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Religious Pluralism, Language and Faith

Religious disagreement is often thought to pose a particular epistemic challenge for theists and atheists alike–namely, does the mere fact that there is pervasive disagreement among peers about religious matters provide evidence that undermines justification for holding the beliefs?  Some say it does, others say it doesn’t, and still others deny that peer disagreement is possible on religious matters.   (These puzzles can further generalize to other philosophical, political and aesthetic disagreements.)  The EPG’s 2019 PREP pilot grant brings together scholars working in epistemology and theories of rationality to explore the consequences of disagreement and belief polarization more generally, with important consequences for these debates in philosophy of religion.

In recent work, I argue that related forms of disagreement also pose a unique semantic challenge, because certain kinds of disagreement can undermine the potential for terms in a shared language to refer.  I’m interested in more general issues at the intersection of philosophy of language and philosophy of religion–including the role that pragmatic rules play in interpreting religious claims, the nature of religious offense, and the best accounts of divine predication.   And I’ve worked on more general challenges to religious belief, especially the problem(s) of evil and the relationship between doubt, reason and religious faith.

Relevant Papers and Books:

  1. Semantics for Blasphemy (Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 2012)
  2. Peter van Inwagen’s Defense (Blackwell Companion to the Problem of Evil 2013)
  3. The Semantic Problem of Hiddenness (Hidden Divinity and Religious Belief: New Perspectives 2015)
  4. Review of The Practice of Catholic Theology (Griffiths) (Commonweal 2016)
  5. Teaching Evil (Christian Philosophy: Conceptions and Challenges, Oxford University Press 2018)
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