Contemporary Perspectives in Philosophy of Religion
Edited By Sebastian Kolodziejczyk and Janusz Salamon
First Person and Third Person Reasons and Religious Epistemology
I. The Distinction between First Person and Third Person Reasons
I assume that believing p is a state in which I have settled for myself whether p. An epistemic reason is something on the basis of which I can settle for myself whether p in so far as my goal is truth, not benefit or some other practical or moral aim. I want to argue that there are two kinds of epistemic reasons, one irreducibly first personal, the other third personal, and that attending to the distinction illuminates a host of philosophical problems, including several that have special importance for philosophy of religion.
What I mean by theoretical reasons for believing p are facts that are logically or probabilistically connected to the truth of p. They are facts (or propositions) about states of the world or experiences which, taken together, give a cumulative case for or against the fact that p (or the truth of p).1 They are not intrinsically connected to believing. We call them reasons because a reasonable person who comes to believe them and grasps their logical relations to p will see them as reasons for p. They can be shared with others – laid out on the table, so they are third personal. They are relevant from anyone’s point of view. In fact, they do not require a point of view to be reasons. The connections between theoretical reasons and what they are...
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