I will hold to one other distinction: prayer in itself, one may say, implies nothing other than the supplicating address to the other, perhaps beyond all supplication and giving, to give the promise of His presence as other, and finally the transcendence of His otherness itself, even without any other determination; the encomium, although it is not a simple attributive speech, nevertheless preserves an irreducible relationship to the attribution. Marion does not give specifics, but one way of developing his is account is to take 12 to be communicating something like :.
Derrida is, in effect, reading too much into the surface appearance of utterances: 12 and 13 may look similar but they are not thereby speech acts of the same type. There are, however, some obvious challenges that need to be addressed. For example, Marion claims in praising God the predicates that are ascribed to God are recognised as inadequate by speakers. This seems implausible.
Speakers in many cases appear to believe what they are saying about God. Some fictionalists propose that that speakers employ quasi-assertion. A quasi-assertion is a speech act that has the appearance of an assertion—it is the utterance of an indicative sentence—but it does not commit the speaker to the truth of the expressed proposition.
The speaker goes along with or accepts the content of what is quasi-asserted but does not thereby believe it. The details of quasi-assertion depend on the kind of fictionalism being proposed and a variety of options have been proposed for an overview see Kalderon — On some accounts, quasi-assertion involves the assertion of something other than the propositional content of the uttered sentence. For example, a fictionalist about mathematics might argue that a mathematical sentence M is used to assert that M is true according to standard mathematics Field Alternatively, to quasi-assert a sentence might be to pretend to assert it.
Comparable approaches are found among religious fictionalist. Peter Lipton , for instance, suggests that engagement with religious could be akin to immersion in a fiction; the fictionalist accordingly pretends that the claims of religion are true. Other religious fictionalists such as Robin Le Poidevin propose that the fictionalist, without believing that a religious utterance is true, may say it on the basis that it is true within some religious tradition.
Particularly important for our purposes is the distinction between revolutionary and hermeneutic fictionalism. Revolutionary religious fictionalism is not a theory of religious language—it is not a position on what speakers actually mean—but instead a revisionary proposal that is usually offered in response to error theory about religion. Despite religious claims being untrue, revolutionary fictionalists argue religious discourse has sufficient pragmatic benefits that we should continue to employ religious language and engage in religious thought rather than eliminate it, even though we should not believe that it is true.
In general, revolutionary fictionalism is motivated by the wish to continue to receive the social and other benefits of engagement with a religion without commitment to its truth. LePoidevin and Lipton are both revolutionary fictionalists. The Sea of Faith Network, inspired by the work of Don Cupitt , can also be understood as sympathetic to revolutionary fictionalism because it promotes Christian practice and the continuing engagement with religious discourse without religious belief.
Interesting though they are, we will not be investigating these theories further because they are not saying anything about the meaning of religious utterances.
Instead, they recommending a change of attitude towards the claim of religion and quasi-assert rather than assert them. Hermeneutic fictionalism about religion is the view that speakers are not committed to the truth of what they say on religious matters: speakers are quasi-asserting rather than asserting indicative religious sentences.
This is not offered as a proposal about what speakers should do but instead as a fact about current linguistic practice.
Speakers accept but do not believe what they say when engaging in religious discourse. Nevertheless, there are a couple of positions that look to be potential contenders for religious hermeneutic fictionalism.
First, Georges Rey has defended a position that he calls meta-atheism according to which practitioners of religion exhibit widespread self-deception about what they say For anyone with a basic education in science, Rey contends, it is obvious that religious claims are false. Rey is not proposing, however, that educated speakers are insincere when they affirm religious claims since they may think of themselves as believing what they are saying Instead, speakers are in a state of self-deception.
While they may recognise on a more critical level that religious claims are false, they do not entertain this when engaging in religious discourse. Why do religious people do not recognise and consciously draw out the implications of their disbelief?
However, with some assumptions about self-deception, we can understand meta-atheism as a kind of hermeneutic religious fictionalism. Speakers are in a conflicted state of self-deception that falls short of belief: on some level or in some uncritical contexts speakers treat religious claims as if they were true, while also believing in critical and reflective contexts that they are false.
Accordingly, in uttering religious sentences speakers engage in quasi-assertion whereby they accept what is said without genuinely believing it to be true. Second, a point of debate in current research on the nature of faith is whether propositional faith—i. Supporters of traditional doxastic accounts defend this condition while supporters of non-doxastic theories of faith argue that it is sufficient that one have a positive cognitive attitude towards p other than belief.
Various proposal for what this non-doxastic attitude is. Candidates include: acceptance Alston , assent Schellenberg , assumption Swinburne ; Howard-Snyder , trust Audi , hope McKaughan ; Pojman and , or acquiescence Buchak However, to the extent that religious discourse is in the business of trading in the expression of faithful attitudes then it follows from the non-doxastic position that a speaker may sincerely affirm their faith in a religious proposition without believing it to be true. Notably, some non-doxastic theorists offer linguistic evidence to show that speakers to not believe what they say.
It seems likely that many proponents of non-doxastic theories of faith will not welcome the characterisation of their position as a variety of hermeneutic fictionalism see Howard-Snyder and F. Malcolm forthcoming.
However, non-doxastic theories are usually presented primarily as psychological or epistemological theories about the nature of faith; the implications of the position for religious discourse, and its relationship with hermeneutic fictionalism, have yet to be fully set out. We have been looking at theories than characterise the affirmation of indicative religious sentences by a type of speech act other than literal assertion.
However, some accounts propose that religious discourse, rather than exhibiting a distinctive type of speech act, employs language for certain distinctive purposes. This section will consider the accounts from Ian Ramsey and more recently Rowan Williams According to Ramsey, full-blooded religious engagement involves two things: a commitment and a discernment. With respect to utterances about God, Ramsey says:. My suggestion is that we understand their logical behaviour aright if we see them as primarily evocative of what we have called the odd discernment, that characteristically religious situation which, if evoked, provokes a total commitment.
Some utterances he takes to be expressive of attitudes.
Some are metalinguistic claims about the proper use of religious discourse:. However, for Ramsey, religious sentences have representational content but are used by speakers in a variety of non-representational ways—expressive, metalinguistic, to generate a sense of mystery—for the purposes of evoking discernment and encouraging commitment, rather than descriptively.
Recently Rowan Williams has proposed that religious language serves to challenge us both morally, by undermining selfishness and complacency, as well as conceptually by encouraging us to think about the world in different terms. A similar approach is taken to discourse about God. These purposes can be furthered even by using religious sentences that are not consistent. One obvious point to raise is that if engagement in religious discourse is driven by the purposes that Ramsey and Williams describe then it seems that one need not be concerned with the truth of what one says.
Notably, Williams appears to by sympathetic to the endorsement of incoherent claims if they further the broader proposed purposes of religious discourse. However, caution is needed in classifying these accounts as descriptive of religious discourse rather than revisionary proposals for objectives that speakers might aim for.
If they fall into the latter category, then they are in a similar position to revolutionary fictionalism. For convenience, let us call these realism-relevant concepts. The opposition involves two main ideas. First, rather than posit a demanding standard that a field of discourse must meet to count as genuinely descriptive, minimalists propose that a discourse that satisfies very modest conditions—for example, that it possesses a truth predicate and standards of justification for what is affirmed or rejected—is thereby descriptive.
Minimalists thereby reject a uniform account of descriptiveness across different areas of discourse.
Descriptiveness, reference, truth, and so on are language-game-internal concepts: they are constituted differently in different areas of discourse. The discussion in this section touches on issues that have been explored in detail outside of the philosophy of religion.
Intuitively, it seems that there must be such conditions if the meaning of the expression remains the same when it is used in different contexts. Putnam proposes that Wittgenstein took a similar lesson to apply to notions like language , reference and truth :. There are overlapping similarities between one sort of referring and the next, that is all.
Philosophical confusion results when, for instance, we attempt to apply standards of reference appropriate to descriptions of the perceived world to mathematical claims. Putnam then extends this point to religion:. A similar point is taken to extend to truth, descriptiveness and other realism-relevant concepts. Second, Putnam argues that truth can be understood as idealised rational acceptability. To be truth-apt, it is sufficient that the assertoric utterances of religious discourse are governed by internal standards of warrant.