In Pragmatic Philosophy of Religion: Melioristic Case Studies, Ulf Zackariasson argues for the fruitfulness of pragmatic philosophy of religion by bringing it to bear on a number of classical topics within the contemporary philosophy of religion. Zackariasson first outlines a version of pragmatic philosophy of religion that takes the pragmatic insistence on the primacy of practice to heart. Here, he shows that religious traditions and their secular counterparts transmit a number of paradigmatic responses that adherents can draw on in their encounters with human life’s existential contingencies. He further discusses the upshot of this approach for how we think of miracles, religious diversity, and what it is to be religiously mistaken. In each case, Zackariasson shows that a pragmatic approach offers important novel perspectives and insights that contemporary (primarily analytic) philosophy of religion tends to neglect. By relating to debates and well-known positions within the contemporary philosophy of religion, he also makes these novel perspectives and insights concrete for those who are not already committed pragmatists. The case studies thus serve as invitations to constructive dialogue within an increasingly pluralistic philosophy of religion.
Ulf Zackariasson is associate professor of philosophy of religion at Uppsala University, Sweden.
Part I: A Pragmatic Philosophy of Religion with a Melioristic Flavor
1. The Pragmatic raison d’étre of Pragmatic Philosophy of Religion
2. Pragmatism and Pragmatic Philosophy of Religion
Part II: Melioristic Applications: Three Case Studies in the Pragmatic Philosophy of Religion
3. What Is It to Be Religiously Mistaken? (and Why We Should Concentrate on That Question)
4. Our Claimed Lives: Meliorism, Miracles and the Miraculous
5. Pragmatic Pluralisms and Religious Diversities: Diapractice and Existential Agent-Regret
About the Author
"Ulf Zackariasson makes a genuinely original contribution to pragmatist philosophy of religion by exploring the fascinating 'melioristic case studies' of being 'religiously mistaken,' the miraculous, and religious diversities. He demonstrates that pragmatism can open a considerably more sophisticated perspective on these debates than the more mainstream approaches in the field, arguing that it offers insights that one does not have to be a pragmatist to appreciate. This is pragmatist philosophy practiced, not merely pragmatism interpreted, reminding us about our philosophical, ethical, and existential responsibility in developing a pragmatic pluralism about religious (and secular) matters of life and death. "
"Ulf Zackariasson's book is enlightening in the very best sense of the word: It clarifies puzzles and problems in religion with the help of pragmatist philosophy. He shows the impact that pragmatism can have on this clarifying task in a highly accessible way. Any reader concerned with religious questions will benefit from engaging with his rich discussions."
"In this lucidly written and engaging book, Zackariasson both proposes and then enacts—in three illuminating case studies—a fresh approach to philosophizing about religion. Conversant with other, more mainstream approaches, nevertheless, he articulates a distinctively pragmatic alternative, one that emphasizes the primacy of practice as a factor shaping the lives of human beings who 'in-habit' both religious traditions and the world. Because of his commitment to the pragmatic ideals of fallibilism and meliorism, Zackariasson has produced a study that invites and will reward the attention of philosophers, scholars, and students of religion representing a great variety of methodologies and perspectives. This is an important book!"
"In recent decades, pragmatist perspectives have provided fresh and powerful insights into problems involving race, gender, animals, the environment, and technology. But for billions of people, religious practice and belief is both a profound ingredient in those areas of concern, as well as an arena with its own problems and proposed solutions.
In this lucid and pertinent book, Ulf Zackariasson takes pragmatism's 'primacy of practice' seriously; his problem-oriented approach draws constructively from both newer and classic pragmatists, and sheds new light on old but enduring debates. The payoff is a portrait of religion and religious belief which is active, agential, practical, and pertinent. Pragmatic Philosophy of Religion bakes real bread."
"This book is especially commendable on two counts. First, it is a judicious, informative discussion of many different approaches to the philosophy of religion. The author is always considerate and fair in his discussion of views different from his own, just as he draws fruitfully on those similar to his. Second, he develops and effectively defends the thesis that the principal task of religion is practical or existential, not merely emotional or intellectual. Religion is a melioristic way of life primarily, and only secondarily a way of feeling or thinking. This is an extremely appropriate and helpful way of thinking about religion."