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Durham e-Theses
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A critical analysis of the religious epistemology Ian T. Ramsey

Astley, Jeffrey (1978) A critical analysis of the religious epistemology Ian T. Ramsey. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The thesis offers an exposition of the religious epistemology of Ian Ramsey (1915-1972) and its development, together with a critical assessment of Ramsey's work indicating its strengths and weaknesses as a contribution to the contemporary debate concerning the problem of religious knowledge. The first chapter includes a study of unpublished material from Ramsey’s early "Cambridge period", which reveals his espousal of a "form of Idealism" and the influence of Bradley, Ward and Whitehead. The second, and longest, chapter of the thesis traces Ramsey’s development from this position to a "disclosure-based" epistemology and analyses this later philosophy in detail. It includes some reflections on intuitionism in epistemology in general, and religious epistemology in particular. Ramsey's concepts of the discernment and disclosure are related to these reflections. A classification of disclosures is attempted and some of the problems raised by Ramsey's spectrum of examples of disclosure-situations discussed. The objective and subjective elements of the disclosure are studied in detail. The third chapter considers Ramsey's work on religious language; in particular his views on "models" and "qualifiers" and his discussion of the evocative, representative and formal functions of religious discourse. Some attention is also paid to Ramsey's inconclusive suggestions about the nature of metaphysics. Chapter four takes up the issue of the justification of religious belief, comparing Ramsey's views here to his comments on the nature of justification in scientific, personal and metaphysical language. The formal criteria of justification are surveyed, together with Ramsey’s material criterion of "empirical fit". Some final suggestions indicate possible developments of Ramsey's position on justification. Two excursuses relate Ramsey's views to (l) the debate on the role of models in science and religion, and (ll) the Thomistic doctrine of analogical prediction.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1978
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Sep 2013 10:22

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