Professor of Philosophy Dr. David Reiter delivered the presidential address March 24 at a joint meeting of the South Carolina Society for Philosophy and the North Carolina Philosophical Society at Winthrop University in Rock Hill. He examined the question “Does theism enjoy an epistemic advantage?” and offered “Reflections on recent (and not so recent) work.”
Reiter, president of the South Carolina Society for Philosophy, explained that in his talk he was attempting to update and answer objections to an argument made by American philosopher Richard Taylor (1919-2003) concerning “what we must believe about the reliability of our own minds.”
“Taylor imagines that you are riding on the train and you look out the window to see a bunch of rocks arranged to say ‘British Railways Welcomes You to Wales,’” Reiter said. “He points out that if we trust what the rocks are telling us, we cannot consistently believe that the rocks fell into that arrangement by chance. He thinks the same point applies to our minds. If we trust what our minds are telling us about reality, we cannot believe that our minds are simply products of chance.”
Reiter notes that Taylor, “who actually seems to have been antagonistic toward religion,” claims that we are “rationally required to believe that our minds have been designed by a creative being.”
Dr. Nathan Sasser, philosophy instructor at Greenville Technical College, said Reiter’s presidential address “made a provocative case for the epistemic advantages of theism over naturalism,” adding, “Even those who disagreed with Reiter’s conclusion could acknowledge the logical rigor and precision of his argument.”
Reiter has taught at Erskine College since 2007.