We want to be in proper relationship with the world. In other words, we want to have as many true beliefs as possible, or, at least, fewer false beliefs. We hope the ideas we hold will suit us well for adapting to the demands of our social, moral, and physical environments.
This is also true when it comes to religious beliefs, but how do we discern which ones are justified true beliefs and which ones are wrongheaded?
The numberless instances of religious disagreements should cause us to seriously doubt our religious truth claims and to exercise caution when interpreting our personal religious experiences. When it comes to settling religious disagreements, how do we determine who qualifies as an epistemic peer? How seriously ought we to take the religious views of other people?
In this episode, Jeffrey Howard talks with Helen De Cruz, the Danforth Chair in the Humanities at Saint Louis University. Her research is concerned with the questions of why and how humans can deal with abstract, difficult to grapple concepts such as God or mathematical objects, and how we can engage in creative endeavors such as art and philosophy.
She is also working on the question of how philosophy can help in discussions in the public sphere, including her recent monograph Religious Disagreement. She has received grants from the British Academy, the American Philosophical Association, and most recently, the John Templeton Foundation for a study on the origins of human-specific morality. Her work has been published in journals such as Philosophical Studies, the American Philosophical Quarterly, and the Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
Religious experts are supposed to have privileged knowledge about religion. Yet, philosophers, including philosophers of religion, tend to hold a variety of views that mirror those of the general public. If that’s the case, are they really that expert? Furthermore, what do we do about religious disagreement among laypeople? What are we to make of the knowledge gap between novices and experts? And how can we benefit by taking the conveyed religious experiences and beliefs of other people seriously?
Religious Disagreement by Helen De Cruz (2019)
Why We Need Religion by Stephen Asma (2018)
The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James (1902)
The Joy of Religion: Exploring the Nature of Pleasure in Spiritual Life by Ariel Glucklich (2020)
”What Should We Do When We Disagree?” by Jennifer Lackey (2008)
“Experts and Peer Disagreement” by Jennifer Lackey (2018)
Epistemic Authority: A Theory of Trust, Authority, and Autonomy in Belief by Linda Zagzebski (2012)
“Numerical Cognition and Mathematical Realism” by Helen De Cruz (2016)
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Jeffrey is the founder and editor-in-chief of Erraticus. He is a former mental health professional and educator, whose research interests center around localism, American pragmatism, and bioregionalism. He covers, education, philosophy, psychology, and religion. He lives in Southern Appalachia.