Religious Language Exam Questions

  • Created by: Elena.S
  • Created on: 03-05-17 18:35

Views of meaning of religious language (7)

1) cognitivism: judgements expresses true or false beliefs about world; sentences are meaningful if attempting to/telling us about world
2) non-cognitivism: judgements expresses feelings/values/indefinite claims; sentences are meaningful even if not telling us something about world (which doesn't have to be true or false)

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Define verification principle (2)

  • Principle stating that sentences are only meaningful if true by definition (analytic) or empirically verifiable
  • therefore religious language is devoid of meaning
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Criticisms of verification principle (7)

1) how much can we verify? i.e past events bc we can't observe/subject hypothesis to new forms of testing
DEFENCE
strong (language meaningful if verified through observation to establish truth) and weak verification (meaningful if verified through observation to establish probability)
2) impossible to verify emotions
3) principle itself not true by definition or empirically verified therefore meaningless
4) Hick: eschatological verification (possible to verify in afterlife if God exists)
5) Swinburne: propositions which no one knows how to verify but still meaningless i.e toys that dance when no one's watching or life on Neptune, not verifiable but meaningless bc there is concept of it, potential for talk of God to be similar
DEFENCE
Strong and weak verification
6) generalisations can't be 100% verifiable so science is meaningless

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Criticisms of metaphysics as meaningless (5)

1) too aggressive
2) verification principle is meaningless
3) Hick: statements of factual significance that can be verified are meaningful. If true and makes difference to experience, it's significant and therefore meaningful. To verify, remove grounds for rational doubt and if sufficient evidence, it's meaningful
4) Hick: Parable of Celestial City (celestial city person sees good events as encouragements/bad events as trials for purpose; nowhere person enjoys good events/endures bad events - good is worth suffering in order to get to heaven and meet God which verifies his existence)
5) Hick: eschatological verification; if personable identity is preserved after disappearing/reappearing in one country, why not in afterlife?
CRITICISMS
1) bodily continuity - perfect duplicates don't have same personal identity
2) verification after death - possible that God/heaven is beyond comprehensive and we wouldn't recognise it so wouldn't be able to verify it

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Define falsification (2)

  • if it's possible for assertions to be false (logically incompatible with some set of empirical observations - claims must rule out certain experiences in order to be asserting anything) they are meaningful
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Defence of falsification (7)

1) Generalisations are acceptable ("all swans are white" is not verifiable but is falsifiable (one black swan))
2) Popper: scientific hypothesis are done in this ways so should be applied to moral claims i.e evidence against hypotheses prove it to be wrong so another hypothesis devised

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Flew's view of religious language (5)

  • cognitivist
  • Parable of the Gardner; God dies "death of 1000 qualifications" - no evidence will be allowed against religious language
  • Religious language therefore meaningless
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Hare's view of religious language (5)

  • non-cognitivist
  • We hold bliks (non-rational beliefs which cannot be falsified that may/may not be true and can't be given up easily) which are expressions of attitudes that underpins other beliefs
  • Parable of lunatic student who won't accept that professor won't actually kill him
  • Religious language is meaningful to each person
    CRITICISM
    Flew: bliks are fundamentally misguided so don't make any sense
    RESPONSE
    Hick: reason behind bliks i.e experience/beliefs/scriptures make it impossible to judge if bliks is sane
    Mitchell: language meaningful bc grounded in some face; eschatological verification (if deist dies and finds out that God does exist = verifiable; if not = falsifiable
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Mitchell's view of religious language (5)

  • cognitivist
  • Parable of the partisan and stranger (partisan [believer] chooses to trust stranger [God] despite evidence to the contrary)
  • Disagreed with Flew: religious language is falsifiable
  • Disagreed with Hare: religious language is not just expression of bliks
  • Believers face constant doubts
  • Religious language has meaning
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Wittgenstein's view of religious language (5)

  • non-cognitivist
  • Language games; language take meaning from context in which it's used, if initiated into "game", it has meaning i.e be a theist for religious language to make any sense
    CRITICISM
  • anything spoken that is understood by other "players" is meaningful
  • language no longer connected to world (anti-realism)
  • theists argue religion is just a language game
  • language can never convert truth in absolute sense
  • implication that philosophical debates can never progress/based in misunderstandings in language
  • irrationalism/blind faith bc no justification required
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Braithwaite's view of religious language (5)

  • non-cognitivist
  • Religious language used to express commitment to particular ethical way of life i.e God is love = I will act in a selfless way therefore religions somewhat identical in message but differ in origin story
    CRITICISMS
  • does this truly reflect how religious believers actually think they're using the language? They don't necessarily think it's the same as moral statements with stories, taken literally rather than as commitment to ethical code
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Crombie's view of religious language (5)

  • non-cognitivist
    Via negativa: describing god by what he's not; "God" is proper name for describing particular being
    CRITICISM
    we can't do this in everyday language
    RESPONSE
    we can describe God as to what he is not i.e limited, finite, dependent, material, temporal bc language is inadequate (negative assertions) , God is defined by his opposite
    CRITICISMS
  • believers want to be positive about God and what he IS
  • Is this strange formulations of "god of the gaps"? What's left when you've finished explaining what God isn't?
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