Andrew Fulford Archive Authors Philosophy

How Should We Study Religion?

Theodorus seems to be a pretty good guesser about your nature. For this feeling of wonder shows that you are a philosopher, since wonder is the only beginning of philosophy… .[1]

It may be an understatement to say that these days, the study of religion has a cause for serious self-reflection. The point at issue is method. This essay will suggest a way forward through a kind of metanoia, a turning back to where some of today’s problems might have started, and proceeding a different way than before. To be explicit, this essay will argue for an Aristotelian method for religious studies.[2] In order to show the relevance of this to recent methodological discussions, the first part of the essay will summarize some arguments from notable figures in the discipline that in various ways contradict the position of this essay. The second part will provide a positive philosophical case for the method starting from metaphysics, moving to epistemology, through ethics, to some specific conclusions on religious studies.

Before engaging the argument proper, however, some boundaries need to be established. Firstly, this essay will take for granted a point that Daniel L. Pals makes regarding the subject matter, “religion”:

Among current theorists these terms have been replaced by language about behavioral patterns, linguistic structures, and symbolic systems. Nonetheless, it is an evident fact, if not always sufficiently attended to, that these difference voices routinely manage to talk with each other, rather than past each other, about religion. The reason would seem to be that in actuality they choose to share a common preliminary grasp of what are the data appropriate to their inquiries. To borrow a German term useful in other contexts, they share a Vorverständnis: a pre-understanding of what constitutes religion. While a complete account of this pre-understanding defies the attempting, we can perhaps isolate a key component of it by appealing to E. B. Tylor’s classic minimal definition: religion is ‘belief in Spiritual Beings’ (1: 424). … ). And clearly, most of what draws the attention of learned inquiry [in this field] consists of behavior, objects, and institutions associated with such beliefs. [3]

In other words, the method this essay will develop aims at the study of those kinds of objects.

Secondly, the approach aims at understanding. As Socrates says to Glaucon, the beginning of philosophy is wonder, a desire to understand the answer to “why?” Whatever else religious studies might be doing, the kind of enterprise this essay concerns itself with is one that seeks to provide answers to that question, that seeks to provide causal explanations for religious phenomena.

The Road Taken

Mark C. Taylor walks his readers through the history of philosophy beginning with Kant, and his narrative provides a good gateway for the present discussion. Taylor explains that:

Kant concludes the mind is, in effect, hardwired: consciousness and self-consciousness presuppose forms of intuition (space and time) and twelve categories of understanding. Since these structures of cognition are not supposed to originate in experience, Kant regards them as universal.[4]

He continues the story with Hegel, who “was quick to realize, the mind, like everything else, has a history. The particular categories through we structure experience and organize knowledge are historically specific and culturally relative.”[5] Ultimately, Taylor tells us, the failure of Hegel’s speculative philosophy led to a situation where multiple structures of knowledge seem possible.[6] The assumption that observers impose the categories of experience onto it remains in place.

This same assumption appears in other writers, like Sheila Greeve Davaney, who (apparently) takes the wisdom for granted of “An age that repudiates essentialism on so many levels,” and wants to defend a kind of theology that fits with that zeitgeist.[7] This anti-essentialist theology is partly defined by its similarity to cultural theory, which shows how allegedly absolute principles of knowledge are really shaped by worldly, historical realities.[8]

Finally, Carl A. Raschke makes explicit his agreement with Kant’s epistemological turn:

The ‘mimetic’ is not at any level a reduplication of the ‘real’. Instead it [is] a ‘redrawing’, which in fact brings about a disfigurement at the site of depiction. It is an act of ‘reference’ that in fact overcomes the referent. The ‘presentation’ of the real invariably establishes a synecdochal style of sign-connectivity between the representation of the real, and the real that is represented. And it is that sort of archaeo-semiosis which constitutes the ‘representational’ nature of all language and cognition, a fact that Kant with his interpretation of ‘phenomenon’ as Vorstellung (i.e., ‘re-presentation’) understood quite well.[9]

What all these thinkers hold in common, then, is an assumption that knowledge does not function by discovering the essences of things as they are in themselves, but rather, like Kant taught, that the mind imposes categories on things it observes.[10]

If those three thinkers speak with the voice of Kant, Wayne Proudfoot makes an argument that conjures another spirit, that of Descartes. When writing about the ways in which mystical experience relates to authority, he says:

Ordinary perceptual experiences also assume beliefs. They presuppose beliefs about the causes of experiences. One would not identify an experience as a perception in the face of evidence that the appropriate causal relation between the object perceived and the experience itself was lacking. As in the case of mysticism, the identification of a perception assumes certain beliefs about how that experience is to be explained. The experience has no authority for one who does not share those beliefs. The authority of the experience is based not on direct acquaintance but on what is regarded as the best explanation of the experience. The experiences of mystics do offer hypotheses, but they do not establish a presumption. They are testimonies not to some direct perception but to the beliefs that enter into the identification of the experience.[11]

It is important to note how Proudfoot reasons here. To say it in an epistemological tongue, he regards as epistemically equivalent the presence of defeaters for an hypothesis, and the absence of the awareness of an argument for the best explanation of an hypothesis. Both states imply a mere experience provides no presumption for the reality of the experienced object. That other evidence might defeat a belief about an experience implies that such experience alone does not establish a presumption about reality. This is similar in intention to Descartes’ skeptical ethos: if it is conceivable that an experience could be non-veridical, then the experience does not provide evidence for reality.

Kant, Descartes, and one other ghost can be detected in our disciplinary séance: the collective mind of the Empiricists. In his defense of reductionism, Robert A. Segal gestures vigorously towards Lessing’s Ditch when he writes:

Finally, the essence of religion constitutes metaphysical knowledge, and it is far from evident that any empirical method, which the phenomenology of religion purports to be, can provide it. A phenomenologist can certainly try to prove empirically that an irreducibly religious interpretation of religion either is more nearly adequate than any other one or captures a dimension of religion missed by all other ones, but when he maintains that his interpretation uncovers the essence of religion he exceeds the bounds of empirical evidence. He exceeds not simply the meaning of religion for believers but also its provable meaning in fact.[12]

And Robert Sharf relies on Daniel Dennet in his argument against qualia, and for an eliminativism in philosophy of mind:

Dennet thinks the whole notion of qualia is wrongheaded and employs a series of ‘intuition pumps,’ such as his musings on the flavor of beer, in order to undermine our confidence in the existence of intrinsic properties of experience. “If it is admitted that one’s attitudes towards, or reactions to, experiences are in any way and in any degree constitutive of their experiential qualities, so that a change in reactivity amounts to or guarantees a change in the property, then those properties, those ‘qualitative of phenomenal features,’ cease to be properties” (Dennett 1992, 61).[13]

Segal alludes to an argument against the possibility of gaining metaphysical knowledge from experience, and Sharf briefly cites one that entails the entire idea of a mind gaining knowledge of abstract, immaterial essences is impossible.

If the spirits of modernity have brought us to the present crisis (if it is that), it might be at least worth asking: could we have taken another path, following another voice, and thereby avoided this problem? The rest of the essay will provide a modest proposal that (something like) Aristotle’s realist, externalist, and ethical naturalist philosophy leads us to answer in the affirmative.

The Macedonian Road:

Real Essentialism

David S. Oderberg begins his extended defense of what he terms “real essentialism” by explaining the core of traditional metaphysics. It is:

the thesis that everything has a real essence – an objective metaphysical principle determining its definition and classification. Such principles are not mere creatures of language or convention; rather, they belong to the very constitution of reality.[14]

Further, real essentialism claims that essences can be defined:

Putting the point again in Aristotelian terminology…, to give the definition of something is to say what it is, to give the ti esti or to ti en einai of the object. Put simply, the real essentialist position is that it is possible to say correctly what things are.[15]

Oderberg gives several arguments for the reality of essences, but two will suffice here. Firstly, there is an apparent unity across entities in reality. Multiple objects seem to have similarities. There are two explanations for this unity. One is conventionalism, which says human practice imposes this unity on reality. However, this is impossible, as conventionalism is a truth-claim about how all human minds relate to reality, and thus this putatively conventional unity would have to exist logically prior to the source of human conventions. Obviously this is impossible.[16]

Secondly, there is apparent unity within discrete entities. That is, objects “display a unified, characteristic repertoire of behaviour, operations, and functions indicative of a single, integral entity… .”[17] Even if one were to assert the only unity was in reality as a whole, “still the question would arise as to what gave the amorphous lump its unity; by virtue of what would it be one rather than many?”[18] That there is unity in reality is evident, and requires explanation; the explanation is found in the essence, the ‘what’ that a real thing is.[19]

Reflection upon experience requires us to make a further distinction, between essences and properties. Edward Feser explains, in a manner similar to the last argument from Oderberg, that

The essence of a thing must be distinct from its properties, for several reasons. One reason is that treating an essence as a set of properties is as problematic as treating a substance as a cluster of accidents. … If an essence is a set of properties, then what is it that makes it the case that all and only the properties that make up a certain kind of thing’s essence occur together in that kind of thing?[20]

So properties are distinct from essences, though both are real. How do they relate? The traditional answer is that the former “flow” from the latter. Feser draws the analogy between geometric shapes and material substances: just as the form of a triangle necessarily has certain properties (such as angles adding to 180°), so material objects have a form that provides both the formal cause and the origin of their properties (perhaps, e.g., through genetic processes in the case of living things).[21]

This metaphysic entails a kind of epistemology. Feser elaborates that we know the essences of objects through properties, which in the case of material objects requires empirical observation. The process of observation and reflection proceeds in the following way, and it is worth quoting at length as this forms the core of the method proposed in the present essay:

There are general principles that can guide us. For example, in the case of a living thing, if a certain accident is very widespread in living things of the kind in question and is absent only in cases where the thing is damaged and/or where the absence is associated with what on independent grounds we can judge to be dysfunction, then we have good reason to judge that the accident in question is a proper accident or property and thus flows from the thing’s essence. Thus we are not reduced to the circular reasoning of saying that such-and-such really are properties because normal members of the kind have them, and those members of the kind are the normal ones because they have such-and-such properties. … Still, … judgments about essence are fallible and may require much empirical investigation for their justification.[22]

Insofar as we can discover the essences of things by means of observing their properties and behaviours, we can come to know what kind of effects certain objects naturally produce. This in turn allows us to form historical inferences about what types of causes certain effects require as their most probable explanation. Yet, insofar as our knowledge of essences is fallible, this is not a method that can claim absolute certainty for itself. And indeed, insofar as various kinds of factors can interrupt or confuse observation and reasoning (for example, cultural influences that blind observers to certain properties, or personal animus that suppresses or distorts evidence or natural inferences), there is certainly always a possibility of error in any particular judgment. Yet, while fallible, the method can in principle provide real knowledge.

The ground traversed so far enables us to respond to ward off the ghosts the essay opened with. For insofar as Kantianism is analogous to a kind of conventionalism (saying that the categories of reality we perceive are merely imposed by the human mind, though he does not think the categories are social constructions), and later Hegelian and post-structuralist theories maintain this approach, the above argument against conventionalism suffices to answer it. Insofar as any of these theories make claims about what real things like “minds” or “historical processes” do to our acts of knowing, they are claiming to know things about real objects with real characteristics. That is, they are surreptitiously appealing to knowledge of real essences. In addition, what we have seen so far provides a bridge over Lessing’s Ditch: the method explains exactly how observation can lead to knowledge of essences, which is the same thing as metaphysical knowledge. Thus Segal’s objection is satisfied.


Yet, does not the fallibility of this process demand we take a skeptical approach to whatever conclusions it might claim to discover? This question returns us to the Cartestian doubt that Proudfoot raised, and requires a response. Michael Bergmann provides this reply. In sum, he contends that nonexternalists are stuck on the horns of a dilemma: either they must demand a strong awareness of the grounds of justification, implying a demand for infinite knowledge on the part of the knower, or else they must in the end resort to the kinds of replies an externalist would give to the skeptical challenge.[23]

To reinforce the first horn, Bergmann gives the following argument. Even if one must only be able on reflection to be aware of the justification for belief X, this generates a regress problem: for one must be able on reflection to be aware of the justification for the justification for belief X, and for the justification of the justification of the justification for belief X, ad infinitum; but eventually any human being will reach a point in which the required proposition will be beyond their capacity to understand; so this requirement entails knowledge is impossible. In response to the internalist who might opt to swallow this conclusion, Bergmann notes the argument itself entails she could not have any confidence in her belief that strong awareness is required.[24] One further point deserves note here. Insofar as human subjects perceive what they think is reality, we (by definition) seem to know things. And insofar as imposing strong awareness requirements results in destroying any rational motivation for such an imposition, it seems more reasonable to continue on with what seems to be true prima facie: we human beings do in fact know things.

Bergmann solidifies the second horn of his dilemma by arguing in several steps. First, he asks us to reflect on the fact that a demon conceivably could make someone experience a truth as infallibly certain even when it was not. He then draws the conclusion that, if such skeptical scenarios provide a defeater for knowledge, knowledge is absolutely impossible.[25]

Second, he argues that denying noninferential justification entails total skepticism as well:

  1. A belief can be justified only if it is inferentially justified.
  2. A belief can be inferentially justified only if the belief from which it is inferred is a justified belief.
  3. Therefore, a belief is justified only if it is justified via circular reasoning or it is justified via an infinite chain of reasoning. [from 1 and 2]
  4. No beliefs can be justified via circular reasoning.
  5. None of our beliefs are justified via infinite chains of reasoning.
  6. Therefore, none of our beliefs are justified. [from 3, 4 and 5].[26]

Bergmann notes that there is widespread agreement that it makes more sense to deny (1) than to accept (6), and so that there can be noninferential justification.[27] Once again, the prima facie experience of human beings alone would seem to incline us to accept (1) over (6).

The consequence of these points for the skeptical question is as Bergmann says:

For if there is noninferential justification, then the sensible thing to say—when someone asks for a reason to think that some allegedly noninferential justification is supposed to supervene—is that you don’t need to give such a reason in order for the belief to be justified… .[28]

In other words: the noninferential experiential ground of the belief is sufficient to justify the belief even in the absence of further awareness of the justification for it.

Yet, this seems to entail that a kind of dogmatism might be permissible in philosophical exchange. If one interlocutor can claim something is infallibly evident to them, they would have an undefeatable position. Bergmann addresses this concern head on, and gets to what seems to be the motive behind the worry:

One misunderstanding is the thought that radical disagreement (about such things as fanatical religious views) can be resolved if we follow the rules for permissible moves in a proper philosophical exchange. This thought is a pipe dream, a philosopher’s false hope. The disagreement between clever religious fanatics and those skeptical of their claims, like the disagreement between High Standard moderate nonexternalists and those skeptical of their claims, can ‘bottom out’ in the sort of exchange we’ve been imagining.[29]

At the same time, he does not concede this means everyone must accept that the fanatic (or the total skeptic) is reasonable in his views. He writes:

But in response to the religious fanatic, we can say: ‘the difference between our claim that you’re hallucinating and your claim that we’re blind is that our claim satisfies the conditions necessary and sufficient for justification and yours does not’. … The fact that those with whom we disagree (e.g. the religious fanatic or the skeptic about introspection) can respond with philosophical moves similar in form to our own might keep us from complaining that they aren’t following the proper rules for philosophical exchange. It may even prevent us from resolving our dispute with the methods of philosophy. However, it doesn’t commit us to thinking that their views are sensible or respectable.[30]

Of course, there is one important qualification to this externalist account of knowledge, a condition that it imposes upon our claim to be warranted in belief. That is, knowing subjects must not believe there are defeaters for their beliefs. Bergmann argues for this point as intuitive: if a person thinks there is reason not to believe something to be true, then they are not warranted in believing it is true.[31] This point brings us back to the point about the fallibility of this method mentioned above. While this realist/externalist approach to gaining knowledge can reliably get us to reality, reliability is not the same thing as infallibility, and this must always be acknowledged.[32]

We have now taken this path far enough to see where Proudfoot went wrong. In regarding the possibility of a defeater as a reason that experience cannot provide evidence for a truth, his view will necessitate following the skeptical logic all the way to its conclusion. One could put this a different way: Proudfoot thinks experience can only be authoritative if we are aware of an argument to the best explanation in support of such a conclusion. But could not our awareness of the apparent soundness of such an argument also be mistaken? Is not this “awareness of a sound argument” just another type of subjective experience? The answer is obviously: “yes.”

Knowledge of Matter and Mind

Based on this realist/externalist approach, we can gain knowledge of reality. Since no one in the current religious studies debate really disputes we can know material reality, this essay will not bother to argue for the claim. However, there is some dispute, as Sharf represents above, about whether the mind can be known. Yet, Sharf (following Dennet) does not seem to have a very strong argument. Firstly, that our experience of an object can change, as in our experience of the taste of beer changing from displeasing to pleasing, does not entail the experiences are unreal. Rather, it need only mean that realities, such as our preferences or habits, can affect our experiences. So, over time our attention may be drawn away from the superficially displeasing aspects of beer to the more pleasant ones, to the point where we habitually ignore the former and derive great pleasure from focus on the latter. This is at least as plausible an interpretation as Dennet’s. And it has the benefit of acknowledging what seems to be obvious: we do in fact have subjective experiences of objects. So, we human beings seem to have knowledge both of material and immaterial realities, of both matter and mind.

Knowledge of the Good

Moving on from metaphysics and epistemology, we now come to the question of ethics, which forms the foundation for questions of method, since they are ultimately about how we ought to study certain subjects. Here, again, we will follow Aristotle’s lead. Oderberg explains that he defines “the good” as that which every thing aims at.[33] He continues by making the observation that there are real objects for which we can sensibly say that things go well or badly for them. Plants can be diseased or healthy. In addition, animals possess the capacity for pleasure, knowledge, and sociality, and can fulfill these capacities or not. Finally, humans have all these features plus the reason and the will, entailing the capacity to deliberate about what ends would be good for them and by what means to act towards them.[34] Yet (as we have already noted before), Oderberg reminds us that the intellect can be mistaken in such processes,[35] and that morality as a discipline is then concerned with the study of what is good for human beings.[36]

He further explains that for all human beings, activity terminates upon the perceived ultimate good:

Everything a person does is for some objective proposed as worthwhile… . If you pick any … example, you will see the same phenomenon: every act terminates in something done simply because it is good and for no further end. But this ultimate good, as we can call it, is simply the good that corresponds to the ultimate human activity of which every other activity is but an ingredient: the living of the human life in all its fullness, that is, taking into account all the tendencies, capabilities and characteristics (such as rationality and freedom) of the human being.[37]

This ultimate good has many aspects, corresponding to the many sides of human life, and the many kinds of desires we have.[38] Among the aspects he mentions, two are most important for present purposes. Firstly, insofar as we have an intellect, we tend toward the pursuit of truth;[39] this truth is inclusive of understanding answers to the questions of how and why.[40] Secondly, as human beings are social animals, we tend to form and maintain groups.[41] Our full flourishing, then, involves the pursuit of truth in cooperation with others.

Knowledge of Good Scholarly Practices

Scholarship is one way in which human beings fulfill this general human desire. Insofar as it flows from this more general aims, its goals must be in accord with the parameters that human goodness provide. With some reflection, we can see what these guidelines might be.

Firstly, the pursuit of truth, rooted in wonder, naturally would seek as much evidence as is possible to gain for an individual and a group, without the sacrifice of other goods (like might happen if a scholar neglects his family life, etc.). Purposefully refusing to seek for evidence, or ignoring it when it had been found, would obstruct the natural human desire to find the truth, and so would be a bad way to do the human activity of scholarship.

Secondly, the need for social cooperation would direct scholars to both be honest with each other about what evidence they had found, and to preserve cooperation as much as is possible, as it is better for people when they work together on a common project. It is, at least, more likely to be able to accomplish more. Certainly, deception or abuse of other people, even in a scholarly context, would be contrary to the social nature of human beings.

Knowledge of Good Scholarly Practices for Religious Studies in Particular

We can narrow our methodological rules even more. Insofar as we are looking for the causes of religious phenomena, it seems like there is no reason to a priori rule out any potential explanations. And there are positive arguments that at least make it reasonable to suggest there are more than material realities. For example, the argument Oderberg provided for real essences from unity across entities entails these distinct material objects all have some one thing in common, a unity. Yet, this unity cannot be material; the objects are precisely not materially united. What they have in common, instead, is an immaterial form instantiated in matter.

Further, Feser explains why our knowledge of such forms entails the intellect is also immaterial. He argues that when we intellectually know the essence of a thing, the essence we know must be the same as the essence of the thing, or else we would not be knowing it. But, he continues, if our intellect was a material thing, then for the essence to be in our mind would be for it to be instantiated in matter, which would just mean that an actual instantiation of the material object we know would be in our mind (or perhaps brain), which is absurd. If this were true, for example, he says when we know the concept of a dog, an actual dog would be in our mind or brain. The absurdity shows why we cannot regard the intellect as material.[42]

Yet, even if we grant that these arguments make the reality of immaterial objects plausible, this need not require us in advance to select any particular explanation for any given phenomena we are trying to explain. Rather, we must follow the method explained above: look at the phenomena, and ask what kind of realities could explain them, given what we know about such realities.

Combining these comments with our general rules about scholarship, we can conclude that students ought to seek the best explanation they can given all the evidence they can find, and do all this in cooperation with others as honestly as they can, acknowledging the possibility of error along the entire process.

Before concluding this essay, one more worry should be allayed. That is, returning to Bergmann’s allusion to the “philosopher’s false hope” above, a well-meaning critic might ask: how could two scholars following this method avoid a deadlock, wherein one stubbornly persists in asserting his direct evidence, and another in refusing it through her skepticism, or else wherein two scholars appeal to their contradictory alleged direct experiences?

Besides following the method outlined above, John Perry suggests one more virtue that could provide a useful guideline: the virtue of eloquence, expressed in rhetoric.[43] Perry appeals to Bryan Garsten, who distinguishes the aims of liberal public reason (“justification”), from the aims of rhetoric (“persuasion”). The former asks people to see positions as reasonable, out of a desire to affirm the ideal of equality, but does not seek to persuade; the latter assumed people disagreed, and sought for people to engage in controversy through speech rather than force.[44]

This end entails a fitting means, which Perry describes as decorum:

Like the rules of grammar, but unlike the constraints of public reason, rhetorical ‘rules’ merely make implicit practices explicit, so that the practice of persuasion remains the authority, not the rules themselves. Chief among these is the notion of literary decorum or propriety. … Decorum is concerned with what is apt, primarily defining apt with regard to one’s audience.[45]

In the end, the goal of persuasion, alongside a commitment to truth and sociality, means that any positions can enter the discussion, provided they seek to reason with and be reasoned with, rather than use force to coerce the other, or else simply shout disruptively. Insofar as liberal public reason demands that beyond these rules only “reasonable” positions be allowed at the table, it only makes deadlock more likely to happen, rather than less. In the end, persuasion may not always be possible; yet, as long as people remain willing to talk, there seems nothing to lose by continuing, and much consensus in the truth potentially to be gained. And if our goal is ultimately the same as Glaucon’s, our path seems to be open to us, if we are willing to take it.


[1] Plato, Theaetetus, trans. Harold North Fowler, Loeb Classical Library 123 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1921), 55.

[2] I must add one caveat to this claim: my concern is not really to provide a historical argument that I am taking Aristotle’s exact position on every matter in this essay. I do think I am basically doing so, but if I am incorrect in claiming his name, I would sooner give up the name than the positions I will be arguing for. It is ultimately a label of convenience.

[3] Daniel L. Pals, “Is Religion a Sui Generis Phenomenon?” in Journal of the American Academy of Religion 55, no. 2 (1987): 261.

[4] Mark C. Taylor, “Introduction,” in Critical Terms for Religious Studies, ed. Mark C. Taylor (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 17.

[5] Taylor, 17.

[6] Taylor, 17.

[7] Sheila Greeve Davaney, “Rethinking Theology and Religious Studies,” in Religious Studies, Theology, and the University: Conflicting Maps, Changing Terrain, ed. Linell E. Cady and Delwin Brown (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2002), 141.

[8] Davaney, 141.

[9] Carl A. Raschke, “Theorizing Religion at the Turn of the Millennium: From the Sacred to the Semiotic,” in Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory 1, no. 1 (1999): 7-8.

[10] It may be that some of these thinkers, perhaps specifically Davaney, would want to qualify their statements in the direction of a kind of realism. If so, I would withdraw my grouping of them under this approach; however, the argument itself is still common enough to be worthy of response, regardless of whether they are representatives of it in the final analysis.

[11] Wayne Proudfoot, Religious Experience (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), 153-154.

[12] Robert A. Segal, “In Defense of Reductionism,” in Journal of the American Academy of Religion 51, no. 1 (1983): 108-109.

[13] Robert H. Sharf, “Experience.” Critical Terms for Religious Studies. ed. Mark C. Taylor (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 110.

[14] David S. Oderberg, Real Essentialism (New York: Routledge, 2007), x.

[15] Oderberg, Real, 19.

[16] Oderberg, Real, 44.

[17] Oderberg, Real, 45.

[18] Oderberg, Real, 46.

[19] Oderberg, Real, 46-47.

[20] Edward Feser, Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction (Heusenstamm: Editiones Scholasticae, 2014), 231.

[21] Feser, Scholastic, 234.

[22] Feser, Scholastic, 235-235.

[23] Michael Bergmann, Justification without Awareness: A Defense of Epistemic Externalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 224-225.

[24] Bergmann, 14-23

[25] Bergmann, 223.

[26] Bergmann, 228.

[27] Bergmann, 228

[28] Bergmann, 229.

[29] Bergmann, 231.

[30] Bergmann, 232.

[31] Bergmann, 165.

[32] It is also worth noting at this point that Christopher Shields, “The Phainomenological Method in Aristotle’s Metaphysics,” in Aristotle on Method and Metaphysics, ed. Edward Feser (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013), 23, argues Aristotle held to this method.

[33] David S. Oderberg, Moral Theory: A Non-Consequentialist Approach (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2000), 34.

[34] Oderberg, Moral, 35-37.

[35] Oderberg, Moral, 38.

[36] Oderberg, Moral, 340.

[37] Oderberg, Moral, 38.

[38] Oderberg, Moral, 41.

[39] Oderberg, Moral, 41.

[40] Oderberg, Moral, 42.

[41] Oderberg, Moral, 42.

[42] Edward Feser, The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2008), 124.

[43] John Perry, The Pretenses of Loyalty: Locke, Liberal Theology, and American Political Theology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 215.

[44] Perry, 212.

[45] Perry, 213.