Rationality and the Good: Critical Essays on the Ethics and Epistemology of Robert Audi

By Mark Timmons; John Greco et al. | Go to book overview

11
Audi on Nondoxastic Faith

WILLIAM P. ALSTON


I

In several publications1 Audi has presented and defended a conception of propositional faith, faith that so-and-so, such as faith that God exercises providence over our lives, that is different from belief that so-and-so, and hence is termed nondoxastic faith (hereinafter ‘NDF’). He argues that philosophers concerned with the cognitive side of religious faith have focused too exclusively on religious belief. He does not deny that belief has a place there, but he insists that religious propositional faith also takes at least one other form, a nondoxastic form, which he is concerned to delineate and to display its important role in the religious life.

At least one powerful critique of Audi on this point has sought to strike at the heart of his position by denying both that something other than belief can play the cognitive role in religious faith that Audi assigns it and that where Audi finds NDF it is really belief that, contrary to his asseverations, is what is within his sights.2 My critique will be less radical than this. I agree with Audi that there is a kind of positive attitude toward religious, and other, propositions, that is distinct from belief, the religious form of which can do pretty much the same job in religion that religious belief does. Where I dissent from him is in denying that he has sufficiently identified this nondoxastic propositional attitude. It’s not that he has said too little about it. On the contrary, as I shall show, he says a great deal. But (1) I am at a loss to find any propositional attitude that satisfies all of his specifications; (2) Even if I take some subset of those specifications, it seems to me to fall short of supplying an adequate identification of anything that satisfies all of them. They leave it mysterious what it is, if anything, that fits all of these descriptions; and finally, (3) I do have a candidate that we can characterize enough to be sure that there is such a thing and what thing it is, and that is a nondoxastic positive propositional attitude toward religious and other propositions. This is what I call acceptance, following Cohen 1992 though with some differences. My contention will be that acceptance does most of what Audi is looking for with his NDF, that it provides an unquestionably genuine propositional attitude

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