Epistemic Self-Trust and the <i>Consensus Gentium</i> Argument

Linda Zagzebski

in Evidence and Religious Belief

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199603718
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729287 | DOI:
Epistemic Self-Trust and the Consensus Gentium Argument

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This chapter argues that epistemic self-trust is more basic than what we take to be reasons for belief, and that consistent self-trust commits us to trust in others. Epistemic self-trust is rationally inescapable, given that the search for reasons leads to epistemic circularity, and the more basic fact that we have no way to tell that there is any connection at all between reasons and truth without trust in ourselves when we are epistemically conscientious. The chapter then argues that when we are conscientious we will inevitably come to believe that other persons have the same quality of conscientiousness in virtue of which we trust ourselves, and so we owe them epistemic trust in advance of reasons for thinking they are reliable. The fact that someone else has a belief gives me a prima facie reason to believe it myself, and the reason is stronger when large numbers of people share the belief. The conclusion is that consistent epistemic self-trust supports common agreement arguments, and in particular, it supports a form of the consensus gentium argument for theism.

Keywords: self-trust; consensus gentium; epistemic circularity; epistemic conscientiousness; epistemic trust

Chapter.  8464 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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