A Critique of Victoria S. Harrison’s Internal Realist Approach to Pluralism
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Victoria S. Harrison’s theory of internal pluralism approaches religious beliefs in terms of conceptual schemes. To her, this approach has the advantage of preserving core pluralist intuitions without being challenged by the usual difficulties (such as the incompatibility problem). My claim is that this is not the case. After providing a succinct presentation of internal pluralism, I show that the critique of traditional pluralist views such as Hick’s may also be addressed to Harrison. There are two main reasons in support of my claim. Firstly, a believer’s common understanding of religious experiences (both mystical and ritual) conflicts with the way in which internal pluralism understands religious belief. Such conflict implies that if internal pluralism were a sound theory, most religious beliefs would turn out to be false, and, contrary to Harrison’s intention, they would be rendered cognitively irrelevant. Secondly, internal pluralism excludes the possibility of religious disagreements. By applying to religions an epistemological approach based on conceptual schemes, doxastic dissent is actually dismantled at the cost of developing an entirely solipsistic reading of religious beliefs. In the final section of my paper, I will show that such unattractive features are consequences of the notion of conceptual scheme.
KeywordsReligious pluralism Internal pluralism Religious diversity Religious belief Victoria S. Harrison
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