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Roger Pouivet
The Right to Believe that only one Religion is true

Roger Pouivet
prof. à l’Université de Lorraine Institut Universitaire de France,
Laboratoire d’His-toire des Sciences et de Philosophie Archives Henri-Poincaré (CNRS), 91,
Avenue de la Libération,54001 Nancy Cedex (France);
e-mail: roger.pouivet@univ-lorraine.fr


Some philosophers claim to show that religious diversity should lead rational beings to findsome conciliation between them. They say that diversity should mean that no one could pre-tend to hold the truth. We must therefore renounce alethic exclusivity, the claim that a cer-tain religion possesses by itself the truth. This encourages religious scepticism, becausewhen well-informed and reasonable people disagree about their religious or anti-religiousbeliefs, their confidence in the justification of their beliefs must be reduced or diminished –even if that belief were true – to the point that these people are intellectually reconciled. Letus call this claim the Principle of Intellectual Conciliation. I will first claim that it is notasound principle of intellectual ethics. For that, I will first show that if this Principle claimsto sceptically conclude to the plurality of religions, it is, in reality, a reasoning from a scepti-cal dogma, and not only a reasoning that leads to scepticism. I mean that it is a hidden athe-istic argument disguised as an honest neutral reasoning. As it calls for an ethical requirementof rationality, without being then so transparent that it seems, it is important to show thatthis Principle borders on deception. I am secondly going to show that, even if one accepts toallow oneself to be conciliated by reasoning, the Principle has serious flaws, especially withregard to the philosophical psychology of religious faith. My conclusion will be that it iswrong that we should suspend any religious belief that an alleged epistemic peer does notshare as soon as we become aware that he does not share it. It is not true that it is rationalinany case to respect the Principle of Intellectual Conciliation, and that another attitudewould always be irrational and morally disgusting

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