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Paul Moser and the Antecedent Belief Criticism

by R. Daniel Dake

Paul Moser recently argued that one could have evidence for God even if one does not have a concept of God. This particular argument was discussed in Philosophia Christi’s most recent symposium on Moser’s religious epistemology. In particular, all the participants held a criticism – in one form or another – that I’ll call the antecedent belief criticism.

The crux of the criticism is the denial of the claim that one could have evidence for God if one did not have a prior concept of God. However, the criticism, I argue, misfires on the basis of not taking into account Moser’s earlier epistemological work in Knowledge and Evidence. Specifically, the criticism does not take into account Moser’s theory of evidence as it relates to what he dubs attention-attraction awareness and the contents of subjective nonconceptual perceptual experience.

The essay seeks to clarify what it is that Moser is claiming through his foundationalism in Knowledge and Evidence, and demonstrates how each form of the antecedent belief criticism fails to have impact. The article ends with direction for future debate concerning Moser’s religious epistemology. In particular, how strong is the analogy of the contents of experience in the transformative gift and the contents of subjective nonconceptual perceptual experience?

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