Human belief formation is a perplexing matter. In general, contemporary Westerners like to think themselves as critical and independent thinkers who believe only in those things that are ‘real’. The scientific picture of our belief formation, however, is rather different. Most of our beliefs are based at least in part on subconscious processes and are susceptible to biases that are not necessarily truth-conducive. The results of cognitive science of religion suggest that the same processes that are in charge of everyday beliefs also affect religious beliefs. The obvious question is: do we have beliefs that we should not have?
In recent virtue epistemology, virtues have been invoked as a possible means to get around some of the problems concerning the definition of knowledge. This appeal to intellectual virtues may solve some conceptual problems but we still need to ask how such an approach helps us to form true beliefs in the real world. Is the acquisition of reliable, truth-conducive virtues possible for us?
THIS PUBLIC SEMINAR WILL BE HELD IN THE SUTRO ROOM OF TRINITY COLLEGE, OXFORD, AT 8:30PM ON THURSDAY 7th NOVEMBER 2013, WITH DRINKS AT 8:15PM.
DR OLLI-PEKKA VAINIO is a theologian and University Researcher in the Philosophical Psychology, Morality and Politics Research Unit at the University of Helsinki, Finland. His research interests include the history of ideologies and philosophy of religion. His most recent publications include Beyond Fideism: Negotiable Religious Identities (Ashgate, 2011) and Engaging Luther (Cascade, 2011). He is a member of the Center for Theological Inquiry, Princeton, NJ, and he was a visiting Fellow at the Faculty of Theology and Religion, Oxford University, in 2012.