On Mathematical and Religious Belief, and on Epistemic Snobbery

Philosophy 91 (1):69-92 (2016)
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In this paper, I argue that religious belief is epistemically equivalent to mathematical belief. Abstract beliefs don't fall under ‘naive’, evidence-based analyses of rationality. Rather, their epistemic permissibility depends, I suggest, on four criteria: predictability, applicability, consistency, and immediate acceptability of the fundamental axioms. The paper examines to what extent mathematics meets these criteria, juxtaposing the results with the case of religion. My argument is directed against a widespread view according to which belief in mathematics is clearly rationally acceptable whereas belief in religion is not. The paper also aims to make some of the implications of contemporary mathematics available to philosophers working in different fields.



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Silvia Jonas
Universität Bamberg

Citations of this work

Rethinking Religious Epistemology.Amber L. Griffioen - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 14 (1):21-47.

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References found in this work

Mathematical truth.Paul Benacerraf - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (19):661-679.
What numbers could not be.Paul Benacerraf - 1965 - Philosophical Review 74 (1):47-73.
Epistemic permissiveness.Roger White - 2005 - Philosophical Perspectives 19 (1):445–459.
Rational animals.Donald Davidson - 1982 - Dialectica 36 (4):317-28.

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