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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 41, Issue Supplement, 2016
Selected Papers in Honor of William P. Alston

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1. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 41 > Issue: Supplement
Robert Audi, Foreword
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2. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 41 > Issue: Supplement
Thomas D. Senor, Introduction and Remembrance
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3. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 41 > Issue: Supplement
Sanford C. Goldberg, Epistemic Justification Revisited
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In his Beyond Justification, Bill Alston argued that there is no single property picked out by ‘epistemic justification,’ and that instead epistemological theory should investigate the range of epistemic desiderata that beliefs may enjoy (as well as the nature of and interconnections among the various epistemic good-making properties). In this paper I argue that none of his arguments taken singly, nor the collection as a group, gives us a reason to abandon the traditional idea that there is a property of epistemic justification. I conclude by suggesting how Alston’s proposal to investigate the variety of epistemic desiderata bears on the questions at the heart of the theory of epistemic justification. Here I suggest that, despite his attempts at neutrality with respect to debates about epistemic justification, Alston might well have taken sides on one of the main issues of substance.
4. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 41 > Issue: Supplement
Daniel Howard-Snyder, Two Peas in a Single Polytheistic Pod: John Hick and Richard Swinburne
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A descriptive polytheist thinks there are at least two gods. John Hick and Richard Swinburne are descriptive polytheists. In this respect, they are like Thomas Aquinas and many other theists. What sets Swinburne and Hick apart from Aquinas, however, is that unlike him they are normative polytheists. That is, Swinburne and Hick think that it is right that we, or at least some of us, worship more than one god. However, the evidence available to me shows that only Swinburne, and not Hick, is a cultic polytheist: he actually worships more than one god. I conclude that only Swinburne is a polytheist par excellence.
5. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 41 > Issue: Supplement
Michael P. Lynch, Paul Silva, Jr., Why Worry about Epistemic Circularity?
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Although Alston believed epistemically circular arguments were able to justify their conclusions, he was also disquieted by them. We will argue that Alston was right to be disquieted. We explain Alston’s view of epistemic circularity, the considerations that led him to accept it, and the purposes he thought epistemically circular arguments could serve. We then build on some of Alston’s remarks and introduce further limits to the usefulness of such arguments and introduce a new problem that stems from those limits. The upshot is that adopting Alston’s view that epistemically circular arguments can be used to justify their conclusions is more costly than even he thought.
6. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 41 > Issue: Supplement
Matthew McGrath, Alston on the Epistemic Advantages of the Theory of Appearing
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William Alston claimed that epistemic considerations are relevant to theorizing about the metaphysics of perceptual experience. There must be something about the intrinsic nature of a perceptual experience that explains why it is that it justifies one in believing what it does, rather than other propositions. A metaphysical theory of experience that provides the resources for such an explanation is to be preferred over ones that do not. Alston argued that the theory of appearing gains a leg up on its rivals, particularly sense-datum theory and adverbialism, precisely on this score. This paper examines these claims, along with the further question of whether the theory of appearing fares better epistemologically than the currently popular theory of intentionalism about perceptual experience. I conclude that while Alston is correct that the theory of appearing fares better than its traditional rivals (the sense datum theory and adverbialism), it does not clearly fare better than intentionalism. I further argue that Alston ignores a number of complexities in his account of how perceptual experience, construed as states of objects appearing certain ways to subjects, justifies perceptual beliefs.
7. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 41 > Issue: Supplement
Daniel J. McKaughan, Action-Centered Faith, Doubt, and Rationality
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Popular discussions of faith often assume that having faith is a form of believing on insufficient evidence and that having faith is therefore in some way rationally defective. Here I offer a characterization of action-centered faith and show that action-centered faith can be both epistemically and practically rational even under a wide variety of subpar evidential circumstances.
8. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 41 > Issue: Supplement
Thomas D. Senor, The Knowledge-As-Perception Account of Knowledge: A Prolegomenon
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William Alston once argued that justification is not necessary for knowledge. He was convinced of this because he thought that, in cases of clear perception, one could come to know that P even if one’s justification for believing P was defeated. The idea is that the epistemic strength of clear perception is sufficient to provide knowledge even where justification is lacking; perceiving (and believing) that P is sufficient for knowing that P. In this paper, I explore a claim about knowledge that is the opposite side of the coin from Alston’s position: clear perception (with belief) that P is necessary for knowledge. Taking my cue from John Locke, I examine the plausibility of a theory of knowledge that distinguishes justified true unGettiered belief that P from knowing that P. Although I don’t fully advocate this position, I argue that it has significant plausibility, and that the initially troubling consequences of the account are not as problematic as one might have suspected.
9. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 41 > Issue: Supplement
Eleonore Stump, The Atonement and the Problem of Shame
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The atonement has been traditionally understood to be a solution to the problem created by the human proneness to moral wrongdoing. This problem includes both guilt and shame. Although the problem of human guilt is theologically more central to the doctrine of the atonement, the problem of shame is something that the atonement might be supposed to remedy as well if it is to be a complete antidote to the problems generated by human wrongdoing. In this paper, I discuss the difference between guilt and shame; I explore the different varieties of shame, and I suggest ways to connect the atonement to a remedy for all the kinds of shame.