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The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 8, 2006

Philosophy of Religion

Girard Brenneman
Pages 13-18

A Pragmatic Defense of Religious Exclusivism

Religious pluralism (the view that all the great world religions are equally true) is largely motivated by the fear that religious exclusivism ( the view that there is just one correct religion) leads to intolerance and oppression of those holding differing religious views. I claim that this suggests a false dichotomy: either be a tolerant pluralist or an intolerant exclusivist. I argue, first, that the seventeenth-century doctrine of toleration supports the claim that exclusivists of differing sects can peacefully coexist and, second, that religious pluralism has harmful consequences. Exclusivism (tempered by toleration) is the best solution to the challenge of religious diversity.

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