Monday, August 01, 2016

Rational Warrant


March 25, 1922-December 4, 2009

I am re-visiting the rational warrant stuff because I'm going to introduce a God argument soon and this is my decision making paradigm. Warrant is part of any argument but I'm using as a paradigm I mean that I base decision about God not upon absolute proof of God's existence but upon the fact that I can warrant the claim that God is real. That means not that I can prove god existss but that I have sound and valid reason to think god is real.

Skeptics usually argue against a level of absolute proof. Some skeptics may claim that they don't demand absolute proof, but the level of most God arguments and most discussions about those arguments is undertaken with an assumption that the argument has to actually it's objective, that God exists. At least that's taken to be the objective. I understood things like way myself, yet my friends and I in our collegiate and undergraduate settings, our coffee shops and debate squad discussions Always hinted at a notion that there are levels of proof. I used to describe this in terms of "not mathematical level of proof but something more on a practical level." After doctoral work, in which I had not really thought about the issue for a long time, I discovered the intent war between atheists and theists and jumped in with both fists flying. I didn't really understand how how why but for some reason it occurred to me (almost instantly) that that second order of proof was the rational warrant belief. There was an article that I can't even find now, I don't remembered who wrote,it talked about propositions as things in which to place confidence rather than "prove" and the ability to place confidence in  a partially proved hypothesis. The basis justification for doing this is the "rational warrant." This soon became my standard position. I do not argue to prove the existence of God but to demonstrate the rationally warranted nature of belief. 

The levels of the term proof that I've discussed, in my internet sojourn, are "absolute" and 'practical." Rational warrant is any logical argument that warrants a belief, or a sense of placing confidence in a proposition. being "rational" means there are logical reasons to support it, being a "warrant" means it's a reason to believe something. Warrant is permission. so the aspect of an argument that logically demonstrates a reason to believe something is a warrant. Rationally warranted belief is confidence placed in a proposition (the belief) that is well placed as demonstrated by the warrant; the warrant is a sort of "permission" to believe or to place confidence.The practical level of proof I said is based upon the daily needs of life while the absolute sense of proof is jsut that, that which can be demonstrated to be 100% proved. There really almost no things in this life that can be proved that way. One of the big games the atheist play is to confuse the issue of belief by constantly demanding 100% absolute proof then denying that is their standard when pressed with the impossibly of the task. Pracical level of belief is confidence placed in a proposition on the basis of an ad hoc or incomplete basis. We might also it the "Thomas Reid level." That is, life is not going to stop and give us a chance to try out every single theory we can think of before we get back to make a decision about God belief. Life is moving on and we are going to die before we find out why we are here if we are waiting around for absolute proof. So the practical level is one that is ratinoally warrant, in which we can place confidence in a proposition because the proposition is justified logically even though we do not have absolute proof.

Rational warrant is nothing more than what logicians call 'warrant.' it's an established aspect of a logical argument. Attaching the Word rational to it only means that it's arrived at through reason. There's nothing magic about the term that, its not some ontological principle that has to be true no matter what, it's just a good old fashioned warrant for an argument. The only real difference in this and what people usually con true as logical argument is that the Aristotelian version of logic seems to demand necessity. That which is logically is necessitated by logic as the mandatory conclusion. Whereas rationally warranted conclusions are more or less permissive rather than mandatory. That is to say they are justified in so far as logic goes, but they are not necessarily the only logical conclusion. Atheists are always asking me "does this mean atheism could rationally warranted too." Theoretically it does, sure! It's still their burden of proof to show that it is. Atheists are always treating rational warrant as though its some sort of freak idea I made up myself that no logician would ever support. In fact all kinds of major logicians support it and it' easy to see that it's just a standard concept if one just does a modicum research one will see that logicians talk about warrant all the time.

  Stephen Toulimin (March 25, 1922-December 4, 2009) was an influential logician of the 20th century who can be singled out as a major figure in the development of a permissive sort of warrant principle. He was one of the major thinkers of the twentieth century, important developing logic, ethics, moral reasoning. He was most famous for the Toulmin diagram which was a way of diagramming an argument to understand it's logic, similar to a vin diagram only more complex. He was a giant in communication theory, Along with Kennith Burke he was probably the most sighted contemporary figure in days when I majored in the disciplined. That is probably why I tend to turn to him to explaimn warrant:

A warrant links data and other grounds to a claim, legitimizing the claim by showing the grounds to be relevant. The warrant may be explicit or unspoken and implicit. It answers the question 'Why does that data mean your claim is true?'
For example:
A hearing aid helps most people to hear better.The warrant may be simple and it may also be a longer argument, with additional sub-elements including those described below.
Warrants may be based on logos, ethos or pathos, or values that are assumed to be shared with the listener.
In many arguments, warrants are often implicit and hence unstated. This gives space for the other person to question and expose the warrant, perhaps to show it is weak or unfounded.[1] [2]

(1) Claim: Sam is a citizen of the British crown. Data: Sam was born on Barbados. Warrant,. people Barbados is in the British commonwealth, People born in Barbados are citizens of the crown, the warrant is thie knowledge about birth place.

(2) the claim: there is a fire. The data: there is smoke, the warrant: the degrade "where there is smoke there is fire."

I could turn to Alvin Plantinga,. I was delighted to learn  through our private email correspondence that he also argues for warranted belief and not proof. He is not as clear about the nature of Warrant as is Toulmin, Plantinga writes about the overall debate over warrant in philosophy:

In this book and in its companion volumes, Warrant: The Current Debate and Warranted Christian Belief, I examine the nature of epistemic warrant, that quantity enough of which distinguishes knowledge from mere true belief. In Warrant: The Current Debate, the first volume in this series, I considered some of the main contemporary views of warrant. In this book, the second in the series, I present my own account of warrant, arguing that the best way to construe warrant is in terms of proper function. In my view, a belief has warrant for a person if it is produced by her cognitive faculties functioning properly in a congenial epistemic environment according to a design plan successfully aimed at the production of true or verisimilitudinous belief. In the first two chapters of this volume, I fill out, develop, qualify, and defend this view, exploring along the way some of the convoluted contours of the notion of proper function. In the next seven chapters, I consider how the proposed account works in the main areas of our cognitive design plan: memory, introspection, knowledge of other minds, testimony, perception, a priori belief, induction, and probability. Then, in Ch. 10, I consider broader, structural questions of coherentism and foundationalism. My account of warrant meets the conditions for being a naturalistic account; but in Chs. 11 and 12, I claim that naturalism in epistemology flourishes best in the context of supernaturalism in metaphysics. For, as I argue in Ch. 11, there appears to be no successful naturalistic account of the notion of proper function. In Ch. 12, I argue, further, that metaphysical naturalism when combined with contemporary evolutionary accounts of the origin and provenance of human life is an irrational stance; it provides for itself an ultimately undefeated defeater. [3]
The problem is that in using warrant as a decision making paradigm I made it sound as though It's a stage in logic before proof is reached, That;'s not exactly true, At least in terms of Toulmin one would have to provide the link from Data to claim before one had a warrant, Any argument has to have that.I'm saying we can stop there as long as the claim is warranted, so we can say there is a God is a warranted claim and that;s all it need be, It doesn't nothing to be proved.One is justified logically in accepting the claim that there is a God if  there is this reason connecting the data to the claim, That reason is a warrant.

So my arguments are about connecting data or some form of logical reason for belief to the claim of God and showing that the claim is justified, there is reasom to believable. That's all we need to prove. Why? Because God is beyond our understanding.
If we exceed to Atheist demands of empirical proof for everything we will never believe anything, Life will not wait for us to spend 50 years deciding if God is there or not, Belief in God is highly beneficial that is proved over and over again,why wait? if we have a rational reason for belief why is that not enough to justify belief?


[1] "Toulmin's argumemt Model" Chaining Minds on line resource, website, URL:  (accessed 8/1/'16)
for documentatiom they cite thevfollowing:

[2] Toulmin, S. (1969). The Uses of Argument, Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press

[3] Alvin Plantinga, "Abstract: Warrant and Proper Function," Oxford Scholarship online, Nov 2003, On line Journal URL: (accessed 8/1/16)


Ryan M said...

I wouldn't say "warrant" has anything to do with what logicians study. An epistemologist might study warrant, and a logician might study epistemic logic, but making an epistemic logic to model what epistemologists study is not the same thing as studying what epistemologists study. Having said that, Stephen Toulmin wasn't exactly a logician. He studied informal logic and rhetoric, but there's a clear difference between the logic he studied and the logic of Alfred Tarski or Saul Kripke.

That quote from Plantinga had absolutely nothing to do with the debate about warrant in philosophy. The book covers a lot of the overall debate (From 1992), but that quote mentions none of it.

I think you're incorrect in asserting that atheists ask for "proofs" in a mathematical sense. While atheists often ask for "Proof", the average person does not mean "Sound deductive argument" when they speak of "Proof". Atheists in general are no different. Outside of philosophically trained atheists, an atheist asking for a proof of theism (Or some theistic claim) almost certainly simply wants an argument to show the claim is epistemically justified.

Atheists might respond to your last line in a few ways. One way would be to argue that a person S having a rational belief that P is true does not necessarily make it rational for some S* to believe that P is true. Plenty of atheist philosophers take a route similar to this.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Logicians dom't really do argument. That's wait rhetoricians do ,The place of an appeal in an argument that's rhetoric.

I know Toulmin is not important to Kripke readers. Plantinga writes abouit warrant, he speaks of the debate about warrant.

Human knowledge is screwed like everything else.

I've been doimng this for almost 20 yers, I know how atheisrts argue Most of them claim they dom
t want absolute proof but when you meet the burden they impose they impose another one,meet and they impose anther one it keeps going such that clearly they want absolute proof,

Mike Gerow said...

Or, in a more "continental" sense, "life won't wait 50 years for us to try to figure out if "God" could mean anything or it5 couldn't....."

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...


Ryan M said...

I have doubts that many atheists want "Absolute proof" of theism. If most atheists really love empiricism then looking for absolute proof probably is not something they are use to asking for.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

true rationally but in practice (that is in argument_ they never reach a point where they say I understand why you see it that way well that;s ok.