Does Religious Belief Infect Philosophical Analysis?
Tobia (Kevin Patrick)
Source: SSRN, downloaded 29/05/2015
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. One popular conception of natural theology holds that certain purely rational arguments are insulated from empirical inquiry and independently establish conclusions that provide evidence, justification, or proof of God’s existence.
  2. Yet, some raise suspicions that philosophers and theologians’ personal religious beliefs inappropriately affect these kinds of arguments.
  3. I present an experimental test of whether philosophers and theologians’ argument analysis is influenced by religious commitments.
  4. The empirical findings suggest religious belief affects philosophical analysis and offer a challenge to theists and atheists, alike: re-evaluate the scope of natural theology’s conclusions or acknowledge and begin to address the influence of religious belief.

Sections
  1. Religious Belief and Philosophical Argument
  2. The Modal1 Ontological Argument
  3. An Experiment
  4. The Robustness of the Empirical Results and Challenge
  5. From Magisterial to Ministerial Reason
  6. Conclusion

Comments
  1. Religious Belief and Philosophical Argument
    • "Bourget (David) & Chalmers (David) - What Do Philosophers Believe?" (Section 3.9 / Table 10) shows that greatest correlation between Specialisation and view is comfortably that between Philosophy of Religion and Theism.
    • Bourget & Chalmers’ take on this is “These results suggest that there is such a thing as specialist opinion in philosophy, whether or not specialists are more likely to be right.” This remark applies to all the correlations found, so doesn’t imply any anti-religious bias.
    • My view is that – in the case of Theism – it’s (these days) such as a polarising view that – in general – a person would only adopt a specialism in the Philosophy of Religion if they had a special interest in Theism, which would only tend to be if they
      1. are a theist, who remains convinced by the arguments
      2. had been a theist but is no longer convinced by the arguments and thinks the issue important enough (or had sufficient “sunk costs” in the subject) to persist with, or
      3. are atheists who consider theism to be a virus that needs eradicating and consider it their public duty to crusade for this end.
      The bulk of philosophers (these days) are probably atheists or agnostics (Bourget & Chalmers only have 10% down as “decided theists”) and consider Philosophy of Religion not something worthy of their attention.
    • So, I don’t think the correlation between Philosophy of Religion and espousal of Theism is a sinister (or salutary) connection.
    • However, Tobia only uses it as a motivator for his Experimental Philosophy exercise – which (while unmotivated in my view) does reveal bias in the evaluation of arguments – both by theists and atheists – and therefore needs investigation.
  2. The Modal2 Ontological Argument
  3. An Experiment
  4. The Robustness of the Empirical Results and Challenge
  5. From Magisterial to Ministerial Reason
  6. Conclusion

Comment:

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)



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