INQUIRY, CONVERSATION AND THEISTIC BELIEF: WILLIAM JAMES AND RICHARD RORTY GET RELIGION

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Abstract

This essay examines William James' view that pragmatic philosophy allows for theistic belief and compares it to Richard Rorty's argument that theistic belief is fundamentally incompatible with pragmatic philosophy. Theism is permissible for James because it is commensurate with his view of philosophy as inquiry. Theism is impermissible for Rorty because it incommensurate with his view of philosophy as conversation. James' arguments are shown to be too generic in their conception of the God in whom theistic belief may be placed, and Rorty's arguments against the desirability of theistic belief are shown to run afoul of his own philosophical program.

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