Richard Rorty on the Compatibility of Science & Religion

source: Philosophical Overdose    2013年5月2日
In this talk, Richard Rorty discusses the ethics of belief and the apparent conflict between religion and science. Unsurprisingly, Rorty, following both James and Dewey, provides a pragmatist or relativist account. He argues that because science and religion are not actually competing to describe the one true way the world "really" is in itself, apart from all human needs and interests, there's no real underlying logical inconsistency. Rorty suggests that we give up on the realist's correspondence theory of truth and instead take the pragmatist route, where science and religion are simply understood as tools which have different purposes: one involves predicting and controlling nature, the other with finding meaning. In the process, Rorty discusses other attempts to reconcile science and religion, including Paul Tillich's distinction between literal and symbolic truth (i.e. scientific beliefs are literally true, while religious beliefs are only symbolically true), as well as William James' infamous pragmatist lecture The Will to Believe, which itself was a response to William K. Clifford's evidentialist epistemology which maintained that it's always wrong and intellectually irresponsible to believe something upon insufficient evidence.
This lecture was given at West Valley College.

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