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Module Reading List

Religion, Belief and Ethics, 2021/22, Semester 1
Dr. Mikel Burley
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue

Module Outline (including Required and Supplementary Reading)

The required reading must be done by all students. The supplementary reading is optional. Not all weeks have supplementary readings assigned to them. This module outline and list of further reading suggestions are also available in the Module Handbook. For the precise days and times of lectures and seminars, see your personal timetable. FOR SEMINAR QUESTIONS, PLEASE SEE THE MODULE HANDBOOK.

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WEEK ONE (week beginning 27th September 2021)

Required reading (We shall use the following article as the basis for discussion in the seminar)

Schilbrack, Kevin. 2010. Religions: Are There Any? Journal of the American Academy of Religion., Vol. 78, No. 4, pp. 1112–1138.

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WEEK TWO (week beginning 4th October 2021)

Required reading

Phillips, D. Z. 1965. Superstition and Petitionary Prayer. In his The concept of prayer.. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, pp. 112–130 Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva . 

Clack, Beverley. 2012. Being Human: Religion and Superstition in a Psychoanalytic Philosophy of Religion. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement. ISSN: 1358-2461; 1755-3555, Vol. 70, pp. 255–279.

Supplementary reading

Clack, Brian R. 1995. D. Z. Phillips, Wittgenstein and Religion. Religious studies, Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 111–120. [This is a review by Clack of Phillips’ book, Wittgenstein and religion. The most relevant part of the review for our purposes begins on p. 113.]

Mounce, H. O. 1973. Understanding a Primitive Society. Philosophy.ISSN: 0031-8191; 1469-817X, Vol. 48, No. 186, pp. 347–362. 

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WEEK THREE (week beginning 11th October 2021)

Required reading

Stevenson, Ian. 1977. The Explanatory Value of the Idea of Reincarnation. Journal of nervous and mental disease.ISSN: 0022-3018, Vol. 164, No. 5, pp. 305–326.

Cockburn, David. 1991. The Evidence for Reincarnation. Religious studies, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 199–207.

Supplementary reading

Burley, Mikel. 2016. Finding Meaning in Multiple Lives. In his Rebirth and the stream of life : a philosophical study of reincarnation, karma and ethicsISBN: 9781628922257 (hardcover); 1628922257 (hardcover); 9781628922264 (paperback); 1628922265 (paperback); 9781628922271 (electronic publication); 9781628922288 (electronic book). New York: Bloomsbury, pp. 61–79.

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WEEK FOUR (week beginning 18th October 2021)

Required reading

Kaufman, Whitley R. P. 2005. Karma, Rebirth, and the Problem of Evil. Philosophy east and west.ISSN: 0031-8221, Vol. 55, No. 1, pp. 15–32.

Chadha, Monima, and Nick Trakakis. 2007. Karma and the Problem of Evil: A Response to Kaufman. Philosophy east and west, Vol. 57, No. 4, pp. 533–556.

Supplementary reading

Burley, Mikel. 2016. Karma and Evil. In his Rebirth and the stream of life : a philosophical study of reincarnation, karma and ethics. New York: Bloomsbury, pp. 129–154.

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WEEK FIVE (week beginning 25th October 2021)

Required reading

Jantzen, Grace M. 1994. Do We Need Immortality? Modern Theology, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 33–44. [The same article by Grace Jantzen is also available in In Language, Metaphysics, and Death, ed. John Donnelly, 2nd edn. New York: Fordham University Press, pp. 265–277.]   Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva 

Supplementary reading

Lash, Nicholas. 1978. Eternal Life: Life ‘after’ Death? Heythrop Journal, Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 271–284.

Taliaferro, Charles. 1990. Why We Need Immortality. Modern Theology, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp. 367–377.

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WEEK SIX (week beginning 1st November 2021)

Required reading

Jantzen, Grace M. 1994. Feminists, Philosophers, and Mystics. Hypatia, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 186–206.

Supplementary reading

Raphael, Melissa. 1994. Feminism, Constructivism, and Numinous Experience. Religious Studies, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp. 511–526.

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WEEK SEVEN (week beginning 8th November 2021)

Required reading

Clack, Beverley. 2013. Feminism and the Problem of Evil. In The Blackwell Companion to the Problem of Evil, ed. Justin P. McBrayer and Daniel Howard-Snyder. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 326–339.

Supplementary reading

Trakakis, Nick. 2008. Theodicy: The Solution to the Problem of Evil, or Part of the Problem? Sophia, Vol. 47, No. 2, pp. 161–191.

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WEEK EIGHT (week beginning 15th November 2021)

Required reading

Green, Deidre Nicole. 2013. Works of Love in a World of Violence: Kierkegaard, Feminism, and the Limits of Self-Sacrifice. Hypatia, Vol. 28, No. 3, pp. 568–584.

Supplementary reading

Lippitt, John. 2009. True Self-Love and True Self-Sacrifice. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 66, No. 3, pp. 125–138.

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WEEK NINE (week beginning 22nd November 2021)

Required reading

Cook, John W. 1983. Magic, Witchcraft, and Science. Philosophical investigations.ISSN: 0190-0536, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 2–36.

Supplementary reading

Winch, Peter. 1964. Understanding a Primitive Society. American philosophical quarterly.ISSN: 0003-0481, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp. 307–324.

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WEEK TEN (week beginning 29th November 2021)

Required reading

Churchill, John. 1992. Something Deep and Sinister. Modern theology.ISSN: 0266-7177, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 15–37.

Supplementary reading

Bell, Richard H. 1978. Understanding the Fire-Festivals: Wittgenstein and Theories in Religion. Religious studies, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 113–124.

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WEEK ELEVEN (week beginning 6th December 2021)

No required reading 

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The concept of religion

Arnal, William E. 2000. Definition. In Guide to the Study of Religion, ed. Willi Braun and Russell T. McCutcheon. London: Continuum, pp. 21–34.

Dubuisson, Daniel. 2003. The Western Construction of Religion: Myths, Knowledge, and Ideology. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Fitzgerald, Timothy. 1997. A Critique of ‘Religion’ as a Cross-Cultural Category. Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 91–110.

Fitzgerald, Timothy. 2000. The Ideology of Religious Studies. New York: Oxford University Press, esp. Ch. 1.

Fitzgerald, Timothy. 2007. Introduction. In Religion and the Secular: Historical and Colonial Formations, ed. Timothy Fitzgerald. London: Equinox, pp. 1–24.

Fitzgerald, Timothy. 2013. A Response to Kevin Schilbrack. Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, Vol. 25, No. 1, pp. 101–106.

Harrison, Victoria S. 2006. The Pragmatics of Defining Religion in a Multi-cultural World. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 59, No. 3, pp. 133–152. [Harrison develops a Wittgenstein-inspired ‘family resemblance’ approach to the concept of religion.]

Masuzawa, Tomoko. 2005. The Invention of World Religions: Or, How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

McCutcheon, Russell T. 2015. The Category “Religion” in Recent Publications: Twenty Years Later. Numen, Vol. 62, No. 1, pp. 119–141.

Nongbri, Brent. 2013. Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Peterson, Derek, and Darren Walhof, eds. 2002. The Invention of Religion. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Schilbrack, Kevin. 2012. The Social Construction of “Religion” and Its Limits: A Critical Reading of Timothy Fitzgerald. Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 97–117.

Schilbrack, Kevin. 2017. A Realist Social Ontology of Religion. Religion, Vol. 47, No. 2, pp. 161–178.

Schilbrack, Kevin. 2018. What Does the Study of Religion Study? Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 111, No. 3, pp. 451–458.

Segal, Robert. 2005. Classification and Comparison in the Study of Religion: The Work of Jonathan Z. Smith. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 73, No. 4, pp. 1175–1188.

Smith, Jonathan Z. 1998. Religion, Religions, Religious. In Critical Terms for Religious Studies, ed. Mark C. Taylor. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, pp. 269–284.

Smith, Wilfred Cantwell. 1962. The Meaning and End of Religion: A New Approach to the Religious Traditions of Mankind. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress.

Stowers, Stanley. 2008. The Ontology of Religion. In Introducing Religion: Essays in Honor of Jonathan Z. Smith, ed. Willi Braun and Russell T. McCutcheon. London: Equinox [reprinted by Routledge in 2014], pp. 434–449.

Svenungsson, Jayne. 2020. The Return of Religion or the End of Religion? On the Need to Rethink Religion as a Category of Social and Political Life. Philosophy and Social Criticism, Vol. 46, No. 7, pp. 785–809.

Webb, Mark Owen. 2009. An Eliminativist Theory of Religion. Sophia, Vol. 48, No. 1, pp. 35–42.

Religious belief and superstition

Bloemendaal, P. F. 2006. Grammars of Faith: A Critical Evaluation of D. Z. Phillips’s Philosophy of Religion. Leuven: Peeters, pp. 393–415.

Burley, Mikel. 2015. Approaches to Philosophy of Religion: Contemplating the World or Trying to Find Our Way Home? Religious Studies, Vol. 51, No. 2, pp. 221–239. [The section headed ‘Phillips and superstition’ on pp. 228–229 is relevant to this topic.]

Clack, Brian R. 1999. An Introduction to Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of Religion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, p. 102. [Here Clack reiterates his concerns about Phillips’s attempt to distinguish religious belief from superstition.]

Clack, Brian R. 2004. Scapegoat Rituals in Wittgensteinian Perspective. In Thinking through Rituals: Philosophical Perspectives, ed. Kevin Schilbrack. New York: Routledge, pp. 97–112. [Clack is critical of the use that Rush Rhees and D. Z. Phillips make of some remarks by Wittgenstein on superstition.]

Hoyt, Christopher. 2012. Wittgenstein on the Language of Rituals: The Scapegoat Remark Reconsidered. Religious Studies, Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 165–182. [This will be useful if you want to discuss Wittgenstein’s scapegoat remark; otherwise, not.]

Kroesbergen, Hermen. 2015. ‘Superstition’ as a Contemplative Term: A Wittgensteinian Perspective. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 77, No. 2, pp. 105–122. [Kroesbergen defends D. Z. Phillips’ distinction between religious belief and superstition.]

Lerner, Berel Dov. 1994. Wittgenstein’s Scapegoat. Philosophical Investigations, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 604–612. [Again, this is useful if you want to discuss Wittgenstein’s scapegoat remark; otherwise, not.]

Lesser, Alexander. 1931. Superstition. Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 28, No. 23, pp. 617–628. [This article, by an anthropologist, was published back in 1931. Some of the terminology is dated (e.g. ‘primitive’ versus ‘civilized’ cultures), but the thesis, that superstitions are beliefs detached from their systems of reference, is interesting.]

Phillips, D. Z. 1970. Religious Beliefs and Language-Games. In his Faith and Philosophical Enquiry. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, pp. 77–110. This is also published in: Phillips, D. Z. 1993. Wittgenstein and Religion. Basingstoke: Macmillan, pp. 56–78. [Towards the end of this essay, Phillips affirms the importance of the distinction between religious beliefs and superstitions.]

Phillips, D. Z. 1986. Primitive Reactions and the Reactions of Primitives: The 1983 Marett Lecture. Religious Studies, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 165–180. [Phillips’s discussion of Mounce’s ‘pin-sticking’ thought-experiment on pp. 176–177 may be of interest.]

Phillips, D. Z. 1995. On Giving Practice Its Due: A Reply. Religious Studies, Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 121–127. [This is a reply to Brian Clack’s critical review of Phillips’s book Wittgenstein and Religion.]

Phillips, D. Z. 2000. Practices, Practice, and Superstition: A Response to Terrence W. Tilley. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 68, No. 2, pp. 357–362. [A response to Tilley’s ‘The Philosophy of Religion …’ (2000) article listed below.]

Pihlström, Sami. 2007. Religion and Pseudo-Religion: An Elusive Boundary. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 62, No. 1, pp. 3–32. [Pihlström argues that one must be able to place oneself in the position of a religious believer to understand the distinction between religious belief and ‘pseudo-religion’ (or superstition).]

Ray, R. J. 1990. Crossed Fingers and Praying Hands: Remarks on Religious Belief and Superstition. Religious Studies, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 471–482. [Ray defends D. Z. Phillips’s distinction between religious belief and superstition, illustrating the point by reference to a film called Shy People.]

Tilley, Terrence W. 2000. The Philosophy of Religion and the Concept of Religion: D. Z. Phillips on Religion and Superstition. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 68, No. 2, pp. 345–356. [This is the article to which Beverley Clack briefly makes reference in her ‘Being Human’ article.]

Tilley, Terrence W. 2000. “Superstition” as a Philosopher’s Gloss on Practice: A Rejoinder to D. Z. Phillips. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 68, No. 2, pp. 363–366. [A rejoinder to Phillips’s response to Tilley’s initial article listed above.]

Reincarnation and ethics (part 1)

Almeder, Robert. 1992. Reincarnation. In his Death and Personal Survival: The Evidence for Life after Death. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, Ch. 1. [This is a long chapter, in which Almeder seeks to defend the sorts of claims that Ian Stevenson has made concerning reincarnation. In fact, Almeder goes further than Stevenson, and argues that a rejection of reincarnation would be unreasonable.]

Almeder, Robert. 1997. A Critique of Arguments Offered against Reincarnation. Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp. 499–526. Available online at: [This is another long piece by Almeder, in this case a scathing review of Paul Edwards’s book Reincarnation: A Critical Examination. The quality and tone of the arguments, both from Edwards and from Almeder, leave much to be desired, but a large number of interesting points are raised nevertheless.]

Angel, Leonard. 1994. Empirical Evidence for Reincarnation? Examining Stevenson’s ‘Most Impressive’ Case. Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 18, No. 5, p. 481. [See also: Stevenson, Ian. 1995. Empirical Evidence for Reincarnation? A Response to Leonard Angel. Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 19, No. 3, p. 50; and see also the ‘Letters to the Editor’ from Paul Edwards and Antony Flew in Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 19 (1995), No. 2, p. 56.]

Barua, Ankur. 2017. The Reality and the Verifiability of Reincarnation. Religions, Vol. 8, No. 162, pp. 1–13.

Bering, Jesse. 2013. Ian Stevenson’s Case for the Afterlife: Are We ‘Skeptics’ Really Just Cynics? Scientific American, 2 November 2013. URL: [This is a blog entry and not a properly academic source. But it provides a good example of a sceptical psychologist who is willing to take Ian Stevenson’s research seriously.]

Caroll, Robert T. 2013. Ian Stevenson (1918–2007). The Skeptic’s Dictionary. URL: [This website is not up to the standard of peer-reviewed academic publications, but it does provide some useful information and references concerning Stevenson’s work, from a sceptical (but not entirely dismissive) perspective.]

Edwards, Paul. 1996. Reincarnation: A Critical Examination. Amherst, NY: Prometheus. [A thoroughly sceptical attack on the whole idea of reincarnation, from a materialist philosophical standpoint. If you type ‘Reincarnation: A Critical Examination’ into the Library catalogue search box, you should also find several reviews of Edwards’s book, which may be of interest.]

Geach, Peter. 1969. Reincarnation. In his God and the Soul. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, pp. 1–16. [Explicitly ignores Hindu and Buddhist sources. Uses thought experiments to argue that, since memory is an insufficient criterion of personal identity, it cannot support reincarnation claims.]

Herbert, Robert. 1968. Puzzle Cases and Earthquakes. Analysis, Vol. 28, No. 3, pp. 78–89. [David Cockburn mentions this article in a footnote. Its approach to reincarnation is similar to Cockburn’s in some respects. It requires patience and careful thought in order to get the point.]

Hick, John. 1976. Death and Eternal Life. London: Collins, chapters 16–19. [These chapters offer helpful overviews of a few different conceptions of reincarnation/rebirth.]

Martin, Raymond. 1997. Review of Paul Edwards, Reincarnation: A Critical Examination. Religious Studies, Vol. 33, No. 3, pp. 349–360. [Martin focuses mainly on Edwards’s dismissive claims concerning astral bodies, but also makes some pertinent general remarks about the style and approach of Edwards’s book.]

Osborne, Catherine. 2007. On the Transmigration of Souls: Reincarnation into Animal Bodies in Pythagoras, Empedocles, and Plato. In her Dumb Beasts and Dead Philosophers: Humanity and the Humane in Ancient Philosophy and Literature. Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 43–62. [This chapter provides a glimpse of some ancient Greek philosophers’ conceptions of rebirth.]

Perrett, Roy W. 1987. Rebirth. Religious Studies, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 41–57. [Perrett defends the conception of rebirth formulated by a Buddhist philosopher named Śāntarakṣita.]

Playfair, Guy Lyon. 2006. New Clothes for Old Souls: Worldwide Evidence for Reincarnation. London: Druze Heritage Foundation. [Treat this source with caution. It raises important issues but is not of a high academic standard.]

Purton, A. Campbell [no date]. Wittgenstein and Pictures of Rebirth. URL: [A short and accessible piece that applies Wittgensteinian ideas to the Buddhist notion of rebirth. It was originally published in 1992 in a book that is now out of print.]

Stevenson, Ian. 1970. Characteristic Cases of the Reincarnation Type in Turkey and Their Comparison with Cases in Two Other Cultures. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 1–17.

Stevenson, Ian. 1974. Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, 2nd edn. University Press of Virginia. [Useful if you want to know more about Stevenson’s research. If you are unable to access this book, there are many articles by Stevenson available in journals, several of which are listed above and below.]

Stevenson, Ian. 1975. The Belief and Cases Related to Reincarnation among the Haida. Journal of Anthropological Research, Vol. 31, No. 4, pp. 364–375.

Stevenson, Ian. 1985. The Belief in Reincarnation among the Igbo of Nigeria. Journal of Asian and African Studies, Vol. 20, Nos. 1–2, pp. 13–30.

Stevenson, Ian. 1986. Characteristics of Cases of the Reincarnation Type among the Igbo of Nigeria. Journal of Asian and African Studies, Vol. 21, Nos. 3–4, pp. 204–216. Available online here:

Stevenson, Ian. 1988. Three New Cases of the Reincarnation Type in Sri Lanka with Written Records Made before Verification. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Vol. 176, No. 12, p. 741.

Tucker, Jim B. 2010. Ian Stevenson and Cases of the Reincarnation Type. Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 22, No. 1, URL:

Reincarnation and ethics (part 2)

Bronkhorst, Johannes. 2011. Karma. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press. [This is a general and concise introduction to the concept of karma.]

Burley, Mikel. 2013. Retributive Karma and the Problem of Blaming the Victim. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 74, No. 2, pp. 149–165. [Parts of the argument in this article are also included in Burley’s book chapter ‘Karma and Evil’ (the supplementary reading for Week 4).]

Burley, Mikel. 2014. Karma, Morality, and Evil. Philosophy Compass, Vol. 9, No. 6, pp. 415–430. [Some of these ideas are elaborated in greater detail in the supplementary reading for this topic.]

Filice, Carlo. 2006. The Moral Case for Reincarnation. Religious Studies, Vol. 42, No. 1, pp. 45–61. [Defends what he calls ‘many-lives theism’.]

Kaufman, Whitley R. P. 2007. Karma, Rebirth, and the Problem of Evil: A Reply to Critics. Philosophy East and West, Vol. 57, No. 4, pp. 556–560. [Kaufman here replies to criticisms of his argument from Chadha and Trakakis.]

Obeyesekere, Gananath. 2002. Imagining Karma: Ethical Transformation in Amerindian, Buddhist, and Greek Rebirth. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. [There is far more in this book than is needed for the module, but if you want a good introduction to the wide range of conceptions of rebirth, the first two chapters are highly informative.]

Potter, Karl. 2001. How Many Karma Theories Are There? Journal of Indian Philosophy, Vol. 29, No. 1/2, pp. 231–239.

Sharma, Arvind. 2008. Karma, Rebirth, and the Problem of Evil: An Interjection in the Debate between Whitley Kaufman and Monima Chadha and Nick Trakakis. Philosophy East and West, Vol. 58, No. 4, pp. 572–575.

Willson, Martin. 1987. Rebirth and the Western Buddhist, 2nd edn. London: Wisdom Publications. [Willson provides a good overview of rebirth from a Buddhist perspective.]

Immortality and eternal life

Barr, James. 1992. The Garden of Eden and the Hope of Immortality: The Read-Tuckwell Lectures for 1990. London: SCM Press. [This may be useful if you wish to give close attention to biblical sources.]

Burley, Mikel. 2012. Contemplating Eternal Life. In his Contemplating Religious Forms of Life: Wittgenstein and D. Z. Phillips. New York: Continuum, Ch. 5. [This may be of interest if you are considering D. Z. Phillips’s account of immortality/eternal life.]

Burley, Mikel. 2016. Eternal Life as an Exclusively Present Possession: Perspectives from Theology and the Philosophy of Time. Sophia, Vol. 55, No. 2, pp. 145–161. [Burley argues that there is an intelligible conception of eternal life that does not require belief in an ‘afterlife’.]

Geach, Peter. 1969. Immortality. In his God and the Soul. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, pp. 17–29. [This is the account by Geach which D. Z. Phillips criticizes in Death and Immortality, Ch. 2.]

Haldane, John. 2007. Philosophy, Death and Immortality. Philosophical Investigations, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 245–265. [A critical discussion of D. Z. Phillips.]

Hebblethwaite, Brian. 1979a. Time and Eternity and Life ‘after’ Death. Heythrop Journal, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 57–62. [A critical response to Nicholas Lash.]

Hebblethwaite, Brian. 1979b. A Further Comment on Life ‘after’ Death. Heythrop Journal, Vol. 20, No. 2, pp. 187–188. [Continuing the debate with Lash.]

Hick, John. 1976. Death and Eternal Life. London: Collins, especially Part 3.

Hyman, John. 1996. Immortality without Metaphysics: A Reply to D. Z. Phillips. In Can Religion Be Explained Away?, ed. D. Z. Phillips. Basingstoke: Macmillan, pp. 252–263. [As the title of the chapter indicates, this is specifically a critical response to Phillips.]

Lash, Nicholas. 1979. Time and Eternity and Life ‘after’ Death: A Comment. Heythrop Journal, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 63–64. [A reply to Hebblethwaite’s criticisms.]

McGhee, Michael. 1996. The Locations of the Soul. Religious Studies, Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 205–221. [McGhee argues, against D. Z. Phillips, that we should not be too hasty to assume that the soul cannot really become separated from the body.]

Phillips, D. Z. 1970. Death and Immortality. London: Macmillan. [An interesting and controversial little book.]

Phillips, D. Z. 1995. Dislocating the Soul. Religious Studies, Vol. 31, No. 4, pp. 447–462. Reprinted in Can Religion Be Explained Away?, ed. D. Z. Phillips. Basingstoke: Macmillan, pp. 233–251. [Argues that philosophers of religion often discuss immortality and eternal life without giving due attention to how religious language is used.]

Stinson, Charles. 1977. On the Time–Eternity ‘Link’: Some Aspects of Recent Christian Eschatology. Religious Studies, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 49–62.

Suchocki, Marjorie. 1977. The Question of Immortality. Journal of Religion, Vol. 57, No. 3, pp. 288–306.

Tanner, Kathryn. 2005. Eschatology and Ethics. In The Oxford Handbook of Theological Ethics, ed. Gilbert Meilaender and William Werpehowski. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 41–56.

Gender and mysticism

[Some of the following publications offer feminist perspectives on the study of religion in general rather than specifically the study of mysticism. But they will nevertheless be relevant when considering the issue of a patriarchal ‘construction’ of mystical experience.]

Bauerschmidt, F. C. 1997. Review of Grace Jantzen, Power, Gender and Christian Mysticism. Modern Theology, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp. 399–401.

Christ, Carol P. 1991. Mircea Eliade and the Feminist Paradigm Shift. Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 75–94.

Engel, Mary Potter, et al. 2008. Roundtable Discussion: Mysticism and Feminist Spirituality. Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 143–187. [This ‘roundtable’ comprises an opening essay by Mary Potter Engel followed by responses from six feminist scholars of religion. The essay itself and the responses combine personal reflection with scholarly analysis. It is likely that only a few passages in some of these pieces will be directly relevant to the topic of your essay, but the roundtable as a whole provides an excellent overview of various perspectives on mysticism and feminist spirituality.]

Forman, Robert K. C., ed. 1990. The Problem of Pure Consciousness: Mysticism and Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [This edited volume comprises essays critical of constructivism about mystical experience in general rather than specifically feminist constructivist ideas. But the views expressed in this book could be adapted to raise objections to feminist perspectives.]

Gellman, Jerome I. 2005. Mysticism and Religious Experience. In The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion, ed. William J. Wainwright. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 138–167; see esp. 162–163.

Gellman, Jerome. 2014. Mysticism. In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edward N. Zalta., Section 9: ‘Mysticism, Religious Experience, and Gender’.

Gross, Rita M. 1977. Androcentrism and Androgyny in the Methodology of History of Religions. In Beyond Androcentrism: New Essays on Women and Religion, ed. Rita M. Gross. Missoula, MT: Scholars Press for the American Academy of Religion, pp. 7–19.

Jantzen, Grace M. 1995. Power, Gender and Christian Mysticism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Jantzen, Grace M. 1995. Review of Steven T. Katz, ed. Mysticism and Language. Religious Studies, Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 133–136. [Jantzen points out weaknesses in Katz’s book that result from a lack of attention to gender.]

Katz, Steven T., ed. 1978. Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis. London: Sheldon Press. [This is a classic volume of essays defending contextualism (a.k.a. constructivism) about mystical experiences. As with the Forman volume above, it does not deal specifically with gender issues, but it is a key point of reference in the broader debate.]

Lanzetta, Beverly J. 2005. Radical Wisdom: A Feminist Mystical Theology. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

Saiving, Valerie. 1976. Androcentrism in Religious Studies. Journal of Religion, Vol. 56, No. 2, pp. 177–197.

Taylor, Rachel. 1998. Review of Grace Jantzen, Power, Gender and Christian Mysticism. Feminist Theology, Vol. 6, No. 17, pp. 121–123.

Problems of evil and problems of theodicy

On feminist responses to the problem of evil

[For other relevant sources related to feminism, see the references list at the end of the required reading for this topic, i.e. Beverley Clack 2013.]

Clack, Beverley. 2007. Distortion, Dishonesty and the Problem of Evil. In Wrestling with God and Evil: Philosophical Reflections, ed. Hendrik M. Vroom. Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp. 197–215.

Clack, Beverley. 2018. Evil, Feminism, and a Philosophy of Transformation. In The Problem of Evil: Eight Views in Dialogue, ed. N. N. Trakakis. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 123–138. [This chapter is immediately followed by critical responses from three other philosophers of religion, plus a further reply from Clack, thereby providing an excellent demonstration of how the issues can be debated.]

Geddes, Jennifer L. 2003. Banal Evil and Useless Knowledge: Hannah Arendt and Charlotte Delbo on Evil after the Holocaust. Hypatia, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 104–115. [This article appears in a special issue of Hypatia on ‘Feminist Philosophy and the Problem of Evil’. Some of the other articles in that issue may also be of interest.]

Jantzen, Grace M. 1998. Becoming Divine: Towards a Feminist Philosophy of Religion. Manchester: Manchester University Press, esp. pp. 259–264.

Joy, Morny. 2010. Rethinking the ‘Problem of Evil’ with Hannah Arendt and Grace Jantzen. In New Topics in Feminist Philosophy of Religion, ed. Pamela Sue Anderson. London: Springer, pp. 17–32.  

Raphael, Melissa. 2004. The Price of (Masculine) Freedom and Becoming: A Jewish Feminist Response to Eliezer Berkovits’s Post-Holocaust Free-Will Defence of God’s Non-Intervention in Auschwitz. In Feminist Philosophy of Religion: Critical Readings, ed. Pamela Sue Anderson and Beverley Clack. London: Routledge, 136–150.  

On theodicies – and criticisms of theodicies – more generally

[There is a vast literature on the problem of evil and on criticisms of theodicy. Publications that are especially relevant to the theme of whether believers in God have good reason to avoid theodicy are preceded by an asterisk in the list below.]

Adams, Marilyn McCord. 2009. Marilyn McCord Adams on Evil. Interview on Philosophy Bites, 12 July 2009. URL: [If you decide to discuss Adams’s views, do not rely exclusively on this podcast; also refer to her book: Adams, Marilyn McCord. 1999. Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.]

Burley, Mikel. 2012. Contemplating Evil. Nordic Wittgenstein Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 35–54. Available online at:

*Davies, Brian. 2003. The Problem of Evil. In Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology, ed. Charles Taliaferro and Paul J. Griffiths. Malden, MA: Blackwell, pp. 375–389. [See esp. Davies’s contention that ‘God is good’ need not be construed as ‘God is morally good’ on pp. 375–378.]

Davis, Stephen T., ed. 2001. Encountering Evil: Live Options in Theodicy, 2nd edn. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

Forrest, Peter. 2010. Why Richard Swinburne Won’t ‘Rot in Hell’: A Defense of Tough-Minded Theodicy. Sophia, Vol. 49, No. 1, pp. 37–47. [This is a response to Trakakis 2008 (the supplementary reading for Week 7).]

*Gleeson, Andrew. 2012. A Frightening Love: Recasting the Problem of Evil. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. [An attack on the whole project of theodicy, and on a certain style of philosophizing more generally. If you read this, you could also look at: Burley, Mikel. 2013. Review of Andrew Gleeson, A Frightening Love. Philosophical Papers, Vol. 42, No. 1, pp. 127–131, available in the Online Course readings folder in the VLE.]

Hasker, William. 2007. D. Z. Phillips’ Problems with Evil and with God. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 61, No. 3, pp. 151–160. [Hasker criticizes D. Z. Phillips’s anti-theodicist views. See also the response to Hasker in Phillips 2007 below.]

Hasker, William. 2008. The Triumph of God over Evil: Theodicy for a World of Suffering. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, esp. Ch. 2. [If you read this, you should also read the criticisms of Hasker’s approach in Gleeson 2012, Ch. 2.]

*Hauerwas, Stanley. 1994. God, Medicine, and Suffering. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, esp. Ch. 2.

Klagge, James C. 2011. ‘Job’s Suffering’ and ‘Ivan and Suffering’. In his Wittgenstein in Exile. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 132–137.

*Phillips, D. Z. 1986. The Challenge of What We Know: The Problem of Evil. In his Belief, Change and Forms of Life. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, pp. 52–78. [Much of this essay was originally published as a response to Swinburne 1977.]

*Phillips, D. Z. 1993. On Not Understanding God. In his Wittgenstein and Religion. Basingstoke: Macmillan, pp. 153–170.

*Phillips, D. Z. 2004. The Problem of Evil and the Problem of God. London: SCM Press. [Phillips elaborates his objections to theodicy and his preference for an alternative way of responding to the ‘problem of evil’.]

*Phillips, D. Z. 2007. William Hasker’s Avoidance of the Problems of Evil and God (Or: On Looking outside the Igloo). International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 62, No. 1, pp. 33–42. [This is Phillips’s reply to Hasker’s critical 2007 article above.]

*Simpson, Robert. 2009. Some Moral Critique of Theodicy is Misplaced, But Not All.  Religious Studies, Vol. 45, No. 3, pp. 339–346.

*Simpson, Robert Mark. 2009. Moral Antitheodicy: Prospects and Problems. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 65, No. 3, pp. 153–169.

Søvik, Atle O. 2008. Why Almost All Moral Critique of Theodicies is Misplaced. Religious Studies, Vol. 44, No. 4, pp. 479–484.

Søvik, Atle Ottesen. 2011. More on Moral Critique of Theodicies: Reply to Robert Simpson. Religious Studies, Vol. 47, No. 3, pp. 383–388.

*Surin, Kenneth. 1983. Theodicy? Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 76, No. 2, pp. 225–247.

*Surin, Kenneth. 1986. Theology and the Problem of Evil. Oxford: Blackwell, esp. pp. 1–28, 78–86.

Swinburne, Richard. 1977. The Problem of Evil. In Reason and Religion, ed. Stuart C. Brown. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, pp. 81–102. [This essay was responded to by Phillips; see Phillips 1986 above.]

Swinton, John. 2007. Raging with Compassion: Pastoral Responses to the Problem of Evil. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

*Tilley, Terrence W. 1989. God and the Silencing of Job. Modern Theology, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 257–270.

*Tilley, Terrence W. 1991. The Evils of Theodicy. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

*Trakakis, N. N. 2010. Against Theodicy: A Response to Peter Forrest. Sophia, Vol. 49, No. 1, pp. 129–140. [Trakakis’s reply to Forrest 2010.]

*Trakakis, N. N. 2013. Antitheodicy. In The Blackwell Companion to the Problem of Evil, ed. Justin P. McBrayer and Daniel Howard-Snyder. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 363–376.

*Trakakis, N. N. 2017. Anti-Theodicy. In The Cambridge Companion to the Problem of Evil, ed. Chad Meister and Paul K. Moser. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 124–144.

*Williams, Rowan. 1996. Reply: Redeeming Sorrows. In Religion and Morality, ed. D. Z. Phillips. New York: St Martin’s Press, pp. 132–148. [A subtle and somewhat difficult essay, arguing that there are mistakes involved in conceiving of God as a moral agent who might be blamed for failing to be morally good enough.]

Wright, N. T. 2006. Evil and the Justice of God. London: SPCK.

Love and sacrifice

Andolsen, Barbara Hilkert. 1981. Agape in Feminist Ethics. Journal of Religious Ethics, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 69–83.

Coakley, Sarah. 2001. Kenosis: Theological Meanings and Gender Connotations. In The Work of Love: Creation as Kenosis, ed. John Polkinghorne. London: SPCK, pp. 192–210.

Coakley, Sarah. 2002. Kenōsis and Subversion: On the Repression of ‘Vulnerability’ in Christian Feminist Writing. In her Powers and Submissions: Spirituality, Philosophy and Gender. Malden, MA: Blackwell, pp. 3–39.

Daly, Mary. 1992. Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation, 3rd edn. London: Women’s Press.

Green, Deidre Nicole. 2016. Works of Love in a World of Violence: Feminism, Kierkegaard, and the Limits of Self-Sacrifice. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.  

Groenhout, Ruth. 2006. Kenosis and Feminist Theory. In Exploring Kenotic Christology, ed. C. Stephen Evans. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 291–312.

Kierkegaard, Søren. 1946 [1847]. Works of Love, trans. David F. Swenson and Lillian Marvin Swenson. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Lippitt, John. 2013. Kierkegaard and the Problem of Self-Love. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Outka, Gene. 1972. Agape: An Ethical Analysis. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Post, Stephen. 1988. Communion and True Self-Love. Journal of Religious Ethics, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 345–362.

Rudd, Anthony, and John Davenport, eds. 2015. Love, Reason, and Will: Kierkegaard after Frankfurt. New York: Bloomsbury, esp. Section 2 (‘Love and Self-Love’).

Weaver, Darlene Fozard. 2002. Self Love and Christian Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Weil, Simone. 1952. Gravity and Grace, trans. Emma Craufurd. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Williams, Delores S. 1993. Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, esp. pp. 159–164.

Understanding magic and ritual practices (parts 1 and 2)

Bouveresse, Jacques. 2008. Wittgenstein’s Critique of Frazer. In Wittgenstein and Reason, ed. John Preston. Malden, MA: Blackwell, pp. 1–20.

Burley, Mikel. 2012. Mounce and Winch on Understanding (or Not Understanding) an Indigenous Society. Philosophical Investigations, Vol. 35, Nos. 3–4, pp. 350–372.

Cioffi, Frank. 1981. Wittgenstein and the Fire Festivals. In Perspectives on the Philosophy of Wittgenstein, ed. Irving Block. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 212–237. Also published in Stuart Shanker, ed. 1986. Ludwig Wittgenstein: Critical Assessments, Vol. 4. Beckenham: Croom Helm, pp. 312–333.  

Cioffi, Frank. 1991. Wittgenstein on Freud and Frazer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Clack, Brian R. 1996. Wittgenstein and Expressive Theories of Religion. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 47–61. [Sections 3 and 4 are useful for casting doubt on the attribution to Wittgenstein of an ‘expressivist theory’ of religion.]

Clack, Brian R. 1999. An Introduction to Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of Religion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 58–65.

Clack, Brian R. 1999. Wittgenstein, Frazer and Religion. Basingstoke: Macmillan.

Johnston, Paul. 1989. Wittgenstein and Moral Philosophy. London: Routledge, pp. 26–51.

Kerr, Fergus. 1997. Theology after Wittgenstein, 2nd edn. London: SPCK, esp. pp. 156–162.

Lerner, Berel Dov. 1995. The Materialist Mentality Revisited. Human Studies, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 449–459. [Lerner is critical of Winch and of those who support his approach to cross-cultural understanding.]

Lukes, Steven. 2003. Different Cultures, Different Rationalities? In his Liberals and Cannibals: The Implications of Diversity. London: Verso, pp. 46–62.

Midgley, Mary. 1984. Wickedness: A Philosophical Essay. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. [Midgley explores the darker aspects of human nature. The book thus complements some of the reflections in John Churchill’s ‘Something Deep and Sinister’ article.]

Schilbrack, Kevin. 2009. Rationality, Relativism, and Religion: A Reinterpretation of Peter Winch. Sophia, Vol. 48, No. 4, pp. 399–412. [Schilbrack provides a quite sophisticated discussion of Winch.]

Sharrock, W. W., and R. J. Anderson. 1985. Magic, Witchcraft and the Materialist Mentality. Human Studies, Vol. 8, pp. 357–375.

Trigg, Roger. 1973. Conceptual Relativism. In his Reason and Commitment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1–26. [Trigg accuses Winch of an incoherent relativism.]

Winch, Peter. 1987. Language, Belief and Relativism. In his Trying to Make Sense. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 194–207. Also in H. D. Lewis, ed. 1976. Contemporary British Philosophy, Vol. 4. London: Allen and Unwin, pp. 322–338. [Winch responds to the criticism that his approach to understanding different cultural practices entails an unhelpful relativism.]

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1979. Remarks on Frazer’s ‘Golden Bough’, ed. Rush Rhees, trans. A. C. Miles, revised by Rush Rhees. Retford: Brynmill. Another translation is available in Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1993. Philosophical Occasions, 1912–1951, ed. James C. Klagge and Alfred Nordmann. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, pp. 115–155. [These remarks of Wittgenstein’s are only notes from his notebooks, but they have inspired a great deal of reflection on what it means to study ancient or indigenous religious practices, among philosophers, social anthropologists and other inquirers into religion.]

This list was last updated on 27/08/2021