Religious Epistemological Disjunctivism

  • Kegan J. ShawEmail author


This paper explores religious belief in connection with epistemological disjunctivism. It applies recent advances in epistemological disjunctivism to the religious case for displaying an attractive model of specifically Christian religious belief. What results is a heretofore unoccupied position in religious epistemology—a view I call ‘religious epistemological disjunctivism’ (RED). My general argument is that RED furnishes superior explanations for the sort of ‘grasp of the truth’ which should undergird ‘matured Christian conviction’ of religious propositions. To this end I first display the more familiar perceptual epistemological disjunctivism (PED), contrasting it with both externalist and classically internalist views. This prepares the way for introducing RED with its own distinctive factive mental state operator—pneuming that p. In this second section I present the RED model, not failing to address a potential problem concerning religious disagreement. I also clarify RED’s distinctive internalist aspect, describing how it comports with contemporary internalist thinking in epistemology. I then move in section three to criticize externalist and classical internalist views, showing where they fail to make proper sense of the sort of knowing which should ground mature Christian conviction. Specifically, I highlight three intuitions which I think any theory of religious belief should capture: what I call the case-closed intuition, the good believer intuition, and the Plantingian platitude. This is all to set up for the final section where I argue that RED is superior for understanding proper religious believing—capturing the aforementioned intuitions.


Epistemological disjunctivism Religious epistemology Duncan Pritchard John McDowell Evidentialism Epistemological internalism Epistemological externalism 



Thanks to Adam Carter, Duncan Pritchard and an anonymous referee for comments on earlier drafts, and to the conferees of the 2015 Tyndale House Philosophy of Religion Workshop in Cambridge for their incisive criticisms. Also thanks to Brian Ballard and Kyle Scott for good conversation on these topics.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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