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The study of religion: Neutral, scientific, or neither?

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The aim of this article is to argue that the study of religion can be neutral and scientific, in appropriate senses of these terms. In order for the study of religion to be seen to achieve these ends, however, we need to set aside certain false ways of delimiting its aims and methods. In particular, I argue that it is false to suppose that we are faced with a straight choice between naturalistic and confessional paradigms for the conduct of the subject. We can reject this dichotomy and thereby gain the appropriate understanding of what "neutrality" and "scientific" mean in this context, if we focus on the alternative idea that religious studies has as its chief goal the delineation of an aspect of human meaning.

Affiliations: 1: King's College, London

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