The Realism/Anti-Realism Debate in Religion

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Abstract

This paper sets out issues in the realist/anti-realist debate in philosophy of religion. These include the existence of God and the meaning of prayer. The paper describes motivations for anti-realism in religion such as the recognition of conflicting religious claims and a desire for tolerance. It explores instrumentalism and reductionism as possible anti-realist strategies. Parallels between the debate in religion and the corresponding debate in philosophy of science are used to inform the discussion in the religious sphere. Shared aspects of science and religion feature in a pragmatic argument suggesting that the advantages of realism outweigh those of anti-realism for religion.

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