epistemology, Reformed

epistemology, Reformed
   A theory of epistemology that defends the thesis that religious (specifically Christian) beliefs may be properly basic and even constitute knowledge, Reformed epistemology derives its name from the Christian Reformed theological tradition, and in particular the views of theologians like John Calvin and Abraham Kuyper. Not surprisingly, the main philosophers to have developed this theory are either from this tradition (Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff) or are sympathetic to it (William Alston). Among the criticisms of Reformed epistemology is the 'Great-Pumpkin Objection': if belief in God can be properly basic, then it is rational to believe in anything, including the Great Pumpkin. Since this is absurd, Reformed epistemology must be rejected. In response, advocates of Reformed epistemology point out that the rationality of properly basic beliefs is prima facie. Hence, if there were defeaters for belief in God (or the Great Pumpkin) such belief would become irrational until the defeater could itself be defeated. As such, the position can distinguish between rational and irrational forms of belief. Further, many of those beliefs that one deems to be properly basic are held within a particular doxastic community, and there is no reason why Christians cannot thus accept their beliefs as prima facie properly basic rather than, say, following an atheistic doxastic community in saying that they are not.
   Further reading: Alston 1993; Dooyeweerd 1975; Plantinga 2000; Plantinga and Wolterstorff 1983

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

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