Religious Studies



Alston's epistemology of religious belief and the problem of religious diversity


JULIAN WILLARD a1
a1 Department of Theology and Religious Studies, King's College London, Strand, London, WC2R 2LS

Abstract

In this paper I examine William Alston's work on the epistemology of religious belief, focusing on the threat to the epistemic status of Christian belief presented by awareness of religious diversity. I argue that Alston appears to misunderstand the epistemic significance of the ‘practical rationality’ of the Christian mystical practice. I suggest that this error is due to a more fundamental misunderstanding, regarding the significance of practical rationality, in Alston's ‘doxastic practice’ approach to epistemology; an error that leads to arbitrariness among the class of rational doxastic practices. I suggest how one might remedy this weakness, with an additional, epistemic, criterion that rational doxastic practices must satisfy.