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The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion$
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William J. Wainwright

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195138092

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195138090.001.0001

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Religious Diversity

Religious Diversity

Familiar Problems, Novel Opportunities

The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion

Philip L. Quinn

Oxford University Press

This chapter surveys recent work on philosophical issues raised by religious diversity or pluralism. It focuses on four topics. The first is the epistemological challenge of religious diversity. The rationality of commitment to any particular religious tradition seems to be threatened by the existence of rival traditions. The second is the political problem of religious toleration. Religious conflict throughout the world suggests a need for better arguments against religious intolerance than those currently available. The third is the task of understanding the concept of religion. Religious pluralism fuels debate about whether the concept of religion can be defined in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions or, if it cannot, whether it must be analyzed in terms of family resemblances. And the fourth is the enterprise of making constructive comparisons in religious ethics. Similarities and differences between the virtue theories of diverse religious traditions illuminate strengths and weaknesses in the ethical thought of the religions subjected to comparison. The chapter argues from these examples to the conclusion that religious diversity gives rise to several exciting and important problems that ought to be high on the agenda of philosophy of religion.

Keywords:   concept of religion, epistemological challenge (of religious diversity), family resemblances (between religions), pluralism (religious), rationality, religious diversity, religious ethics, religious toleration, virtue theories

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