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The Limitations of the Open Mind$
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Jeremy Fantl

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198807957

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198807957.001.0001

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Psychic Phenomena and the Existence of God

Psychic Phenomena and the Existence of God

(p.75) 4 Psychic Phenomena and the Existence of God
The Limitations of the Open Mind

Jeremy Fantl

Oxford University Press

This chapter applies the conclusions of the previous chapters to two cases of controversial belief: atheistic belief and the denial of psychic phenomena (psi). In both cases, in line with so-called “phenomenal conservatism,” the felt obviousness—to the denier—of the non-existence of what they’re denying figures large in their knowledge, if they have it. In both cases, the deniers’ knowledge runs up counterarguments—for example, the fine tuning argument or meta-analyses of a number of controlled studies that purport to demonstrate the existence of psychic phenomena. But these arguments need not destroy knowledge, even if the atheist or psi-denier can’t figure out what’s wrong with those arguments. Knowledge can survive precisely because some atheists and psi-deniers lack sufficient methodological expertise, though it’s crucial that there is no consensus of trustworthy experts offering testimony that the counterarguments are sound.

Keywords:   phenomenal conservatism, atheism, psychic phenomena, psi, fine tuning argument, meta-analyses, expertise, testimony

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