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Propositional knowledge and the enigma of realism

This article deals with the philosophical problem of how to conceive reality. The dif culty consists in nding a middle way between the claim that reality is unconceptualised reality and the claim that there is no difference between what is real and what we experience as real. In this regard, the pragmatic tradition in philosophy promises to provide us with some fruitful ideas for steering a path between the two. The author applies some of these ideas in developing a pragmatic realist philosophy of religion which is not reductionist and therefore acceptable for religious as well as non-religious philosophers of religion. First, he gives a very short summary of pragmatism as background to his proposal. Second, in contrast to the notion of realism in the pragmatic tradition he sketches the presuppositions of what is labelled religious or theological realism in present analytic philosophy of religion. Third, he distinguishes between ontological commitments that are metaphysical in character and ontological commitments that are not, drawing on Rudolf Carnap's idea of the difference between internal and external questions of existence. Fourth, he presents Hilary Putnam's criticism of a metaphysically realist conception of existence and fth, Putnam's defence of what he calls internal realism. Sixth, he puts forward a pragmatic idea of the difference between observational experiences and existential ones in our lives. Finally, he applies this pragmatic philosophy of religion to the question of whether it is reasonable to claim that belief in God presupposes God's existence.