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The Possibility of Discussion: Relativism, Truth, and Criticism of Religious Beliefs
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology, Ethics and Philosophy of Religion.
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The dissertation seeks to address the issue of how fruitful discussion of religious beliefs is possible, i.e. how it is criticism of religious beliefs is possible. In the philosophy of religion, discussions of religious beliefs are often understood as starting from putative universal norms and rules for argumentation.

A general problem with this understanding of discussion is the belief that the distinction between true and false is made in the same way in all areas of human life. This belief overlooks how distinctions between true and false are rooted in the diverse ways we deal with the world. This observation seems to have relativist consequences, however: Does this not mean that there are many ‘truths’? Does this not mean that fruitful discussion is excluded?

These supposed consequences are critically discussed in the central part of the dissertation. To begin with it is shown that relativism, in one understanding of it, is not self-contradictory. On the other hand, it is possible to come to see that the relativist thesis is not necessary, by noticing why we are inclined to believe that it is. This is done by firstly showing that being situated in history and society is not an obstacle to, but on the contrary a condition for, knowledge and true beliefs in the role they play in our lives. Secondly, it is shown that it is possible to give an account of the concept of truth, and especially of the objectivity of truth, without invoking the demand for universality.

The question of how fruitful discussion of religious beliefs is possible can now be answered in a new way. This answer opens up for a new understanding of the critical task of philosophy of religion, by stressing the possibility of different forms of criticism, among others moral, political and existential criticism.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Etik och Religionsfilosofi , 2005. , 195 p.
Keyword [en]
Philosophy of religion, discussion, relativism, truth, criticism of religious beliefs, fideism, objectivity, universality, Wittgenstein, Davidson, Heidegger, Swinburne
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Philosophy of Religion
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-5755OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-5755DiVA: diva2:166271
Public defence
2005-05-21, Ihre-salen, Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 2005-04-29 Created: 2005-04-29Bibliographically approved

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