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Plantinga and the Naturalized Epistemology of Thomas Reid*

  • D. D. Todd (a1)

Extract

These two books are Volumes 1 and 2 of a three-volume work; the projected third volume, Warranted Christian Belief, has yet to be published. In the first volume, Warrant: The Current Debate, Plantinga surveys the current chaos in epistemology stemming from the breakdown of classical foundationalism and examines critically the efforts of several contemporary philosophers to introduce some order into the field, most particularly Roderick Chisholm, William Alston, John Pollock, Laurence BonJour and, to a lesser extent, others such as Richard Foley, Fred Dretske and Alvin Goldman. In this volume, Plantinga is trying not only to put out of play the views he rejects but also to provide the reader with anticipations of his own views in Warrant and Proper Function. Although there is an immense amount of overlap between these books, and there is much cross-referencing, they are not continuous; each can be read entirely independently of the other. Even should, through some misfortune, the projected third volume fail to be written, these two volumes are certain to stand for a long time as exceptionally important works. Warrant and Proper Function, in particular, is likely to generate a veritable Niagara of Ph.D. theses in a field many had come to see as having reached the point of diminishing nits.

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Notes

1 As of July, 1993.

2 Plantinga might retort that he has already done so in his 1974 book The Nature of Necessity (Oxford: Clarendon Press). But a torrent of anti-possible-worlds criticism hasflowedfrom the philosophical wellsprings since then, so Plantinga owes us more.

3 Patricia, Churchland, “Epistemology in the Age of Neuroscience,” Journal of Philosophy, 89, 10 (October 1987): 544–53; reference at p. 548.

4 Letter to William Graham Down, July 1881, in The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin Including an Autobiographical Chapter, edited by Francis, Darwin (London: John Murray, 1887), Vol. 1, pp. 315–16.

5 Quine, W. V. O., Ontological Relativity and Other Essays (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969), p. 126.

6 Daniel, Dennett, “True Believers,” in Scientific Explanation, edited by Heath, A. (New York: Oxford University Press), 1981.

7 Thomas, Reid, Essay IV, in The Philosophical Works of Thomas Reid, edited by Hamilton, Sir William (1895; rpt. Hildesheim, Zurich and Newpark: Georg Olms, 1983), pp. 447–48.

8 Louise, Marcil-Lacoste, Claude Buffier and Thomas Reid: Two Common-Sense Philosophers (Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1982).

9 See note 7 above.

10 I want to thank an anonymous reviewer of an earlier version of this paper for his very helpful criticisms and comments. He has saved me from considerable embarrassment.

* Alvin, Plantinga, Warrant: The Current Debate (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), xii + 228 pp., $27.95, hereafter WCD; and Alvin Plantinga, Warrant and Proper Function (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), xii + 243 pp., $27.95, hereafter WPF. Page references are to these works.

Plantinga and the Naturalized Epistemology of Thomas Reid*

  • D. D. Todd (a1)

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