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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: July 2009

The Ethics of Religious Belief: A Recent History


We begin with some truth in advertising: our title's and is really the logician's inclusive or. In other words, not all the essays in this book are strictly about God and the ethics of belief (where “the ethics of belief” refers to a specific research program in epistemology). Rather, some are mainly about God, whereas others are about God and belief; some focus on the ethics of belief, whereas still others are about both God and the ethics of belief. Most were first drafted for a 2002 conference in honor of Nicholas Wolterstorff upon his retirement from teaching; thus, the range of topics reflects his research interests as well as those of the authors.

The subtitle echoes the title of an edited volume published exactly fifty years ago: New Essays in Philosophical Theology. The goal of that volume was to offer a sampling of a newly active research program in analytic philosophy, a program that the editors referred to as “philosophical theology” rather than “philosophy of religion” because of the latter term's association in those days with Hegelian thought. The first New Essays dealt with religious topics of philosophical interest ranging from the nature of God and the rationality of theism to the metaphysical possibility of an afterlife and the status of religious language. This volume, likewise, provides a snapshot of the field – fifty years along – and addresses many of the same topics.