Pragmatism and Naturalism in Religious Studies

In: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

Abstract

Given the close relationship between pragmatism and naturalism, incorporation of the former into religious studies methodology might seem to privilege the latter. I question this intuition by examining dimensions of pragmatism which suggest that it is more amenable to theism, and less closely tied to naturalism, than many suppose. Pragmatism encourages theoretical openness and reflectivity, which militate against exclusively privileging any particular philosophical perspective. Pragmatism’s most valuable contribution to methodology is the endorsement of a methodological pluralism that relativizes naturalism as one among numerous viable approaches to religious studies.

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