Religious fictionalism: Strategies and obstacles

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Abstract

Can one engage in the practices and language of a religion, and gain access to the moral, psychological, and social benefits of religious participation, without having religious beliefs? So argue religious fictionalists. This paper focusses on revolutionary religious fictionalism and sets out ways of formulating and defending the position as well as the main challenges. Two difficulties for fictionalism are explored in detail: the problem of taking advantage of the participatory benefits of religion without some kind of deceit, and evidence of assertoric religious discourse where speakers are not committed to having religious beliefs, making revolutionary fictionalism redundant. These problems work in combination: the most promising contexts in which religious fictionalism can be advanced without raising worries about deceit tend to be those in which participation is already unencumbered by metaphysical commitments. The paper concludes by considering the prospects for fictionalism about a restricted range of religious language and thought, and finds a historical precedent for this approach in the writings of some philosophers and theologians in the apophatic and mystical tradition.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMoral Fictionalism and Religious Fictionalism
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford: Oxford University Press
Chapter8
Number of pages17
Publication statusIn preparation - 2023

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