Summary: Some philosophers complain that evidence shows something to be likely to be true but it can’t do that unless there is evidence for itself and it verifies itself.  They say this is no good for you cannot vouch for yourself, and nothing can.  They also say our reason is not the iron criteria of truth for we assume it is programmed right and we don't know that.  Alvin Plantinga and Anthony Kenny thought along those lines.  They came up with the idea that you need blind faith that your evidence is valid and that reason works.  They said this faith is rational for without it you will believe nothing.  What is Faith? by Kenny is our source here.

Kenny says it is clearly rational to believe things like reason is right though there is no evidence for this belief.  He explains that there is no evidence for what is self-evident (page 9). An example is that if you see a pig flying you see it.  You cannot prove it was real or not but you know you seen it.

The self-evident thing protects reason from being based on a circle.  It is its own evidence.  There is no evidence for it in the sense of evidence outside of it.  That is okay.  Evidence is evidence.  By evidence Kenny means outside evidence.

If you think there is no such thing as evidence, of either type, then reason is declared irrational.  It does not come from anything other then guessing and one guess is as good as another.

You can’t prove by reason that reason is right if you think there is no evidence. But at least if you say reason is true for reason says so it is more reasonable than saying reason is true because I think or guess that it is true.

If we use circular reasoning to verify reason then we must keep thoughts and guesses and especially feelings out of it and keep the focus on reason. Reason backs up reason and to use anything else or anything additional is being unreasonable.
Plantinga and Anthony Kenny are in agreement that the idea that rational belief is based on evidence and sees the evidence as it is, is wrong (page 18).
Kenny believes that it is not credulity but rationality to believe that you are awake now and not dreaming, that people die and that Australia exists though you have no evidence (page 13). That is something like Plantinga would say. Kenny says the existence of Australia is not based on evidence for you have never been there and is still a reasonable belief. In brief, anything you don’t experience is not based on evidence. The reasons for this position are that seeing Australia on maps and having friends there, is weak evidence and that my reasons for believing in Australia have been forgotten and twisted and altered in my memory.

What is wrong with this is his presupposition that testimony is not evidence or good evidence. That is an extreme doctrine. Even if you testify to yourself that is bad evidence but it is still evidence.  It is not totally without value.

If I adopt that extreme view, anything I remember might not be a memory at all for it is me testifying to myself that such and such has happened. Perhaps I dreamed something and mistook it for a memory or maybe I have ignored evidence against it and forgotten I have done this.

People do lie but they should be believed when there is no reason to think that they are lying. And it is not disbelief to check them out first for your attitude could be, “I trust them but since trust is not full certainty I am entitled to make sure if I want to trust”. Even if the evidence for Australia and things in the same category is weak evidence it is still evidence.
We do have evidence for Australia. For instance, why would everybody make up Australia? If there is no evidence for these things then there is no evidence at all. It is alarming that great minds can be so far wrong.  Do they believe in evidence? If they don’t is that why they say such wrong things?
Even if all or most belief is blind and is still rational there will still be beliefs that are more rational to blindly believe than others just like some absurdities are sillier and more irrational than others.

It will be more rational to believe in recent memories than in ones further back. If they are believed without reasons then it follows that it is irrational to trust last week and before’s memories in serious matters at all. So the doctor must prefer going through the medical diary instead of letting memory dictate what to do in an emergency. By the time the info is obtained the person will be dead! Even though memories are most probably right the doctor cannot take the risk of killing the patient with the wrong treatment when he has no reason for trusting in memory at all.

Plantinga and Kenny believe that evidence exists but how can it when all evidence is perceived by the memory and the memory is you testifying to yourself that something has happened when they reject testimony as evidence on its own?

Plantinga and Kenny need to accept the traditional views that there are self-evident truths that are their own reason for believing in them and that rational belief is apportioned to the evidence.
Plantinga and Kenny have developed their beliefs about rational belief in the hope that what most people want to be rational belief is made rational belief.  Life is not like that.  Preferring x to be true does not make it rational to affirm x.  They patronisingly feel it is too strict to ask people to believe whatever has the most evidence for it.  Plantinga has a bad motive, it is all contrived to get you to affirm his unevidenced Christian God.
It is mad to say we should believe because we need beliefs. It is better to hold that if we need beliefs we will have them and they can't come out of nowhere so we need to have reasons for our beliefs.
It is mad to say that it is reasonable to believe because we need beliefs for reasonable implies that there must be reasons that we have for holding these beliefs to be true that show they are true or probably true.
Needing to know anything does not imply that we know it if we believe it. I can rationally believe something that is in fact untrue therefore I can think I need to know something and be wrong. And why should I listen to anybody telling me I am wrong when they have no reasons for their own beliefs?

What sense does it make for Kenny to tell me it is rational to believe in Australia if I have no evidence for it when I don’t need that belief? He is really saying belief in Australia is reasonable for Australia exists. But against this we must remember that one can have reasonable faith in something that is false. Many say that if I believe in what surrounds me and is adjacent to me then that is all I need. Others say that is unacceptable for it is not enough. Religious people want you to believe that it is more important that you accept that Jesus died on the cross and rose again than that you believe the fire you set in the morning can burn you. Religious belief is certainly well within the category of belief that isn't necessary.
The sceptic thinks that nothing can be known. The sceptic doesn’t believe in reason or the senses or anything at all. The sceptic is supposed to believe that there is no possibility of believing or knowing anything apart from this belief. The sceptic has a reason for this belief and it is that nothing can prove itself to him. Scepticism is actually better than Plantinga and Kenny’s system for at least it has a reason for its foundational idea. Plantinga and Kenny can’t think of any reason for verifying their foundational idea that reason and the senses are valid conveyers of truth.
Some say that you need an infinity of arguments to prove anything. To prove a cat exists you need to prove that it had a mother and you need to prove the mother exists and so on and on. But if you can prove reason and you don’t need an infinite regress of arguments to do that then every belief you have will rest on the foundation of reason. Reason will be the centre and it proves itself and everything comes out of it like spokes on a bicycle wheel.
If the criteria given by Kenny is right and there is no justification for it then it follows that the more reasons that can be thought for the defence of the criteria the better. It is better than nothing. The more reasons the better. This would imply that an infinite trail of arguments is necessary. But we cannot do this for we are only finite creatures.
The criteria does not absolve anybody from the duty to provide evidence and demolish the evidence against what is probably true except in regard to the criteria itself.


Anthony Kenny and Plantinga hold that circular reasoning or belief without evidence (which is the same thing) is a rational basis for faith if it is about what is called self-evident.  Self-evident is something that the senses and memory say is fact.   Faith in reason is made possible.  Now that we have reason we can affirm that rational belief is anything that can be defended by argument, investigation or experimentation.

One error in this is they go too far.  Self-verification is bad evidence but it might still be right and have to do.  They think it is not evidence at all.  Another error is in failing to see that the self-evident is that which has no outside evidence but is its own evidence.

They agree with, "If I say that science is true because nature does not change and perform an experiment that proves these, I can say that nature does not change for science is true and my experiment is true for nature does not change. This is a vicious circle with an experiment or support in it so this would be the best and most rational form of a vicious circle. Its form is, “Science verifies X and X verifies science because science is true”. "  But our recognition that a bad testimony will have to do avoids the circle.  We must avoid circles a all costs.
So, according to them everything then is believed without reasons when belief without reason is the reason for believing in it. This leads to the absurdity of saying this is a reason for believing this and that is a reason for believing that but how can they be reasons when there is no reason why they are reasons?

Their errors go back to Descartes and Kant.  Both failed to see that just because we don't know all about anything we cannot have confidence.  The best answer is that you know what a jigsaw shows even if most of the pieces are missing.


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