Analysis Of Hickean Religious Pluralism

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I begin by describing the Hickean account of religious pluralism. Essentially Hick aims to explain religious plurality through the shared salvific experiences and values of the Real. I then give Hick’s conception of what the Real is and how it relates to major religions. Hickean religious pluralism faces what I consider to be fatal criticisms with regards to the nature of the Real, the result is that either the Real is contradictory or fails in its explanatory value. I, therefore, conclude that Hickean religious pluralism is not a plausible philosophical position.

Hickean religious pluralism (HRP) aims to give a theoretical account of religious diversity; it does this by drawing on key similarities between the world religions and claiming
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Those properties that Hick ascribes to the Real such as not being personal, its transcendence, and it being the thing that religious experience is a response to, are not actually ascribable. This is because they are not formal properties, they are substantive properties and therefore not attributable to the Real. The issue then is that we cannot say of the Real that it is transcendent or not transcendent, that it is personal or not personal (Yandel, 1999). The criticism leads to many of the core claims HRP makes of the Real to be doubted. No moral properties are ascribable and so what it considered appropriate behaviour with respect to it is suspect (Plantinga, 2000). The same applies to distinguishing religious experience as opposed to any other experience as an appropriate response to the Real, as causal properties are not attributable (Yandell, 1999). In response to Plantinga’s point on morality Hick argues he is ‘seeking a religious interpretation of religion globally, an interpretation which starts from the conviction that there is a transcendent reality of limitless importance to us.’ (Hick, 2004: xxv). In addition, to this, he says we should also apply critical trust to the other great religions and only doubt religious experience when we have good reason to. These religious experiences are judged based on their moral and spiritual impact and are best explained by moving from self-centeredness to Reality-centeredness (Hick, 2004). Harrison points out that Hick’s religious convictions themselves require support (Harrisson, 2015). It is not enough for Hick to say he is giving a religious interpretation of religion, or that he is starting with a conviction of a transcendent realities existence, these things themselves require reason for us to support them. Starting with the conviction that there is a transcendent reality that religious experience is a response is not a position
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