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Rationality of Belief and the Plurality of Faith: Essays in Honor of William P. Alston [Hardcover]

Rationality of Belief and the Plurality of Faith: Essays in Honor of William P. Alston [Hardcover]

By Thomas D. Senor (Author)
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Pages   291
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.34" Width: 6.3" Height: 0.98"
Weight:   1.33 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jan 31, 1996
Publisher   Cornell University Press
ISBN  0801431271  
EAN  9780801431272  

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Item Description...
A veritable who's who in the field of contemporary philosophy of religion here considers various issues in the epistemology of religious beliefs. The writings of William P. Alston, the leading figure in the revival of the Anglo-American philosophy of religion, provide the focus of these essays, all but two previously unpublished. Philosophers of religion, meta-physicians, epistemologists, and theologians will find in this volume some of the most important work available in the theory of knowledge and the epistemic status of religious belief.

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A Great Collection of Essays  Jun 1, 2003
"The Rationality of Belief and the Plurality of Faith," ed. by Tom Senor, is dedicated to the "father of analytic American philosophy of religion," William Alston. Not every essay, however, is obviously dedicated to him, much less about him. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the essays in this book; so, let me say something briefly about them since that is what you'd be reading. There are three sections of the book, broken up like so: Natural Theology and the Knowledge of God; The Epistemology of Religious Experience; and Religious Pluralism.

In "Praying the Proslogion," Marilyn McCord Adams argues that Anselm's 'unum argumentum'was never intended for unbelievers; all of that is found in the Monologion. She also touches upon the work of Coloman Etienne Viola's argument that the ontological argument is a reductio argument.

The second piece, "Can Philosophy Argue God's Existence?", Brian Leftow examines Karl Barth's claim that it cannot. Barth essentially has two arguments against natural theology: (1) the use of equivocal language due to God's great transcendence limits our application of God as the first 'cause;' (2) natural theologians' motives stem from sin-beliefs. Leftow argues both of these arguments fail.

The third article is by William Rowe: "William Alston on the Problem of Evil." Here, Rowe looks at Alston's challenge that one cannot be justified in claiming that any particular act is an example of gratuitous evil - this is not based on the distance between God's mind and our's. Alston's claim is rather that one is not justified in believing there are no goods beyond our ken that would justify the allowance of horrid evils. Rowe ends up saying that Alston's argument fails. I am sympathetic with Rowe's argument and think another route ought to be taken to defeat his inductive version of evil (where Bambi dies).

The fourth paper is by Eleonore Stump and Norman Kretzmann. They challenge Leo Elders' work, The Philosophical Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. Elders says that Aquinas has the dilemma of either being an Averroist or a determinist based on certain claims in ST and SCG. I'm with Kretzmann and Stump on this one; Elders' interpretation is just not plausible given what Aquinas says elsewhere. This is really an exegetical paper that clears up problems in the analytic style.

To begin the second section, Robert Audi's paper, "Religious Experience and the Practice Concept of Justification," looks at three models of justification for religious belief: the Jamesian model, the practice conception, and the intuitionist conception. Audi believes that more attention should be given to the practice conception as an account for rationality, and not justification.

William Hasker's paper, "The Epistemic Value of Religious Experience: Perceptual and Explanatory Models," criticizes William Abraham's paper and defends a perceptual model of religious experience. Hasker does admit in a footnote, however, that the two are not mutually exclusive; he has Swinburne in mind.

William Wainwright's "Religious Language, Religious Experience, and Religious Pluralism," argues that though Alston's account in Perceiving God is on the whole correct, it is not sufficiently established without first presenting arguments for a Christian metaphysics. Most problematic for Alston's account is religious pluralism; this is a recurring theme in this book. This moves us into the final section of the book.

Alvin Plantinga's (somewhat famous, now that it is in a few books) article, "Pluralism: A Defense of Religious Exclusivism," considers arguments that exclusivism is in itself egotistical, arrogant, etc., and not epistemically warranted. Plantinga claims there is no neutral ground on this issue, making moral objections 'tar babies.' He likewise does not believe the epistemic objections succeed. However, in the end, he admits that pluralism may initially diminish some degree of warrant, but in the long term produce the opposite effect.

Peter van Inwagen's paper, "Non Est Hick," proposes the interesting claim that Christians should stop using abstract language like, "Christianity" vs "Buddhism," and think more in terms of the church universal and its role in the world. To argue on pluralist grounds using their language is to lose the game.

Joseph Runzo's "Perceiving God, World-Views, and Faith: Meeting the Problem of Religious Pluralism," suggests that Alston, though mostly correct, does not present as strong of an argument as possible, and thus does not adequately deal with the pluralist. This is because what confirms Christian Mystical Practices on Alston's account can be found in other religious. Something more is needed.

Lastly, George Mavrodes offers an analysis of "Polytheism," as titled. He lays out different senses one may be a polytheist and shows on what account John Hick falls into that category. He also considers arguments - religious and philosophical - for and against polytheism. As a side note, under religious arguments, Mavrodes raises famous passages like the Shema but does not believe this rule out what he calls "descriptive polytheism," to which he adheres. While his point on those passages is formally correct, one must wonder how he deals with the later Jewish writings that clarify those earlier ones (e.g., those in Isaiah that are more clear in ruling out the existence of other genuine gods).

So, this book is a really good collection of essays. The only downside is that it may be a bit difficult for new students of philosophy. These essays can at times be a bit technical. However, I think you should stretch yourself a bit and attempt to read these since they are worth your time. Good book.


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