How Religion Informs Philosophizing

In an interview at What Is It Like To Be A Philosopher?, Christian Miller, the A. C. Reid Professor of Philosophy at Wake Forest University, discusses, among other things, the relationship between his religious and philosophical commitments.

Interviewer Clifford Sosis (Coastal Carolina) asks Miller: “Do your religious views inform your philosophical views? Do your philosophical views influence your religious views?”

Miller replies:

They do. And, incidentally, I think everyone’s religious views (where this includes being an agnostic or atheist) informs his or her philosophical views, at least in the sense of opening and closing certain positions from serious consideration. Consider atheism and divine command theory, for instance. Or atheism and Reformed epistemology.

One example of how my religious views inform my philosophical views is in meta-ethics. There I take seriously views which ground deontological moral properties in God’s will (so divine will theories, not divine command theories). I have written several papers trying to think through such an approach.

Of course there are many views I hold in philosophy that don’t seem to be informed by my religious views. For instance, I am confident I would still reject the Humean theory of motivation, motivational internalism, internalist views about normative reasons, identification approaches to agency, various formulations of moral realism, and so forth even if I suddenly became an atheist.

As far as my philosophical views informing my religious views, one example is that I have incompatibilist leanings about free will, which makes it hard for to accept certain views about predestination, election, and divine determinism.

I take it that the contrasting of religious views and philosophical views in the first part of this exchange is meant to focus discussion on those religious views which are themselves not the conclusions of philosophical argument. With that in mind, I’m curious what other philosophers, both religious and nonreligious, think of Miller’s claim that “everyone’s religious views (where this includes being an agnostic or atheist) informs his or her philosophical views.”

The whole interview is here.

Dariusz Labuzek, “Eschaton”

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