Evidentialism refers to a theory of justification. The theory of justification is considered part of epistemology. It is aimed at understand the justification of propositions and beliefs. Epistemologists are always concerned with different types of epistemic features or beliefs like justification and probability. Another epistemic feature is warrant. Warrant is the most common used type. Justification refers to the reason someone holds a certain belief. It also refers to an explanation why one belief is true. If a person makes a claim and the other person doubts the claim (Clark 1990). The person doubting the claim is supposed to provide justification.
He is supposed to provide an evidence of senses. When providing justification the person is supposed to provide authoritative testimony and use a logical deduction to justify what one has said. The theory of justification is based on whether a belief is justified or not. The justification of a belief depends on the evidence one presents. In most cases, Evidentialism is applied to belief, but it can also be applied to doxastic attitude. Developing Evidentialism based on doxastic attitude of beliefs comes from conee and Feldman. Belief (B) towards proposition P is justified for subject S at time t if and only if belief B is inline with the evidence S provided at time
Most people have criticized the Evidentialism method. Some argue that a belief is justified only if the evidence provided by a person supports the belief. For instance, if a person approaches a batter box believing that he will strike a home run in spite of him being drunk and having a low performance. However, he later realizes that his luck to hit the home run will change and increase his probability of hitting the target if he is confident. In this case, the critics claim that the peoples belief to hit the home run is justified even if the evidence provided does not support the belief. Hence, the critics claim that the belief can be justified even if the evidence used is not inline with the belief.
The advocates for Evidentialism theory do not agree with this criticism. This is because a belief is always justified if one provides the right evidence. The advocates respond to the criticism above by differentiating different types of justifications like pragramatic justification, prudential justification and epistemic .In the example above, the persons belief is pragramatically justified that he believes in hitting the target. On the other hand, the belief is not epistemically justified. In this case, the belief may be justified so as to achieve another goal (Mittag 2009).
Moreover, other people argue that Evidentialism shows that beliefs based on faith are not justified. Thus, the Evidentialism does not justify the religious belief correctly. Advocates of Evidentialism believe that the content of the evidence is not important. They believe that the evidence is only used to make valid justification towards a proposition. Some of the critics have opposed this idea because the content of the evidence is important. For instance, the advocates of uncertainty theory have disagreed with the claim above. This is because a Perons evidence can be approved or disapproved if one is not sure of the evidence (Conee &Feldman 2004).
Conee,E.B.,&Feldman,R.Evidentialism: essays in epistemology.Oxford University Press, 2004
Clark,K.J.Return to reason: a critique of Enlightenment evidentialism and defense of reason and belief in God.Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1990
Mittag,D.M.Evidentialism: concepts, content, and epistemological unity.University of Rochester. Dept. of Philosophy, 2009
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