Research Questions

We funded projects that explored the following Research Questions.
  1. What kinds of theistic arguments count as practical? Which religious doctrines are most amenable to a practical (pragmatic, moral) defense? What are the best practical arguments against religious belief?
  2. How do hope and optimism figure into practical arguments? Are they best seen as the outcomes of practical arguments, or can they also play a role in generating or making plausible some of the premises?
  3. If it were to turn out that it is irrational to believe that God exists, but rational to hope that God exists, would this have any bearing on religious practice? What practical effects, in the lives of religious and non-religious persons alike, should such a result have?
  4. Are there coherent and distinctive notions of religious hope or religious optimism? If so, how do they relate to practical arguments for and against religious belief or practice?
  5. Rational belief, and to a lesser extent knowledge, seem to be governed by certain practical principles. For example, some philosophers think that it is morally as well as epistemically wrong to hold a substantive religious doctrine on the basis of obviously inadequate evidence. Are religious hope and optimism likewise governed by practical principles? Can it be morally wrong to hope that some religious doctrine is true when such hope is unsupported by adequate evidence? If so, what sorts of evidence would be adequate?
  6. Hope (and to a lesser extent optimism) is widely regarded as a virtue. Traditional Christian theology classifies hope as one of the three theological virtues, alongside faith and love. Is hope a virtue? If it is, is it an epistemic virtue in addition to a moral one? How does hope’s putative status as a virtue bear on its role in practical arguments for religious theses?