International Journal for Philosophy of Religion

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ISSN / EISSN : 0020-7047 / 1572-8684
Total articles ≅ 1,742
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International Journal for Philosophy of Religion pp 1-2; doi:10.1007/s11153-021-09803-0

International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Volume 89, pp 199-200; doi:10.1007/s11153-021-09800-3

International Journal for Philosophy of Religion pp 1-14; doi:10.1007/s11153-021-09799-7

It has often been claimed, e.g. by William James or Aldous Huxley, that mystical experiences across times and cultures exhibit a striking similarity. Even though the words and images we use to describe them are different, underneath the surface we find a common experiential core. Others have rejected this claim and argued that all experiences are intrinsically shaped by the mystics’ pre-existing religious concepts. Against these constructivist objections, I defend the idea of a common core by arguing that even if all experience is interpreted through concepts, there could still be a common core. Those who reject the common core thesis usually argue that no distinction between experience and interpretation can be made since all experience is per se already interpreted. The notion of an uninterpreted experience is self-defeating. Drawing on current research on nonconceptual mental content, I argue (a) that experiences can have nonconceptual content; (b) that interpretation must be understood as conceptualization and (c) that conceptualization presupposes a raw mental content that is not conceptualized. This raw content is not experienced as nonconceptual. Rather, the nonconceptual, uninterpreted common core is an abstraction which shows itself only through reflection. Thus, the existence of a common core is compatible with the fact that all experiences are interpreted.
International Journal for Philosophy of Religion pp 1-17; doi:10.1007/s11153-021-09798-8

A concept of merit is used for spiritual accounting in many religious traditions, seemingly a substantial point of connection between religion and ordinary morality. Teachings of “merit transfer” (as in Buddhism and Roman Catholicism) might make us doubt this connection since they violate the principle that merit must be earned. If we examine the structure of ordinary schemes of desert, however, we find that personal worth is posited for a variety of reasons; the basic requirement in this realm is not earning by individuals but rather a community’s program for cultivating desirable collaboration among its members. There are strong enough parallels between religiously envisioned merit transfer and socially normal conferrals and sharings of worth that we can conclude that the religious posits of transferred merit are indeed comprehensible as merit, whatever other problems of comprehensibility they pose.
International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Volume 89, pp 105-106; doi:10.1007/s11153-021-09797-9

International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Volume 89, pp 189-198; doi:10.1007/s11153-021-09796-w

In this critical notice of Clifford Williams’ Religion and the meaning of life, I focus on his argumentation in favour of the moderate supernaturalist position that, while a meaningful life would be possible in a purely physical world, a much greater meaning would be possible only in a world with God and an eternal afterlife spent close to God. I begin by expounding and evaluating Williams’ views of the physical sources of meaning, providing reason to doubt both that he has captured all the central ones and that he has provided the right explanation of why we ought to care about them. Then I address Williams’ account of why God would greatly enhance the meaning of our lives, arguing that, if God could do so, then God could by the same token reduce their meaning as well, such that it is unclear that a world with God would offer a net gain in meaning. Finally, I take up Williams’ position that an eternal afterlife with God would greatly enhance the meaning of our lives, contending that, if it would do so, then it would to such an enormous degree as to make it hard to capture the intuition that a meaningful life would be possible in a purely physical world.
International Journal for Philosophy of Religion pp 1-33; doi:10.1007/s11153-021-09795-x

A number of Christian theologians and philosophers have been critical of overly moralizing approaches to the doctrine of sin, but nearly all Christian thinkers maintain that moral fault is necessary or sufficient for sin to obtain. Call this the “Moral Consensus.” I begin by clarifying the relevance of impurities to the biblical cataloguing of sins. I then present four extensional problems for the Moral Consensus on sin, based on the biblical catalogue of sins: (1) moral over-demandingness, (2) agential unfairness, (3) moral repugnance, and (4) moral atrocity. Next, I survey several partial solutions to these problems, suggested by the recent philosophical literature. Then I evaluate two largely unexplored solutions: (a) genuine sin dilemmas and (b) defeasible sinfulness. I argue that (a) creates more problems than it solves and that, while (b) is well-motivated and solves or eases each of the above problems, (b) leaves many biblical ordinances about sin morally misleading, creating (5) a pedagogical problem of evil. I conclude by arguing that (5) places hefty explanatory burdens on those who would appeal to (b) to resolve the four extensional problems discussed in this paper. So Christian thinkers may need to consider a more radical separation of sin and moral fault.
International Journal for Philosophy of Religion pp 1-16; doi:10.1007/s11153-021-09794-y

Unamuno believes that longing for immortality is what motivates nearly all of human behavior. Unfortunately, in a world in which many people despair of ever achieving true personal immortality, we increasingly turn to what he calls mere “shadows of immortality” for comforting ideas about how our names, energy, or basic material substance will carry on in our absence. Unamuno advocates fighting against such despair, staying out of the shadows, and longing for personal immortality even when it seems impossible. Unamuno’s approach to this issue resembles, in a few significant ways, Kierkegaard’s struggle for the cultivation of subjective selfhood. At the same time, it also runs afoul of Nietzsche’s derisive claims about immortality-seekers. Whereas Nietzsche sees longing for immortality as a sign of being too weak to make the most of mortal life, the more Kierkegaardian Unamuno counters that it is a sign of strong appreciation for life to demand, without surrender, that there be more of it. Given the proper understanding of Nietzsche’s claims about the eternal recurrence, I think he and Unamuno might not be quite as far apart as it initially seems. However, exploring the latter’s critique of the former suggests an intriguing way of seeing the contemporary analytic debate about the desirability of immortality. Building on Unamuno’s position, one could argue that pessimism about the value of immortality is actually indicative of a flawed character and an impoverished relationship with life.
International Journal for Philosophy of Religion pp 1-11; doi:10.1007/s11153-021-09792-0

It is debated among open theists whether propositions about the contingent future should be regarded as straightforwardly true or false, as all false without exception, or as lacking truth-values. This article discusses some recent work on this topic and proposes a solution different than the one I have previously endorsed.
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