Does hope morally vindicate faith?
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Much attention in philosophy of religion has been devoted to the question of whether faith is epistemically rational. But is it morally and practically permissible? This paper explores a response to a family of arguments that Christian faith is morally impermissible or practically irrational, even if epistemically justified. After articulating the arguments, I consider how they would fare if they took seriously the traditional notion that genuine faith is always accompanied by Christian hope. I show how the norms of hope regulate Christian faith in such a way that it does not involve, and certainly does not entail, the morally and practically problematic attitudes and behaviors with which it is associated.
KeywordsFaith Hope Bigotry Self-deception Tolerance
I am grateful to Max Baker-Hytch, Matthew Benton, Michael Bergmann, Rebecca Chan, Dustin Crummet, Liz Jackson, Gideon Jeffrey, Jeff McDonough, Carl Mosser, Mark Murphy, Sam Newlands, Michael Rea, Allison Krile Thornton, and Ted Warfield for comments on an earlier draft of this paper. I also received valuable feedback from audiences at the Notre Dame Center for Philosophy of Religion Spring 2016 Workshop, Notre Dame’s Food for Thought lecture, and the Hope and Optimism Midpoint Collaboratory Conference. I owe gratitude to the guest editors, Dan Howard-Snyder, Daniel McKaughan, and Rebecca Rice for organizing the publication of this special issue of the journal. This project was made possible through a generous Grant from the John Templeton Religious Trust; the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the trust.
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