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The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 4, 1999

Philosophies of Religion, Art, and Creativity

Merold Westphal
Pages 1-8

The Politics of Religious Pluralism

Religious pluralism (as a disputed philosophical theory about the undisputed empirical fact of religious pluralism) has evoked lively debate. I make three observations. First, there is a striking similarity between postmodern and earlier modern responses to religious difference insofar as each represents an a priori refusal to let religious believers disagree with each other cognitively. Second, the rejection of theo-logical exclusivism by religious pluralism presumes that its account of religious difference is true, while that of theo-logical exclusivism is false. Third, religious pluralism (pace Hick) does not follow from the premises of Kantian anti-realism. I suggest that religious pluralism is motivated by the terrible history and contemporary specter of religiously sanctioned violence. I argue that we should look directly at the content of religious belief in order to break the link between religious truth claims and religiously sanctioned violence and domination.

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