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Religions 2017, 8(10), 220;

Naturalism, Normativity, and the Study of Religion

Divinity School, University of Chicago, 5801 S Ellis Ave, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
Received: 1 September 2017 / Revised: 19 September 2017 / Accepted: 20 September 2017 / Published: 10 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Description, Prescription, and Value in the Study of Religion)
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This article repudiates the common view that the study of religion, in order to qualify as academic, must be descriptively neutral and naturalistic rather than normative or prescriptive. Following philosophers like John McDowell, John Cottingham, and Tyler Roberts, I claim that such a methodological stance amounts to viewing humans as determined rather than free agents. On the basis of W.V.O. Quine and Donald Davidson’s analysis of translation, I argue that normativity is ineliminable from humanistic scholarship, which is itself inextricable from religious studies. Robert Pippin and Thomas A. Lewis’s readings of Hegel then provide resources to reconcile human freedom and constraint in religion. View Full-Text
Keywords: religious studies; philosophy of religion; humanities; normativity; naturalism; methodology; interpretation religious studies; philosophy of religion; humanities; normativity; naturalism; methodology; interpretation
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Mundra, A. Naturalism, Normativity, and the Study of Religion. Religions 2017, 8, 220.

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