This post is a continuation of my first post on this blog, which can be found here.
Perry Robinson has attacked my use of Alvin Plantinga's epistemology to warrant the Biblical canon as properly basic.
"As an aside, the appeal to proper basicality isn’t going to help you. First, why can’t someone just as easily hold that the Great Pumpkin is properly basic? Why can’t David simply retort that his Catholicism is properly basic? How does a belief being properly basic imply that it is true or amount to a reason for thinking that it is? And can one take a belief to be properly basic and it turn out that it is not in fact so for them? If so, what work concerning warrant has proper basicality done for us? None."
The purpose of this post is to respond to all of these objections and to defend my previous post that Protestantism is more rational than Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.
Response to Objection 1:First, why can’t someone just as easily hold that the Great Pumpkin is properly basic?
If the great pumpkin was similar to the story of Santa or the tooth fairy then certainly young children who believed their parents and were functioning properly (and fulfilled the other necessary conditions I laid out) would be warranted. But of course as they aged they would see with obvious defeaters that such a belief is entirely unwarranted. Most people in our culture find out that Santa doesn't actually exists because they have no reason to believe it and they have a massive defeater, namely, that it is tradition in our culture to pretend with our children that a overweight man gives us Christmas present if we are good. Once the adult who is functioning properly realizes this to be the case they will of course give up their belief in Santa. The problem is I don't see how the great pumpkin or Santa objection is a threat to proper functionalism. After all properly basic beliefs can be extremely fallible and subject to revision. So no problem here!
Response to Objection 2:Why can’t David simply retort that his Catholicism is properly basic?
He could say this. I have never said that he couldn't say that the church authority is properly basic. The problem is this: Why do you need the church if the scripture is already God's words and that are self-attesting by the Holy Spirit (which forms in us beliefs that fulfill all the necessary conditions that I have given in my previous post). This falls into my ockham's razor argument on a previous post I have made.
Response to Objection 3: How does a belief being properly basic imply that it is true or amount to a reason for thinking that it is?
This third objection is actually two objections. A belief being properly basic implies that it is true because we have a properly basic belief that our faculties are functioning properly to produce mostly true beliefs rather than false ones. The second objection on this part assumes that we need a reason for basic beliefs and thus assumes some form of internalism. Since this theory of knowledge that Reformed epistemologists hold to is externalistic then to assume internalistic view of warrant is to just beg the very question at hand.
Response to Objection 4: And can one take a belief to be properly basic and it turn out that it is not in fact so for them?
I don't even know if this is an objection. This is just asking the question: that can properly basic beliefs be fallible? But of course Plantinga and other Reformed epsiteemologists think so. I happen to think so as well. But it's hard to see how one being possibly mistaken about a properly basic belief could constitute a defeater for things that we know fallibly in properly basic way.
Response to Objection 5: If so, what work concerning warrant has proper basicality done for us? None.
This argument assumes that in order for beliefs to be basic we ought to have infallible justification for them. So in other words Perry is arguing that basic beliefs are worthless if we do not know them infallibly. But my question is this: Why think that warrant and knowledge of properly basic beliefs requires infallible justification? I can see no reason. It seems to me that the statement that properly basic beliefs ought to be infallible in order for us to have knowledge or to be useful is neither infallibly properly basic or something that can be inferred by these infallible basic beliefs. So it seems to me that this requirement is self-referentially incoherent. The question that I think Perry or any internalistic epistemologist cannot answer is this: How do we know about the existence of other minds? What about the existence of the external world? Or that our memory is reliable? Or that our sense perception is reliable? Or that we have existed longer than 5 minutes? What about the problem of induction? These answers internalistic (and especially infalliblist on justification) cannot answer. Thus, this sadly and ultimately leads to some form of skepticism.
Perry's questions of doubt about Reformed epistemology seem to be wanting at best. Thus, the Protestant can hold up the Bible and say that he is warranted in thinking that the Bible is the word of God. Further that since this word of God is self-attesting we have no need for the church to justify the canon. In fact such a move would seem to be positing unnecessary entities and thus violating the principle of Ockham's razor.