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The Challenge of Contemporary Evidentialism

  • Zain Ali
Part of the Palgrave Frontiers in Philosophy of Religion book series (PFPR)

Abstract

The reflective Muslim, I maintain, is capable of satisfying the constraints associated with the Jamesian account of faith. That is, if the reflective Muslim has a passionally caused belief in the existence of God that decides a genuine option, and if the passional cause of the belief and its contents are morally acceptable, then believing beyond the evidence seems justified. There are also good reasons to think that the Jamesian account can be welcomed within the tradition of Islamic theism. Firstly, the Jamesian account allows us to interpret al-Ghazālī’s resolution of his crisis in a way that is philosophically and theologically viable. To recall, al-Ghazālī’s account of faith focuses on achieving certainty; however, the demand for certainty, we observed, ran counter to his acceptance of the limitations of human cognition and also ran the risk of cognitive idolatry. A Jamesian reading of al-Ghazālī’s resolution involves shifting our focus away from the demand for certainty. The Jamesian reading interprets al-Ghazālī’s illumination experience as involving a passional cause of belief, and it is the passionally caused belief which helps resolve the question of whether human reason is trustworthy. This interpretation can also be seen as providing a reading of al-Ghazālī’s resolution of scepticism. The resolution is not predicated on the achievement of certainty, or the elimination of doubt; rather, it is a resolution at the level of practical commitment.

Keywords

Sufficient Reason Reactive Attitude Large Reward Adequate Evidence Forced Option 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Jonathan E. Adler, Beliefs Own Ethics (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2002), p. 52.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Jonathan E. Adler, ‘William James and What Cannot Be Believed’, The Harvard Review of Philosophy, 2005, XII(1): 70.Google Scholar
  3. 25.
    See Bishop, ‘Faith as Doxastic Venture’, Religious Studies, 2002, 38(4): 471–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 37.
    Peter Strawson, ‘Freedom and Resentment’, Proceedings of the British Academy, 1962, 48: 187–211.Google Scholar
  5. 48.
    To defend the view that ‘one should assert p only if one knows p’, Adler cites Timothy Williamson’s Knowledge and its Limits (Oxford University Press, 2002). According to Williamson, there are reasons to think that: (a) knowledge is purely a mental state, and (b) that one’s total evidence is simply one’s total knowledge. For a response to these claims, see Adam Leite, ‘On Williamson’s Arguments that Knowledge is a Mental State’, Ratio (new series), June 2005, XVIII(2): 165–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Zain Ali 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zain Ali
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AucklandNew Zealand

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