Few parts of the inhabited world are unaffected by religious diversity. This has often been regarded as a philosophically, sociologically, and politically challenging fact, rather than as something to be celebrated. Within the philosophy of religion, in particular, religious diversity has typically been regarded as standing in need of a theoretical explanation that will defuse the challenge it seems to present to prevailing belief systems. This conference invites exploration of philosophical responses to religious diversity, and investigation of the epistemological, metaphysical, and socio-political questions that it raises.
Sub-theme 1: Philosophical Responses to Religious Diversity
In the last several decades it has become common-place to regard inclusivism, exclusivism and pluralism as the main forms of response to religious diversity. Is it time to move beyond these familiar categories, or are they still theoretically useful today? Within the philosophy of religion, one widely influential form of religious pluralism – Hickean pluralism, which posits a single noumenal Reality lying behind all the world’s major religious traditions – has dominated the discussion since the 1990s. However, it faces serious philosophical problems and other forms of pluralist theory have been developed which seek to avoid these. How might religious pluralism, as a theoretical response to religious diversity, best be articulated? What is the relation between it, as a philosophical response, and other approaches to religious diversity?
Sub-theme 2: Epistemological Challenges of Religious Diversity
The fact that the world contains a number of diverse systems of religious belief and practice raises epistemological issues that fall centrally within the range of concerns covered by the philosophy of religion. What are the implications of religious diversity for the ways we might think about the truth, reasonableness, or justification of religious claims? To what extent ought religious diversity undermine confidence in all religious belief systems? Does persistent disagreement about core religious claims among adherents of different religious traditions suggest that none of them are justified in their beliefs? Does diversity fatally erode the view that any religious claims are true? To what extent, if any, does religious diversity undermine claims made on the basis of religious experience? Might the phenomenon of cognitive penetration feature in an explanation of religious diversity? Does reflection on religious diversity suggest that philosophical approaches that do not focus on traditional epistemological notions like ‘truth’ and ‘justification’ are more salient in the religious domain?
Sub-theme 3: The Metaphysics of Religious Diversity
Religious diversity challenges philosophers of religion, and scholars in cognate disciplines, to explore different conceptions of the divine. How might philosophy of religion have to change in response to this challenge? Do the diverse religions of the world exhibit any common features in their ways of conceiving the Ultimate? Does the diverse religious experience of humankind point to an underlying Reality beyond all particular religious conceptions, as John Hick has claimed? How might the various conceptions of the divine that are advanced by different religious traditions be related to such an underlying Reality? Does a religious pluralist need to posit such a Reality to make sense of the idea that all major world religions are equally capable of putting their adherents on the path to the religious goal, however that is conceived? Is the distinction between personal and impersonal conceptions of the Ultimate the most fundamental one, or might other categorical distinctions be equally important to consider, such as causal and acausal, transcendent and non-transcendent?
Sub-theme 4: The Socio-theoretic Implications of Religious Diversity
How should the facts of religious diversity in different parts of the world impact philosophical reflection on the relation of religion and politics, religion and law, religion and the state, and the relation of religious organisations to each other? How are understandings of concepts such as freedom of religion, secularisation, and religious neutrality, affected by the way we think about religious diversity? How might theological or religious ethics assimilate the facts of diversity? How might doctrinal perspectives on religious diversity be fruitfully combined with sociological ones? To what extent does reasonable pluralism (as advocated by Rawls and Habermas) still offer an adequate response to the current societal challenges of religious diversity?
Scott Appleby (University of Notre Dame)
Mikel Burley (University of Leeds)
Tomáš Halík (Charles University, Prague)
Victoria Harrison (University of Macau)
Roger Pouivet (Universite de Lorraine)
Alister E. McGrath (University of Oxford)
Marianne Moyaert (VU University Amsterdam)
Ivana Noble (Charles University, Prague)
Christian Polke (University of Goettingen)
Mikael Stenmark (University of Uppsala)
Philipp Stoellger (University of Heidelberg)
Call for Short Papers
Scholarly short papers (with a reading time of 20 minutes) are invited on the above topics connected to the conference theme. In order to submit your proposal, please, send the abstract (max. 15 lines) to firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline for submissions is April 15th 2018
By the end of April 2018, you will receive notification about whether your paper has been included in the conference (if you need an earlier decision in order to be able to apply for funding, please state that clearly as you submit your abstract and submit the abstract as early as possible). Inquiries can be directed to email@example.com.
The organiser of the conference
Dr. Janusz Salamon (firstname.lastname@example.org)