Pragmatism, Religion and Ethics: A Review Essay. H. Deuser et al, The Varieties of Transcendence: Pragmatism and the Theory of Religion, New York: Fordham University Press, 2016; N. Brunsveld, The Many Faces of Religious Truth: Hilary Putnam’s Pragmatic Pluralism on Religion, Leuven: Peeters, 2017; D.B. Heney, Toward a Pragmatist Metaethics, London: Routledge, 2016

Vincenzo Romania

Abstract


In the last decades, pragmatism is consolidating its influence on social sciences, both in terms of epistemology and ontology. A series of recent philosophical publications deal with a rather classical pragmatist topic — the relationship between morality, religion, and truth — in quite a new shape. First, they deal with the conception of a pragmatist epistemology based on situated morality and truth aptness of moral judgments. Second, they propose a large reflection on the relationship between theology and pluralism in terms of truth regimes. Finally, they try to overcome the pitfalls of the Jamesian phenomenological conception of religion, through both the semiotic lens of Charles S. Peirce and the rediscovery of the Josiah Royce’s works. This paper uses the stimuli of the three books listed above to introduce the reader to a socio-philosophical perspective rather not considered in the European debate, despite its importance for the development of American sociology (symbolic interactionism, the School of Chicago, R.K. Merton, among the others) and for a variety of European scholars. A second objective is to understand how the problems pragmatist philosophers encounter in analysing the religious phenomena could help understanding the need for a multifactorial and multilevel explanation of religion and ethics. Finally, in the discussion, the author critically enlightens the need to avoid collapsing morality into religion — as sometimes pragmatists do — and extends and reframes Hans Joas’ appropriation of Mead and Durkheim in his pragmatist approach to religion and morality.

Keywords


pragmatism; ethics; religion; epistemology; social theory

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.1971-8853/9088

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