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William P. Alston

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William P. Alston

For other people named William Alston, see William Alston (disambiguation).

William Payne Alston (November 29, 1921, Shreveport, Louisiana – September 13, 2009, Jamesville, New York[1]) was an American philosopher. He made influential contributions to the philosophy of language, epistemology and Christian philosophy. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and taught at Syracuse University, Rutgers University and the University of Michigan.

His views on foundationalism, internalism versus externalism, speech acts, and the epistemic value of mystical experience, among many other topics, have been very influential.[2] Like most American philosophers, Alston is counted among the analytic philosophers.

Together with Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, and Robert Adams, Alston helped to found the journal Faith and Philosophy and the Society of Christian Philosophers. With Plantinga, Wolterstorff, and others, Alston was also responsible for the development of "Reformed epistemology" (a term that Alston, an Episcopalian, never fully endorsed), one of the most important contributions to Christian thought in the twentieth century. Alston was president of the American Philosophical Association in 1979 and was widely recognized as one of the core figures in the late twentieth-century revival of the philosophy of religion. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1990.[3]

Alston died at his home on September 13, 2009.


  • Alston, William P., Beyond "Justification": Dimensions Of Epistemic Evaluation, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2005
  • Alston, William P., Illocutionary Acts and Sentence Meaning, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2000
  • Alston, William P., A Realist Conception of Truth, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1996
  • Alston, William P., Epistemic Justification: Essays in the Theory of Knowledge, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1996
  • Alston, William P., The Reliability of Sense Perception, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1993
  • Alston, William P., Perceiving God: The Epistemology of Religious Experience, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1991
  • Alston, William P., Divine Nature and Human Language: Essays in Philosophical Theology. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989.
  • Alston, William P., Philosophy of Language, Englewood Cliffs, Prentice Hall, 1964

See also


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