Problems of Religious Luck, Chapter 3: "Enemy in the Mirror: The Need for Comparative Fundamentalism"

In Problems of Religious Luck: Assessing the Limits of Reasonable Religious Disagreement. Lanham, MD, USA & London, UK: Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield (2019)
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Abstract

Measures of inductive risk and of safety-principle violation help us to operationalize concerns about theological assertions or a sort which, as we saw in Part I, aggravate or intensify problems of religious luck. Our overall focus in Part II will remain on a) responses to religious multiplicity, and b) sharply asymmetrical religious trait-ascriptions to religious insiders and outsiders. But in Part II formal markers of inductive norm violation will supply an empirically-based manner of distinguishing strong from moderate fideism. As we develop these markers we will elaborate their more specific connections with comparative study of religious fundamentalisms (chapters 3 and 4), with exclusivist responses to religious multiplicity (chapter 5), and with working hypotheses in cognitive science of religion (chapter 6). In Chapters 3 the special focus is on the need for comparative fundamentalism (hereafter CF), and on how a better inductive risk ‘toolkit’ can empower its development. The “Enemy in the Mirror” is a metaphor which researchers of CF have sometimes used to describe a phenomena of special concern. This allows that religious fundamentalism per se need not be morally or socially problem, and that the terms such as “fundamentalism” and “fideism should not be over-used by scholars. But the enemy-in-the-mirror phenomena, which gives rise to what I term “bias-mirroring” attributions of good/bad traits to religious insiders and outsiders, carries enormous moral risks. I argue that this is something researchers would do well to study. On the view to be developed, the enemy in the mirror phenomenon is a direct consequent of counter-inductive thinking when applied to a multiplicity of narrative testimonial traditions.

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Guy Axtell
Radford University

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