Article

Philosophy of Religion

Jonathan L. Kvanvig

in Philosophy

ISBN: 9780195396577
Published online May 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0103
Philosophy of Religion

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The philosophy of religion became a recognizable subdiscipline in philosophy in the mid- to late 20th century, together with other notable subdisciplines such as the philosophy of science and the philosophy of language. Work in the philosophy of religion has always been present in the history of philosophy, but prior to the 20th century, it tended to be embedded in larger philosophical projects. By the mid-20th century, however, the process of specialization in philosophy led to an identifiable subfield with identifiable specialists in the area. This subfield can be roughly characterized in terms of its epistemological and metaphysical aspects. On the epistemological side are the various attempts to demonstrate or prove God’s existence (e.g., the classic ontological, cosmological, and teleological arguments) or nonexistence (e.g., the problem of evil) and the discussions of what is required for an adequate demonstration or proof, and there are further discussions of whether a proof or demonstration is needed in order for belief in God to be rational or justified. Included in the latter area is the large question of the degree to which one’s intellectual life ought to be guided by purely truth-related concerns or whether pragmatic concerns are legitimate factors in determining not only how to act but also what to think. On the metaphysical side are controversies about a proper conception of the nature of God, both about specific characteristics of God such as omnipotence, omniscience, simplicity, eternity, and moral perfection, and also about what general approach to the issue of the nature of God is appropriate (e.g., whether a process conception is preferable to a perfect being conception). There is also the question of God’s relationship to the world, both in terms of creation and providential control, and the related issue of whether miracles are possible and whether it is ever reasonable to believe that one has occurred. Finally, there is the further question of the significance of religious language itself, whether sense can be made of talking about a being and realms of reality that are difficult to account for in terms of empirical acquaintance and, if so, exactly what precise account can be given of the content of such language.

Article.  11174 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; Epistemology ; Feminist Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Metaphysics ; Moral Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Law ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Religion ; Philosophy of Science ; Social and Political Philosophy

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