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Genuine philosophical


Jenny Student

CCCOnline, PHI 214

Spring, 2010: Essay Unit 1 According to Chapter 1, what is the difference between reflective and unreflective engagement on the matter of religious questions? How does this question help to further

distinguish between religious “believers” and “non-believers”? Is the distinction useful? Why or why not?

Genuine philosophical discussion requires a willingness to consider and engage

perspectives that may be different from our own. When the topic of God arises in conversation, it

can become challenging to keep this goal in mind, since theists and non-theists alike can become

dogmatic in their positions, and unwilling to engage the matter philosophically. However, it is

necessary to make a distinction between reflective and unreflective engagement. The difference

between reflective and unreflective engagement on religious questions is one of a willingness to

participate in philosophical inquiry, of taking the beliefs that one has and holding them up for

critical examination. The usefulness of the distinction is this: Two individuals may have radically

different views about whether or not God exists, but if they share in a willingness to practice

reflective engagement, then the potential also exists for genuine philosophical discussion and

mutually respectful participation in matters that are of “absolute concern.”

Reflective reason is absolutely essential when we wish to engage in the study of the

philosophy of religion, since reflective reason is central to the study of philosophy.

There is not much of a distinction between reflective believers and reflective non-believers

because they are both are open to scrutinizing their belief systems, and are willing to hold those

beliefs up to scrutiny by others. In order to engage in philosophy of religion or on any other

topic in philosophy, we must be able to systematically and thoroughly examine our arguments

and be able to give rational accounts for their ideas and/or beliefs. As Peterson, et al. point out:


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