Is monotheism compatible with pluralism? Reflections on Richard Rorty's critique of religion

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This paper examines Rorty's view of the relation between religion and philosophical pluralism. The first section deals with monotheism in the context of Rorty's pluralist approach to truth. The discussion here deals mainly with the reflexive stance towards belief that pluralism requires of the believer. The second section considers the way Rorty sketches the moral hopes embodied in pluralism, the basic kind of social relations that would typify a pluralist culture, and the capacity of monotheism to orient or sustain those relations. The general conclusion to be drawn from these considerations is that monotheism - at least in the sense Rorty gives to that term - is structurally at odds with pluralism in the ways Rorty suggests. In the third section, however, it is argued that Rorty's case is vitiated by its reliance on utilitarianism. Rorty invokes utilitarianism to show how religion can be made compatible with pluralism, but - as critics of utilitarianism have long argued - utilitarianism is badly suited to this purpose because it is insensitive to the specific normative content of religion.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrontiers of diversity
Subtitle of host publicationexplorations in contemporary pluralism
EditorsAvery Plaw
Place of PublicationAmsterdam, New York
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9789042017665
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Publication series

NameAt the interface / probing the boundaries


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