Last Friday’s edition of Trouw – a Dutch newspaper – had an article on Rik Peels, a young Dutch philosopher who had just successfully defended his PhD thesis “Believing responsibly” on the epistemological requirements for justifying faith, beliefs, or convictions. While reading the article I lost track of the argument and decided to draw a little concept map, first in pencil and later using the free Cmap Tools. Concept maps did what they usually do: clarifying the argument, encouraging learning by raising additional questions (e.g. what other intellectual virtues are there?), and preserving an overview for future use. What the article said was that ethics do not only apply to our actions, but also to important convictions, such as religious convictions or faith. Openness to objections to our convictions is a necessary condition for critical reflection on the validity of our convictions. Rik Peels believes that Anders Breivik was intellectually dishonest in excluding certain external sources of information or criticism from his reflections on Islam. In contrast, Rik Peels displayed the important intellectual virtue of openness to dialogue by doing his PhD under the guidance of the avowed atheist professor Philipse. On the other hand, he needed the confrontation to build his argument in the footsteps of Alvin Plantinga. The reverse was probably true for Herman Philipse.
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