Soft Contextualism in the Context of Religious Language

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When trying to do justice to the discourse of a certain religion it is often implicitly assumed that one’s analysis should accord with and respect the opinions held by the people preaching and practicing that religion. One reason for this assumption may be the acceptance of a more general thesis, that adherents of a given religious tradition cannot fail to know the proper content and function of the language and concepts constitutive of it. In this article, the viability of this thesis is explored through an investigation of the extent to which people belonging to a certain religion may be in error about what they mean. I assume that people, if mistaken, are wrong according to a standard which is mind-dependent enough for them to be committed and accountable to it but, at the same time, mind-independent enough for them to be mistaken about it. I try to account for this delicate balance by identifying the standard with a social norm, a mind-independent object of worship or people’s int
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