Problems of Religious Luck, Chapter 6: The Pattern Stops Here?

In Problems of Religious Luck: Assessing the Limits of Reasonable Religious Disagreement. Lanham, MD, USA & London, UK: Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield (2019)
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This book has argued that problems of religious luck, especially when operationalized into concerns about doxastic risk and responsibility, can be of shared interest to theologians, philosophers, and psychologists. We have pointed out counter-inductive thinking as a key feature of fideistic models of faith, and examined the implications of this point both for the social scientific study of fundamentalism, and for philosophers’ and theologians’ normative concerns with the reasonableness of a) exclusivist attitudes to religious multiplicity, and b) theologically-cast but bias-mirroring trait-ascriptions to religious insiders and outsiders. It is important to keep the descriptive/explanatory and normative concerns properly separated, but philosophy of luck and risk are relevant to both. More specifically, inductive risky theological strategies,we have argued, are a relevant concern both descriptively and normatively. The descriptive/explanatory relevance of measures of high inductive risk connects it with cognitive and social psychology of religion, while its normative relevance connects with critical concerns with epistemology of testimony, the epistemology of disagreement, and the ethics of belief. A research program to examine fideistic orientation and its relation to epistemically risky doxastic strategies is one of potentially numerous research programs on which philosophers and psychologists might work collaboratively. So this concluding chapter of our study culminates with the outline of a proposed research program at the intersection of shared concerns. I term this research program CICI, because it examines what lies at the intersection of CSR’s standing interest in the appeal of counter-intuitive ideas, and our own study’s focus on the fideistic penchant for counter-inductive thinking. Religious Studies scholars typically focus on particular traditions and teachings, while CSR scholars tend to eschew such content-focused approaches in favor of a study of evolutionary and hence generic or trans-religious functions and processes. I argue that CICI has the added benefit of effectively mediating this generic-specific contrast between CSR and Religious Studies, allowing CSR research to be more closely connected with and relevant to comparative fundamentalism.

Author's Profile

Guy Axtell
Radford University


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