In everyday speech we seem to refer to such things as abstract objects, moral properties, or propositional attitudes that have been the target of metaphysical and/or epistemological objections. Many philosophers, while endorsing scepticism about some of these entities, have not wished to charge ordinary speakers with fundamental error, or recommend that the discourse be revised or eliminated. To this end a number of non-revisionary antirealist strategies have been employed, including expressivism, reductionism and hermeneutic fictionalism. But each of these theories faces (...) forceful objections. In particular, we argue, proponents of these strategies face a dilemma: either concedes that their theory is revisionary, or adopt an implausible account of speaker-meaning whereby the content of certain types of utterance is opaque to their speakers. In this paper we introduce a new type of antirealist strategy, which is thoroughly non-revisionary, and leaves speaker-meaning transparent to speakers. We draw on work on pragmatics in the philosophy of language to develop a theory we call ‘pragmatic antirealism’. The pragmatic antirealist holds that while the sentences of the discourses in question have metaphysically contentious truth conditions, ordinary utterances of them are pragmatically modified in context in such a way that speakers do not incur commitment to those truth conditions. After setting out the theory, we show how it might be developed for both mathematical and ethical discourse, before responding to some likely objections. (shrink)
This study reviews some of the principal themes in contemporary work on religious language. Unlike other recent surveys, the most pressing issues about religious language are addressed from the perspective of the philosophy of language; different positions taken on these issues by philosophers of religion and theologians are considered. Topics that are covered include: the subject matter of religious discourse, reductionism and subjectivism, expressivism, the nature of religious metaphor, religious fictionalism and truth in religious discourse. The study also looks at (...) the relationship between questions about religious language and cognate areas of philosophy of religion such as epistemology and metaphysics, and potential future directions of research. (shrink)
Seeing, hearing and touching are phenomenally different, even if we are detecting the same spatial properties with each sense. This presents a prima facie problem for intentionalism, the theory that phenomenal character supervenes on representational content. The paper reviews some attempts to resolve this problem, and then looks in detail at Peter Carruthers' recent proposal that the senses can be individuated by the way in which they represent spatial properties and incorporate time. This proposal is shown to be ineffective in (...) distinguishing auditory from either visual or tactual perception, and substantial classes of visual and tactual perceptions are found that the posited spatial and temporal features fail to individuate. (shrink)
This paper evaluates Brian Zamulinski's argument from considerations of relative likelihood for preferring a ‘religion-as-fiction’ hypothesis to metaphysical realism. The paper finds that the argument fails to consider numerous variant hypotheses, and that the ‘religion-as-fiction’ hypothesis is poorly formulated. It is concluded that an argument from likelihood about the status of religious belief will not, in the way Zamulinski constructs it, give support to a hypothesis unless supplemented by an estimate of its probability. Moreover, once probability is taken into account, (...) the ‘religion-as-fiction’ hypothesis looks very weak. (shrink)
In a survey of Internet resources available to philosophers of religion, the authors critically discuss philosophy sites, e-journals, virtual libraries etc that are relevant to philosophy of religion. They conclude that the Internet is increasingly becoming a helpful and even indispensable source of information.
This paper begins with a revaluation of Carnap's critique of existence questions, and finds that with modification his argument is successful in giving a prima facie cause for doubt that the ontological question addressed by religious realists and non-realists has content. The second part of the paper argues that these doubts can be met with proper attention to the role of truth in the religious realism debate. The paper concludes by arguing for a close relationship between the semantic and the (...) ontological varieties of religious realism. (shrink)
It is clear from both his writings and lectures on religion that Wittgenstein thought that there are many differences in the standards and forms of justification informing religious and scientific discourses. However, the evidence of such differences can be used to support two quite different and conflicting lines of argument. On one apparently realist argument, the differences are taken to show that religious discourse describes different kinds of fact (or offers different kinds of description) to scientific discourse; on the other (...) seemingly antirealist argument, the differences show that religious discourse does not have a descriptive function at all. This paper evaluates these arguments both as contributions to the debate concerning religious realism and as interpretations of Wittgenstein. (shrink)
A number of arguments have been put forward by D. Z. Phillips which purportedly establish that the problems that lie at the heart of the theological realism/nonrealism controversy are confused, and that realism itself is incoherent and may be refuted. These arguments are assessed and several different theories of realism are considered. The questions of the nature of religious belief and whether God is an object are addressed. Phillips' arguments are shown to fail to supply a substantial objection to any (...) interesting variety of theological realism. (shrink)
Kenneth Surin has argued that theoretical theodicies of the kind associated with Swinburne and Hick face two major moral criticisms: first that they tacitly sanction evils; second that they display moral blindness in the face of unconditional evils. The paper upholds Surin's criticisms in the light of recent defences of theodicy. It concludes by considering and criticizing Wetzel's arguments for saying that theodicy is unavoidable for those who believe in God.