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Warrant: The Current Debate 1987–1988

Alvin Plantinga


Table of Contents


In a sweeping review of twentieth-century thought on epistemology, Alvin Plantinga finds little of value to the understanding of warrant. Plantinga argues that classical foundationalism is actually deontologism together with its consequent internalism and its emphasis on justification. Both internalism and its counterpart externalism have gone astray; not enough has been done to understand the nature of ‘this elusive quality or quantity which, or enough of which, stands between knowledge and mere true belief’. Roderick Chisholm believes, wrongly for Plantinga, that warrant is really justification, intimately connected with duty and responsibility. The author feels considerations of proper function demonstrate the inadequacy of BonJourian coherentism. Bayesianism ‘shows little promise as severally necessary and jointly sufficient conditions for warrant’. And he is critical of John Pollock, saying, ‘[I]t is perfectly possible for my epistemic norms to be incorrect norms and nowhere nearly sufficient for warrant.’ In conclusion, Plantinga is convinced that the notion of warrant is not explained well just by producing a set of severally necessary and jointly sufficient conditions. The second volume of his trilogy develops an alternative.
David Kahan
University of Glasgow
KEY WORDS: Warrant, Justification, Internalism, Externalism, Coherentism, Rationality, Reliabilism, Chisholm, BonJour, Deontologism, Epistemology, Foundationalism, Belief, Epistemic norms

Publication Data

OnlineOxford University Press1993
OriginalUniversity of Notre Dame Press1990
Templeton Press