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Religious Tolerance, Diversity, and Pluralism

  • Peter Byrne (a1)


The theme of this paper can be introduced in this way: does a pluralist approach to religion entail a pluralist approach to religion? My theme is not that odd, because I have two notions of pluralism in mind. There is what I will call ‘tolerant pluralism’ and what I will call ‘religious pluralism’. And thus my question is ‘Does tolerant pluralism re religion entail religious pluralism?’



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1 Quinn ‘Religious Diversity and Tolerance’, International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion 50 (2001), 5780; On Religious Diversity and Tolerance’, Daedalus 134 (2005), 136–39.

2 Quinn, ‘On Religious Diversity and Tolerance’, 136.

3 Adapted from McKinnon, C.Toleration (London, Routledge, 2006), 14.

4 For this phrase see Williams, B. ‘Toleration: an Impossible Virtue?’ in Heyd, D. (ed.) Toleration: an Elusive Virtue (Princeton,Princeton University Press), 1827.

5 Mendus, S.Toleration and the Limits of Liberalism (Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1989), 19.

6 For the idea that tolerance involves a change of perspective towards belief and behaviour see Heyd, D. ‘Introduction’ in Heyd, D. (ed.) Toleration: an Elusive Virtue (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1996), 1114.

7 Oberdiek, H.Tolerance: Between Forbearance and Acceptance (Lanham, Rowman and Littlefield, 2001), 2833.

8 See Solomon, N. ‘Is the Plurality of Faiths Problematic?’ in Sharma, A. (ed.) God, Truth and Reality (Basingstoke, Macmillan 1993), 189–99.

9 See Byrne, P.Prolegomena to Religious Pluralism (Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1995), 12.

10 See Hick, J.An Interpretation of Religion (Basingstoke, Macmillan, 2004), ch. 19.

11 For a survey of the issues in general epistemology see Kelly, T. ‘The Epistemic Significance of Disagreement’ in Gendlier, T. Z. and Hawthorne, J. (eds) Oxford Studies in Epistemology, vol. 1 (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 2006), 167–95, and for survey of the issues in the epistemology of religion see Kraft, J., ‘Religious Disagreement, Externalism, and the Epistemology of Disagreement: Listening to our Grandmothers’, Religious Studies 43 (2007), 417–32.

12 See Kelly ‘The Epistemic Significance of Disagreement’, 179.

13 Tabandeh, S.A Muslim commentary on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Goulding, F. J. tr, (Guildford, F.J. Goulding, 1970), 71–2.

14 Tabandeh, A Muslim Commentary on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 72–3.

15 See Hick An Interpretation of Religion, Part II and also McKim, R.On Religious Ambiguity’, Religious Studies 44 (2008), 373–92.

16 Wisdom, J. ‘Gods’ in Wisdom, J.Philosophy and Psychoanalysis, (Oxford, Blackwell, 1953), 157. See also Mitchell, B. G., The Justification of Religious Belief (London, Macmillan, 1973).

17 Wittgenstein, L.Philosophical Investigations, tr. Anscombe, E. (Oxford, Blackwell, 1963), 193ff.

18 Rousseau, J. J. (1968) The Social Contract, tr. Cole, G. D. H. (London, Dent, 1968), 114.

19 As in Craig, William Lane“ No Other Name”: A Middle Knowledge Perspective on the Exclusivity of Salvation through Christ’, Faith and Philosophy 6 (1989), 172–88.


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