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Knowledge, Action, Pluralism

Contemporary Perspectives in Philosophy of Religion

Sebastian Kolodziejczyk and Janusz Salamon

In this book, an international team of scholars from leading American, British and Continental European universities, led by Richard Swinburne, Eleonore Stump, William Wainwright and Linda Zagzebski, presents original ideas about three currently discussed topics in the philosophy of religion: religious epistemology, the philosophy of God’s action in the world, including the problem of evil and Divine Providence, and the philosophical challenge of religious diversity. The book contains echoes of all four main strands of the late 20th century philosophy of religion: Richard Swinburne’s philosophical theology, Alvin Plantinga’s reformed epistemology, John Hick’s theory of religious pluralism, and the philosophy of religion inspired by the work of the later Wittgenstein. One of the distinguishing features of this volume is that it mirrors a new trend towards philosophical cooperation across the so-called continental/analytic divide.
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The last few decades of the 20th century witnessed a somewhat unexpected renaissance of academic philosophy of religion, especially in the Anglophone countries and in analytic philosophy circles. This period of almost unprecedented flourishing of this branch of philosophy, which in the eyes of many was destined for oblivion, was preceded by a period of diffidence and stagnation, no doubt caused in part by the long shadow of logical positivism which dismissed all claims of the philosophy of religion and metaphysics as meaningless.

The radical change has been brought about by a generation of philosophers led by two towering figures that have dominated the landscape of the late 20th century philosophy of religion: Alvin Plantinga and Richard Swinburne. Plantinga, through his first important book, God and Other Minds (1967), initiated the movement towards the rehabilitation of the philosophy of religion, and later developed a version of anti-evidentialist religious epistemology that he dubbed Reformed Epistemology. Swinburne, in a remarkable series of books beginning with The Coherence of Theism (1977) worked out an alternative and equally comprehensive treatment of the main problems of the philosophy of religion and philosophical theology, which on one hand can be considered continuous with natural theology in the tradition of Thomas Aquinas, and on the other hand utilises the achievements of a 20th century methodology of science. Of the remaining strands of late 20th century philosophy of religion, two may be thought to have the greatest resonance and significance, if not matching the...

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