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Epistemic Justification [Paperback]

By Richard Swinburne (Author)
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Item description for Epistemic Justification by Richard Swinburne...

Richard Swinburne offers an original treatment of a question at the heart of epistemology: what makes a belief a rational one, or one which the believer is justified in holding? He maps the various totally different and purportedly rival accounts that philosophers give of epistemic justification (internalist and externalist), and argues that they are really accounts of different concepts. (He distinguishes (as most epistemologists do not) between synchronic justification (justification at a time) and diachronic justification (synchronic justification resulting from adequate investigation) - both internalist and externalist.) He argues that most kinds of justification are worth having because (for different reasons) they arew indicative of truth. However, it is only justification of internalist kinds that can guide a believer's actions. Swinburne goes on to show the usefulness of the probability calculus in elucidating how empirical evidence makes beliefs probably true: every proposition has an intrinsic probability (an a priori probability independent of empirical evidence) which may be increased or decreased by empirical evidence.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Oxford University Press, USA
Pages   262
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 11.84" Width: 5.32" Height: 0.56"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 25, 2001
Publisher   Oxford University Press
Edition  New  
ISBN  0199243794  
ISBN13  9780199243792  

Availability  0 units.

More About Richard Swinburne

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Richard Swinburne is Nolloth Professor of Christian Religion at the Oxford University and the author of many books on the philosophy of religion and the philosophy of Christianity.

Richard Swinburne has an academic affiliation as follows - Oxford University University of Oxford British Academy British Academy.

Richard Swinburne has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Great Debates in Philosophy

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Epistemology
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > General
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Religious
4Books > Subjects > Science > History & Philosophy > Science
5Books > Subjects > Science > History & Philosophy

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Would make a superb textbook  Nov 10, 2004
In Epistemic Justification, Richard Swinburne defends his version of epistemic internalism while also trying to account for the intuitions motivating externalist theories. This approach allows him to be at once original and irenic. He notes at the outset that our concepts of knowledge and justification are ambiguous: a belief may count as "justified" in one sense but not in another. Consequently, he argues, competing theories of knowledge should not be viewed as mutually exclusive, but as compatible accounts of "different kinds of justification." Nevertheless, while a variety of theories capture some sense in which a belief may be justified, only his version of doxastic foundationalism expresses the most important sort of justification, namely, justification in terms of what Swinburne calls "rightly basic" beliefs.

One of the strengths of the book is its breadth. Chapter 2 investigates the important but seldom-discussed link between epistemology and philosophy of mind. Chapters 3 and 4 discuss the foundations and applications of probability theory. The book's appendix discusses the problem of old evidence, and several endnotes treat issues such as the generality objection to reliabilism, subjective and objective Bayesianism, and naturalized epistemology. Swinburne does an admirable job of situating his theory within the larger epistemological picture, and indeed within the larger philosophical picture. Another strength of the book is its thoroughness and meticulous attention to detail. The whole book displays Swinburne's penchant for making distinctions, for instance, in the first chapter's taxonomy of the varieties of internalism and externalism. He exploits these distinctions to great effect, especially in chapters 6, 7, and 8, where he argues for his theory.

One weakness of the book is its uncritical reliance on ordinary language and on various "principles of rationality." Swinburne says little in defense of these, and consequently will convince few readers who do not share his intuitions. Also, I wish that Swinburne had discussed Alvin Plantinga's views at greater length. After all, Swinburne and Plantinga are the towering figures of analytic philosophy of religion, representing drastically different approaches to belief in God. Though Swinburne does discuss some of Plantinga's views here (chapter 5) and elsewhere (cf. Religious Studies 37), this book seems incomplete without a sustained treatment of reformed epistemology. In fact, it is disappointing that the book does not say more about the epistemology of religion in general, since this area of expertise sets Swinburne apart from many others writing on epistemology today (particularly internalists).

This book surveys contemporary epistemology, presents a clear, thorough account of justification, and serves as a useful guide to the epistemological views of Britain's leading natural theologian. Because of its thoroughness, depth, and originality, it would serve as an excellent textbook or as an introduction to epistemology for the educated general reader.

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