Title: Revisiting ReligiousLuck: Can a True Religious Belief Sourced in Testimony Merit The Kind of CreditNeeded for Knowledge?
Abstract: In this paper I addressan old problem that has recently taken on a new and stronger form. This versionof religious luck says religious beliefs sourced in testimony from one’s earlyteaching or traditions are tainted by knowledge-undermining luck. Acquiringtrue beliefs by this method, so the argument goes, is the result of mereaccident since many others believe otherwise yet formed their beliefs the sameway. After all, since one’s place and time of birth is something one has nocontrol over, one doesn’t merit any credit for getting the truth. Therefore,even if a religious beliefs sourced in testimony turns out to be true, it fallsshort of knowledge. In this paper I draw from recent work in the epistemologyof disagreement and testimony to explain how this skeptical threat can bedissolved.
The paper waswell received. I received some helpful advice on how tostrengthen the paper as result of interacting with John Greco, Nate King, GregGanssle, and Steve Sherman.
The keynote speakers at the conference were Lara Buchak (Associate Professor ofPhilosophy at University of Californian, Berkeley) and John Greco (Leonard andElizabeth Eslick Chair in Philosophy at Saint Louis University). Buchak spokeon what rationality requires in cases involving disagreement. Specifically,whether or not one is rational to yield to an authority and act on thatauthority's say so despite having contrary evidence. She argued for whyone can maintain rationality by deferring to an authority in one's communitydespite not understanding the reasons supporting the authority's beliefs andbeing aware of others, from different communities, that disagree with theauthority's belief.
Greco spoke on the epistemology of testimony. Specifically, he argued for a modelof testimonial knowledge that explains how knowledge can be transferred fromspeaker to hearer despite being accompanied by additional testimony that isgarbage--that is, beliefs that are irrational,superstitious, self-deceiving and/or false. This model explains how atestifier can transmit both "testimony and garbage together." Greco,then, applies the model to the transmission of religious knowledge which,sometimes, gets communicated alongside garbage. But such instances of testimonycan still communicate religious knowledge.