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Title. T56 1995 210-dc20 ISBN 0-87840-580-1 94-32280 Page v For Elena and Christine of whom I am very proud and to whom I am very grateful for teaching me so much about practical wisdom Page vii Contents Acknowledgments ix Introduction 1 1 Toward a Practical Philosophy of Religion 6 The Construal of Religion and Religious Belief in Modern Philosophy 5 The Legacy of Montaigne 13 Pascal's Wager and Religious Practice 19 Notes 27 2 Religion Practically Defined 29 The Practical Theory of Religion Renewed 30 Religion as a Tradition 32 The Stories of Religious Traditions 39 Religious Founders and Exemplars 41 Religious Goals 43 Religious Communities and Institutions 45 Religion and Epistemology 53 Notes 55 3 Justifying Religious Belief in Modern Religious Epistemology 58 The Parity Problem and the Probability of Theism 59 A New Design Argument for the Reasonableness of Believing in God 68 A Practical Approach to Justifying Religious Belief 77 Notes 89 Page viii 4 Wisdom in Practice 93 The Presumption of Substitutability 94 The Practice of Wisdom 101 Notes 118 5 The Wisdom of Religious Commitment 121 Basic Wisdom in Religious Commitment 123 The Practical Pursuit of Religious Wisdom 131 Conclusion 151 Notes 153 Epilogue: A Practical Conclusion 155 Works Cited 161 Index 169 Page ix Acknowledgments This book has developed slowly and many of its parts were explored in a variety of venues.
This practice requires no external epistemic foundation; convincing people to participate in it, if conviction is necessary, requires practical work and prudential arguments. Modern versions of this practice appear as the "unconstrained communication" postulated by Habermas, the "conversation" advocated by Rorty, and the "universal solidarity" championed by Welch (1990). Beyond the posturing of polemics, such approaches offer the possibility of reasonable and humane argument without a false presumption of the disputants' uncommitted neutrality.
Properly, people of practical wisdom avoid the pitfalls of rashness in action and of refraining when they should act. Virtues, however, are properly not argued about, but shown. Consequently, chapter 4 will display increasingly accomplished exercises of the virtue of practical wisdom. In and through the display of this virtue, one can discern some guidelines for its proper practice. Chapter 5 then moves to the wisdom of religious commitment. How can a wise person hold or take up a religion in all its complexity (as displayed in chapter 2)?