Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Philosophy (MA)

Degree Level





Thomas Senor

Committee Member

Stephen Blake Hereth

Second Committee Member

Jacob Adler


liberation theology, philosophy of religion, pluralism, relativism, this-worldly salvation, universal thread, well-being


Pluralism presents a troubling epistemic problem in that the inability to determine whether or not significant portions of a given religion’s cosmological and metaphysical belief set actually correspond to reality. Within this standstill there seems to be no way to prove yet alone maximize the epistemic rationality of continued religious practice, as each religion will claim to have a unique source of knowledge the others do not. However, if we set aside these unverifiable disputes, there remains an often underemphasized common thread: religions each have a conception of how this world ought to be. These conceptions involve how members of a community ought to relate to each other so as to maximize well-being and minimize suffering. This focus on well-being is a universal aim of living creatures and as such is not the reduction of distinct religions to a shared essence but is instead a common underlying goal. Well-being will of course look different in different contexts, and as such this paper will develop a suitably relativizable yet robust sense of well-being to serve as a manner by which to evaluate religious practice. Thus, practical rationality at least with respect to this-worldly salvation can be maximized. But in order to avoid a relativism about the specific beliefs that get one to the ethical output, an internal coherency constraint will also be applied, secondarily to the ethical metric. This will help to maintain elements of religiosity and felt experience in the face of the changes that will be required by a shift in focus to this-worldly salvation. I will examine Christianity of a Catholic bent in order to look at some of the ways in which a religion’s self conception will have to change significantly with respect to their relation to salvation if it begins to understand itself as but one possible path towards it and if it begins to recognize that other prima facie contradictory religions can be learned from to better accomplish this shared goal.

keywords: this-worldy salvation, liberation theology, well-being, pluralism, relativism