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: The Current Debate summarizes twentieth century epistemologies and their understanding of epistemic justification and/or warrant. He critiques each view, including internalism (classic internalism, coherentism, foundationalism) and externalism (reliabilism). Most defeater examples involve an example whereby someone’s cognitive faculties or their cognitive environment dysfunctions, but their belief is still justified or warranted by these other epistemologies (p. 212). A belief cannot be warranted if it is formed by dysfunctional cognitive faculties. This paves the way for him to expound his Proper Functionalism in Warrant and Proper Function.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Justification, Internalism, and Deontology
Chapter 2: Classical Chisholmian Internalism
Chapter 3: Post‐Classical Chisholmian Internalism
Chapter 4: Coherentism
Chapter 5: BonJourian Coherentism
Chapter 6: Bayesian Coherentism and Warrant
Chapter 7: Bayesian Coherentism and Rationality
Chapter 8: Pollockian Quasi‐Internalism
Chapter 9: Reliabilism
Chapter 10: Prospect and Retrospect
Justification, Internalism, and Deontology
The first chapter draws a direct line between internalism and deontological justification, a tradition stemming from Descartes and Locke (11-15). Internalism is that “what determines whether a belief is warranted for a person are factors or states in some sense internal to that person; warrant conferring properties are in some way internal to the subject or cognizer” (5). Plantinga provides three internalists motifs drawn from the history of Internalism (19-29). First, epistemic justification is entirely up to the cognizer. It is one’s subjective duty to determine what is right, which avoids blame. Second, one’s objective and subjective duty coincide. What one ought to do (objective duty) is the same as what one must do to avoid blame (subjective duty). Third, the cognizer has guaranteed access to whether a belief is justified and to what makes it justified. He concludes “justification, Internalism, and epistemic deontology are properly seen as a closely related triumvirate: Internalism flows from deontology and is unmotivated without it, and justification is at bottom and originally a deontological notion” (29).
Classical Chisholmian Internalism
Chapter 2 discusses classical chisholmian internalism (Roderick Chisholm). Plantinga’s contention is that, given Chisholm’s definition of warrant as the matter of fulfilling epistemic obligation, his epistemic principles are internally inconsistent. He only examines propositions 1 and 5 of Chisolm here, although he has criticized 2-5 elsewhere.[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
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Warrant: The Current Debate