality, the Argument from Reason, Fine Tuning of Universal Constants, irreducible biological complexity, the argument from morality… While you sit there in your Hitchens-Dawkins parroting bubble and regurgitate pseudo-intellectual douchisms, your entire world view lies shattered at your feet. If you truly honor the gods of reason and critical thinking half as much as you claim, you would plant your face firmly into your hand, step away from the device, find a quiet place, and rethink your life. But otherwise, thanks for your steaming pile of regurgitated pseudo-intellectual neck bearded blather, you r/atheism inspired, GNU obsessed, faux-analytical proto-basement dweller. Yours is a worldview so petty, so trivial, so earth bound, so unworthy of the universe.

John said...

Hi Matthew,

Bought your book recently and have just finished reading it. The best part of all of this was that, instead of paying the full price of $35 Australian dollars, I only paid 10 at a remainder bookshop

The worst part of that is that even 10 was way too much.

And I guess another bummer is that, being almost 60 y.o., I feel I've wasted a few weeks of my precious, now quickly dwindling life reading it.

Any chance of getting my money back, Matthew?

BTW, I'm not some unedookated dumbfuck: I have a pretty good degree in Philosophy and Religious Studies. I earned this at 45 while holding down a couple of hands-on type jobs. Know what they are?