What About Unjustified Religious Difference? Response paper to Dirk-Martin Grube, ‘Justified Religious Difference’

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    The aim of this paper is to shed some light on the distinction between justified and unjustified religious diversity, a problem that Dirk-Martin Grube only hinted at in his article on Justified Religious Difference. This article’s focus is not so much on the epistemological question of justifying religious difference, but on how to deal with it in the societal sphere. This implies that religions and religious diversity will be approached from a practical perspective, that is as (reasoned) ways of life. I start by examining the opportunities and problems of religious diversity, opposing a universalist and a particularist view on this issue. Religious difference is an opportunity, because it is intertwined with creativity and innovation, but it is also a problem, because it confronts us with incompatible judgments, irreconcilable values, and contrary principles.
    Notwithstanding the legitimate objections that can be raised against the particularist position, the above observations seriously undermine Grube’s idea that the distinction between justified and unjustified religious difference can be made unambiguously, because of the heterogeneous character of the idea of justification itself. In order to deal with this issue, I propose a re-examination of the idea of tolerance, defined as a virtue: I disapprove of your manner of living, but I respect in it your liberty to live as you please and I recognize your right to manifest it publicly. But this virtue makes only sense against the background of the intolerable, which is the translation of the idea of unjustified religious difference into the language of the public debate. This idea serves as an always fragile limit to tolerance.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)445-452
    Number of pages8
    JournalInternational Journal of Philosophy andTheology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2015


    • particularism
    • religious tolerance
    • Religious diversity
    • religious pluralism
    • universalism


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