A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance
About the Author
Alvin Plantinga is one of the most influential philosophers of the past half century. He is John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame. His work has focused on the knowledge and existence of God, as well as the broad field of epistemology (the theory of knowledge). His most important work is arguably his trilogy on “warrant,” which all together argue for the rationality (or warrant) of Christian belief.
Warrant and Proper Function is the sequel to Warrant: The Current Debate. In the latter, Plantinga critiques current epistemologies, varieties of deontological internalist theories as well as reliabilism. In this work, Plantinga lays out his positive theory of warrant by first defining it, then exploring the design plan, and lastly by evaluating metaphysical naturalism by comparison to proper functionalism.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Warrant: A First Approximation
Chapter 2: Warrant: Objections and Refinements
Chapter 3: Exploring the Design Plan: Myself and My Past
Chapter 4: Other Persons and Testimony
Chapter 5: Perception
Chapter 6: A Priori Knowledge
Chapter 7: Induction
Chapter 8: Epistemic Probability: Some Current Views
Chapter 9: Epistemic Conditional Probability: The Sober Truth
Chapter 10: Coherence, Foundations, and Evidence
Chapter 11: Naturalism Versus Proper Function?
Chapter 12: Is Naturalism Irrational?
Warrant: A First Approximation
Plantinga’s initial definition of warrant is thus: “in the paradigm cases of warrant, a belief B has warrant for S if and only if that belief is produced in S by his epistemic faculties working properly in an appropriate environment; and if both B and B* have warrant for S, B has more warrant than B* for S iff S believes B more firmly than B*. And knowledge requires both true belief, and a certain degree of warrant (a degree that may vary from context to context, so that knowledge may display a certain indexical character)” (p. 9). Thus proper function means to function properly according to the design plan, not to function normally in a statistical sense. He stresses that the cognitive faculties must be aimed at truth, not something else like survival or pleasure (16).
Warrant: Objections and Refinements
In chapter two, Plantinga gets more detailed about the design plan. He first distinguishes between the max plan and the design plan. The design plan is a set of triples: circumstance, response, and purpose or function (22). Cognitive faculties mature and evolve in accord with the design plan. The max plan, on the other hand, describes how a thing will function in any present structure and organization (23).[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
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