The Reduction of Religion to Morality

  • William Warren BartleyIII
Part of the New Studies in the Philosophy of Religion book series (NSPR)


In another book, The Retreat to Commitment, I treated a version of our third possibility: that religion is reducible to morality.1 There I argued that one such position —represented by what was known as Protestant liberalism —was quite convincing for a long period during the nineteenth century, but that it was decisively undermined by biblical exegesis as well as by philosophical and social criticism during the early decades of the twentieth century. I have just referred to this position as a version of our third possibility, and the qualifier should be taken seriously. For one thing, it is doubtful that Protestant liberalism did ever achieve a full reduction of religion to morality. For another, the defeat of Protestant liberalism was carried out within a Christian framework. That no reduction of religion to morality could be carried out within Christianity by no means implies that there is no religion which may not be reducible to morality. Confucianism is a possible candidate example of such a reduction.


Logical Empiricist Christian Tradition Religious Language Religious Discourse Christian Religion 
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Copyright information

© William Warren Bartley, III 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Warren BartleyIII
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PittsburghUSA

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