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The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 4, 1999

Philosophies of Religion, Art, and Creativity

Philip L. Quinn
Pages 19-27

Epistemological Problems of Religious Pluralism

The world religions make conflicting claims about the nature of ultimate reality, and they all appeal to experience for justification of their claims. The experiential justifications for conflicting religious beliefs thus seem to be mutually destructive. One response to this situation, advocated by John Hick, is to reinterpret traditional religious claims in ways that eliminate the conflicts; another, favored by William P. Alston, is to defend the rationality of continuing, despite the conflicts, to engage in the doxastic practice of one’s own religion. I begin this paper with a summary of the criticism of Alston’s defense that I have spelled out in greater detail elsewhere. After arguing that Alston’s conclusions require significant modification, I go on to defend the modified Alstonian conclusions against objections recently raised by Hick. I conclude by suggesting a view that seems to me to combine the best features of Alston’s and Hick’s approaches to religious pluralism.

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