Newman the Fallibilist

American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 97 (1):29-47 (2023)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The role of certitude in our mental lives is, to put it mildly, controversial. Many current epistemologists (including epistemologists of religion) eschew certitude altogether. Given his emphasis on certitude, some have maintained that John Henry Newman was an infallibilist about knowledge. In this paper, we argue that a careful examination of his thought (especially as seen in the Grammar of Assent) reveals that he was an epistemic fallibilist. We first clarify what we mean by fallibilism and infallibilism. Second, we explain why some have read Newman as an infallibilist. Third, we offer two arguments that Newman is at least a fallibilist in a weak sense. In particular, the paradox he seeks to resolve in the Grammar and his dispute with John Locke both indicate that he is at least a weak fallibilist. We close with a consideration of whether Newman is a fallibilist in a much stronger sense as well.

Similar books and articles

A Saint for Our Times: Newman on Faith, Fallibility, and Certitude.Logan Paul Gage - 2020 - Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 23 (2):60-76.
Two Views of Religious Certitude.Stephen Maitzen - 1992 - Religious Studies 28 (1):65 - 74.
Fallibilism.Stephen Hetherington - 2005 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Newman.Frederick D. Aquino - 2004 - Newman Studies Journal 1 (1):79-80.
Small Stakes Give You the Blues: The Skeptical Costs of Pragmatic Encroachment.Clayton Littlejohn - forthcoming - Manuscrito: Revista Internacional de Filosofía.
Cardinal Newman on the Indefectibility of Certitude.Jay Newman - 1978 - Laval Théologique et Philosophique 34 (1):15-20.


Added to PP

339 (#59,903)

6 months
205 (#13,244)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Logan Paul Gage
Franciscan University of Steubenville

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

The skeptic and the dogmatist.James Pryor - 2000 - Noûs 34 (4):517–549.
How to be a fallibilist.Stewart Cohen - 1988 - Philosophical Perspectives 2:91-123.
How to think about fallibilism.Baron Reed - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 107 (2):143-157.
Epistemology Idealized.Robert Pasnau - 2013 - Mind 122 (488):987-1021.

View all 9 references / Add more references