The cultural transmission of theological concepts remains an underexplored topic in the cognitivescience of religion (CSR). In this paper, I examine whether approaches from CSR, especially the study of content biases in the transmission of beliefs, can help explain the cultural success of some theological concepts. This approach reveals that there is more continuity between theological beliefs and ordinary religious beliefs than CSR authors have hitherto recognized: the cultural transmission of theological concepts is influenced by content (...) biases that also underlie the reception of ordinary religious concepts. (shrink)
The last 15 years or so has seen the development of a fascinating new area of cognitivescience: the cognitivescience of religion (CSR). Scientists in this field aim to explain religious beliefs and various other religious human activities by appeal to basic cognitive structures that all humans possess. The CSR scientific theories raise an interesting philosophical question: do they somehow show that religious belief, more specifically belief in a god of some kind, is (...) irrational? In this paper I investigate this question and argue that CSR does not show that belief in god is irrational. (shrink)
Alvin Plantinga, echoing a worry of Charles Darwin which he calls 'Darwin's doubt', argues that given Darwinian evolutionary theory our beliefs are unreliable, since they are determined to be what they are by evolutionary pressures and could have had no other content. This papers surveys in turn deterministic and non-deterministic interpretations of Darwinism, and concludes that Plantinga's argument poses a problem for the former alone and not for the latter. Some parallel problems arise for the CognitiveScience of (...)Religion, and in particular for the hypothesis that many of our beliefs, including religious beliefs, are due to a Hypersensitive Agency-Detection Device, at least if this hypothesis is held in a deterministic form. In a non-deterministic form, however, its operation need not cast doubt on the rationality or reliability of the relevant beliefs. (shrink)
The cognitivescience of religion is a multi-disciplinary research program that attempts to integrate the study of religion with behavioural sciences such as cognitive sciences. Such integration raises several methodological questions that concern, for example, the nature of the relationship between psychology and social life, the autonomy of the study of religion and the role of causal explanations in social sciences. This article examines the methodological assumptions of the cognitivescience of (...) class='Hi'>religion and analyses possible drawbacks as well as advantages of a naturalistic study of religion. Finally, this article argues that we should allow different kinds of methodological frameworks in the study of religion. (shrink)
Reformed epistemology and cognitivescience have remarkably converged on belief in God. Reformed epistemology holds that belief in God is basic—that is, belief in God is a natural, non-inferential belief that is immediately produced by a cognitive faculty. Cognitivescience of religion also holds that belief in gods is (often) non-reflectively and instinctively produced—that is, non-inferentially and automatically produced by a cognitive faculty or system. But there are differences. In this paper, we will (...) show some remarkable points of convergence, and a few points of divergence, between Reformed epistemology and the cognitivescience of religion. (shrink)
Abstract. Although the CognitiveScience of Religion (CSR), a current approach to the scientific study of religion, has exerted an influence in the study of religion for almost twenty years, the question of its compatibility or incompatibility with theism has not been the subject of serious discussion until recently. Some critics of religion have taken a lively interest in the CSR because they see it as useful in explaining why religious believers consistently make costly (...) commitments to false beliefs. Conversely, some theists have argued for the compatibility of religious belief with basic CSR results. In this article, we contribute to the incipient discussion about the worldview relevance of the CSR by arguing that while a theistic reading of the field only represents one interpretative option at most, antitheistic claims about the incompatibility of the CSR with theism look like they may be harder to maintain than first appearances might suggest. (shrink)
The cognitivescience of religion seeks to find genuine causal explanations for the origin and transmission of religious ideas. In the cognitive approach to religion, so-called intuitive and counter-intuitive concepts figure importantly. In this article it is argued that cognitive scientists of religion should clarify their views about the explanatory and semantic role they give to counter-intuitive concepts and beliefs in their theory. Since the cognitivescience of religion is a (...) naturalistic research programme, it is doubtful that its proponents can remain neutral on important ontological questions. (shrink)
The article chronicles the different panels devoted tothe cognitivescience of religion at the meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR) in Tampa, Florida, in November 2007. The aim is to verify the state of this subdiscipline and to check how much this work-in-progress affects the present state of the dialogue between science and religion. Several signs point to a positive development in this scientific branch and favor a sound reception (...) in theology, which should not ignore the new research. (shrink)
This article examines the notions of “intuitive” and “counterintuitive” beliefs and concepts in cognitivescience of religion. “Intuitive” states are contrasted with those that are products of explicit, conscious reasoning. In many cases the intuitions are grounded in the implicit rules of mental models, frames, or schemas. I argue that the pathway from intuitive to high theological concepts and beliefs may be distinct from that from intuitions to “folk religion,” and discuss how Christian theology might best (...) interpret the results of studies in cognitive psychology of religion. (shrink)
Critics of religion have recently claimed that the natural explanation of religious-belief formation offered by the CognitiveScience of Religion (CSR) is incompatible with theism. Defenders of theism have in turn responded to these claims by arguing for the compatibility of the CSR account with theism. In this paper we propose a modified defence of the compatibility of the CSR account with theism which supplements extant theistic arguments by drawing out the implications of certain points about (...) the nature of CSR explanation which have so far been left relatively unexploited. In developing this defence, we argue that extant atheistic and theistic readings of the CSR can be understood as accepting certain presuppositions, especially about the relative centrality of the CSR account in explaining religious belief, which, we argue, would be detrimental to the theist case were they actually intended, and which should be clearly rejected. We suggest that the theist should argue explicitly from the nature of CSR explanation to its compatibility with theism. (shrink)
There is much good work for philosophers to do in cognitivescience if they adopt the constructive attitude that prevails in science, work toward testable hypotheses, and take on the task of clarifying the relationship between the scientiﬁc concepts and the everyday concepts with which we conduct our moral lives.
Cognitive activity, which essentially consistsof the use of signs, does not only depend onthe internal (mental, or brain) processes. Thefirst part of the paper presents severalversions of the idea of the external andcultural organization of individual''s mentalprocesses. The second part of the paperconsiders a future development of cognitivescience as a science of the extended andsocially constructed mind. KazimierzTwardowski''s theory of intentionality and histheory of actions and products provide theconceptual framework of the undertaken analysis.
In this article, I examine the compatibility thesis, according to which the assumptions and results of cognitive (and other bio-psychological) theories of religion are compatible with the theistic world-view. In particular, I analyse the conception of world-view neutrality concerning scientific theories of religion. I also investigate the nature of pro-theistic argumentation; one aspect of this is the role that various forms of naturalism have in theistic compatibility claims. I point out that the version of theism guiding the (...) argumentation of the proponents of the compatibility thesis is seldom explicated. A commitment to classical theism is problematic because of the ultimate metaphysical separation of God and the world. Instead, I support the compatibility view with a notion of God construed as the structuring cause of the world. (shrink)
The philosophy of cognitivescience is concerned with fundamental philosophical and theoretical questions connected to the sciences of the mind. How does the brain give rise to conscious experience? Does speaking a language change how we think? Is a genuinely intelligent computer possible? What features of the mind are innate? Advances in cognitivescience have given philosophers important tools for addressing these sorts of questions; and cognitive scientists have, in turn, found themselves drawing upon insights (...) from philosophy--insights that have often taken their research in novel directions. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of CognitiveScience brings together twenty-one newly commissioned chapters by leading researchers in this rich and fast-growing area of philosophy. It is an indispensible resource for anyone who seeks to understand the implications of cognitivescience for philosophy, and the role of philosophy within cognitivescience. (shrink)
While the extended cognition (EC) thesis has gained more followers in cognitivescience and in the philosophy of mind and knowledge, our main goal is to discuss a different area of significance of the EC thesis: its relation to philosophy of science. In this introduction, we outline two major areas: (I) The role of the thesis for issues in the philosophy of cognitivescience, such as: How do notions of EC figure in theories or research (...) programs in cognitivescience? Which versions of the EC thesis appear, and with which arguments to support them? (II) The potentials and limits of the EC thesis for topics in general philosophy of science, such as: Can naturalism perhaps be further advanced by means of the more recent EC thesis? Can we understand “big science” or laboratory research better by invoking some version of EC? And can the EC thesis help in overcoming the notorious cognitive/social divide in science studies? (shrink)
This paper places “Islam and bioethics” within the framework of “religion and science” discourse. It thus may be seen as a complement to the paper by Henk ten Have () with which this thematic section in Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science opens, which places “Islam and bioethics” in the context of contemporary bioethics. It turns out that in Zygon there have been more submitted articles on Islam and bioethics than on any other Islam-related topic. This (...) may be a consequence of the global nature of the bioethical issues, driven by advancement in science and technology, which allows for conversation across cultural and religious boundaries even when the normative references and argumentative methods are tradition-specific. (shrink)
The very influential theoretical concepts proposed by Rudolf Otto in his 1917 classic The Idea of the Holy are often seen as examples of properly religious content that cannot be approached by any other means except religious. This conclusion is challenged by closer readings of Otto’s writings on naturalism and religion where he, despite of being at times critical of some versions of naturalism, expresses his thorough commitment to naturalist ic explanations. Otto’s views are presented as compatible with recent (...)cognitive-scientific theories of religion and as a constructive contribution to the scientific study of religion. Otto’s theological position, because it is based on his naturalism, is a possible methodological framework for further studies in religion and science in general and cognitivescience of religion in particular. (shrink)
In this article we respond to Leo Nreaho construes what he takes to be our commitment to a thesis regarding the of the new bio-psychological theories of religion (in the case at hand, CSR). We suggest that Näreaho has misconstrued us on what the neutrality thesis actually is and what follows from it. We conclude that his own proposal for compatibility is not an alternative to ours but rather one permissible metaphysical reading of CSR among others.
In light of the advancements in cognitivescience and the evolutionary psychology of religion in the past two decades, scientists and philosophers have begun to reflect on the theological and atheological implications of naturalistic—and in particular, evolutionary—explanations of religious belief and behaviour. However, philosophical naiveté is often evinced by scientists and scientific naiveté by philosophers. The aim of this article is to draw from these recent contributions, point out some common pitfalls and important insights, and suggest a (...) way forward. This proposal avoids the genetic fallacy as well as misunderstandings of the cognitive mechanisms that give rise to religious belief. In the end, it may well be that the cognitivescience of religion is atheologically and theologically ambiguous; traditional philosophers of religion on both sides of the debate still have work to do. (shrink)
Specifically designed to make the philosophy of mind intelligible to those not trained in philosophy, this book provides a concise overview for students and researchers in the cognitive sciences. Emphasizing the relevance of philosophical work to investigations in other cognitive sciences, this unique text examines such issues as the meaning of language, the mind-body problem, the functionalist theories of cognition, and intentionality. As he explores the philosophical issues, Bechtel draws connections between philosophical views and theoretical and experimental work (...) in such disciplines as cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics, neuroscience, and anthropology. (shrink)
Recent research on the evolution of religion has focused on whether religion is an unselected by-product of evolutionary processes or if it is instead an adaptation by natural selection. Adaptive hypotheses for religion include direct fitness benefits from improved health and indirect fitness benefits mediated by costly signals and/or cultural group selection. Herein, I propose that religious denominations achieve indirect fitness gains for members through the use of ecologically arbitrary beliefs, rituals, and moral rules that function as (...) recognition markers of cultural inheritance analogous to kin and species recognition of genetic inheritance in biology. This recognition signal hypotheses could act in concert with either costly signaling or cultural group selection to produce evolutionarily altruistic behaviors within denominations. Using a cultural phylogenetic analysis, I show that a large set of religious behaviors among extant Christian denominations supports the prediction of the recognition signal hypothesis that characters change more frequently near historical schisms. By incorporating demographic data into the model, I show that more-distinctive denominations, as measured through dissimilar characteristics, appear to be protected from intrusion by nonmembers in mixed-denomination households, and that they may be experiencing greater biological growth of their populations even in the present day. (shrink)
Anthropology and the other cognitivescience (CS) subdisciplines currently maintain a troubled relationship. With a debate in topiCS we aim at exploring the prospects for improving this relationship, and our introduction is intended as a catalyst for this debate. In order to encourage a frank sharing of perspectives, our comments will be deliberately provocative. Several challenges for a successful rapprochement are identified, encompassing the diverging paths that CS and anthropology have taken in the past, the degree of compatibility (...) between (1) CS and (2) anthropology with regard to methodology and (3) research strategies, (4) the importance of anthropology for CS, and (5) the need for disciplinary diversity. Given this set of challenges, a reconciliation seems unlikely to follow on the heels of good intentions alone. (shrink)
Under the Superstition Mountains in central Arizona toil those who would rob humankind of its humanity. These gray, soulless monsters methodically tear away at our meaning, our subjectivity, our essence as transcendent beings. With each advance, they steal our freedom and dignity. Who are these denizens of darkness, these usurpers of all that is good and holy? None other than humanity’s arch-foe: The Cognitive Scientists -- AI researchers, fallen philosophers, psychologists, and other benighted lovers of computers. Unless they are (...) stopped, humanity -- you and I -- will soon be nothing but numbers and algorithms locked away on magnetic tape. (shrink)
This paper reviews 30 years of progress in U.S. cognitivescience research related to education and training, as seen from the perspective of a research manager who was personally involved in many of these developments.
Within the CognitiveScience of Religion, Justin Barrett has proposed that humans possess a hyperactive agency detection device that was selected for in our evolutionary past because ‘over detecting’ (as opposed to ‘under detecting’) the existence of a predator conferred a survival advantage. Within the Intelligent Design debate, William Dembski has proposed the law of small probability, which states that specified events of small probability do not occur by chance. Within the Fine-Tuning debate, John Leslie has asserted (...) a tidiness principle such that, if we can think of a good explanation for some state of affairs, then an explanation is needed for that state of affairs. In this paper I examine similarities between these three proposals and suggest that they can all be explained with reference to the existence of an explanation attribution module in the human mind. The forgoing analysis is considered with reference to a contrast between classical rationality and what Gerd Gigerenzer and others have called ecological rationality. (shrink)
Recent work in cognitivescience of religion (CSR) is beginning to converge on a very interesting thesis—that, given the ordinary features of human minds operating in typical human environments, we are naturally disposed to believe in the existence of gods, among other religious ideas (e.g., seeAtran , Barrett [2004; 2012], Bering , Boyer , Guthrie , McCauley , Pyysiäinen [2004; 2009]). In this paper, we explore whether such a discovery ultimately helps or hurts the atheist position—whether, for (...) example, it lends credence to atheism by explaining away religious belief or whether it actually strengthens some already powerful arguments against atheism in the relevant philosophical literature.We argue that the recent discoveries of CSR hurt, not help, the atheist position—that CSR, if anything, should not give atheists epistemic assurance. (shrink)
Neuroethology is a branch of biology that studies the neural basis of naturally occurring animal behavior. This science, particularly a recent program called computational neuroethology, has a similar structure to the interdisciplinary endeavor of cognitivescience. I argue that it would be fruitful to conceive of cognitivescience as the computational neuroethology of humans. However, there are important differences between the two sciences, including the fact that neuroethology is much more comparative in its perspective. Neuroethology (...) is a biological science and as such, evolution is a central notion. Its target organisms are studied in the context of their evolutionary history. The central goal of this paper is to argue that cognitivescience can and ought to be more comparative in its approach to cognitive phenomena in humans. I show how the domain of cognitive phenomena can be divided up into four different classes, individuated by the relative phylogenetic uniqueness of the behavior. I then describe how comparative evidence can enrich our understanding in each of these different arenas. (shrink)
In the past decade, the cognitivescience of religion has worked to find an evolutionary explanation for supernatural belief. The explanations are convincing, but have created the stereotype that atheism is unnatural. In a similar way studies linking religious belief and health have vilified atheism as unhealthy. But belief is too complex, health is too nuanced, and the data are too varied to draw such a generalization. Catherine Caldwell-Harris has developed a psychological profile to understand nonbelief as (...) an expected outcome of individual difference and therefore natural. In a similar manner I argue that we should study the relationship between belief and health through the lens of individual differences. This approach is especially promising given recent research which indicates personality fully accounts for the relationship with well-being previously attributed to belief. This approach has the added benefit of neutralizing the conversation by understanding atheism as the healthy expression of a natural personality. (shrink)
Cognitivescience has always included multiple methodologies and theoretical commitments. The philosophy of cognitivescience should embrace, or at least acknowledge, this diversity. Bechtel’s (2009a) proposed philosophy of cognitivescience, however, applies only to representationalist and mechanist cognitivescience, ignoring the substantial minority of dynamically oriented cognitive scientists. As an example of nonrepresentational, dynamical cognitivescience, we describe strong anticipation as a model for circadian systems (Stepp & Turvey, 2009). (...) We then propose a philosophy of science appropriate to nonrepresentational, dynamical cognitivescience. (shrink)
Cognitivescience has always included multiple methodologies and theoretical commitments. The philosophy of cognitivescience should embrace, or at least acknowledge, this diversity. Bechtel's (2009a) proposed philosophy of cognitivescience, however, applies only to representationalist and mechanist cognitivescience, ignoring the substantial minority of dynamically-oriented cognitive scientists. As an example of non-representational, dynamical cognitivescience, we describe strong anticipation as a model for circadian systems (Stepp and Turvey 2009). We (...) then propose a philosophy of science appropriate to non-representational, dynamical cognitivescience. (shrink)
This article tries to create a bridge of understanding between cognitive scientists and phenomenologists who work on attention. In light of a phenomenology of attention and current psychological and neuropsychological literature on attention, I translate and interpret into phenomenological terms 20 key cognitivescience concepts as examined in the laboratory and used in leading journals. As a preface to the lexicon, I outline a phenomenology of attention, especially as a dynamic three-part structure, which I have freely amended (...) from the work of phenomenologist and Gestalt philosopher Aron Gurwitsch (1901â1973). As a conclusion, I discuss the nature of subjectivity in attention and attention research, and whether attention might be the same as consciousness. (shrink)
In Book I, Part I, Section VII of the Treatise, Hume sets out to settle, once and for all, the early modern controversy over abstract ideas. In order to do so, he tries to accomplish two tasks: (1) he attempts to defend an exemplar-based theory of general language and thought, and (2) he sets out to refute the rival abstraction-based account. This paper examines the successes and failures of these two projects. I argue that Hume manages to articulate a plausible (...) theory of general ideas; indeed, a version of his account has defenders in contemporary cognitivescience. But Hume fails to refute the abstraction-based account, and as a result, the early modern controversy ends in a stalemate, with both sides able to explain how we manage to speak and think in general terms. Although Hume fails to settle the controversy, he nevertheless advances it to a point from which we have yet to progress: the contemporary debate over abstract ideas in cognitivescience has stalled on precisely this point. (shrink)
This chapter examines the core explanatory strategies of cognitivescience and their application to the study of psychopathology. In addition to providing a taxonomy of different strategies, we illustrate their application, with special attention to Autism Spectrum Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder. We conclude by considering two challenges to the prospects of a developed cognitivescience of psychopathology.
Current evolutionary and cognitive theories of religion posit that supernatural agent concepts emerge from cognitive systems such as theory of mind and social cognition. Some argue that these concepts evolved to maintain social order by minimizing antisocial behavior. If these theories are correct, then people should process information about supernatural agents’ socially strategic knowledge more quickly than non-strategic knowledge. Furthermore, agents’ knowledge of immoral and uncooperative social behaviors should be especially accessible to people. To examine these hypotheses, (...) we measured response-times to questions about the knowledge attributed to four different agents—God, Santa Claus, a fictional surveillance government, and omniscient but non-interfering aliens—that vary in their omniscience, moral concern, ability to punish, and how supernatural they are. As anticipated, participants respond more quickly to questions about agents’ socially strategic knowledge than non-strategic knowledge, but only when agents are able to punish. (shrink)
Philosophy of science is positioned to make distinctive contributions to cognitivescience by providing perspective on its conceptual foundations and by advancing normative recommendations. The philosophy of science I embrace is naturalistic in that it is grounded in the study of actual science. Focusing on explanation, I describe the recent development of a mechanistic philosophy of science from which I draw three normative consequences for cognitivescience. First, insofar as cognitive mechanisms (...) are information-processing mechanisms, cognitivescience needs an account of how the representations invoked in cognitive mechanisms carry information about contents, and I suggest that control theory offers the needed perspective on the relation of representations to contents. Second, I argue that cognitivescience requires, but is still in search of, a catalog of cognitive operations that researchers can draw upon in explaining cognitive mechanisms. Last, I provide a new perspective on the relation of cognitivescience to brain sciences, one which embraces both reductive research on neural components that figure in cognitive mechanisms and a concern with recomposing higher-level mechanisms from their components and situating them in their environments. (shrink)
Cognitivescience is an interdisciplinary research endeavor focusing on human cognitive phenomena such as memory, language use, and reasoning. It emerged in the second half of the 20th century and is charting new directions at the beginning of the 21st century. This chapter begins by identifying the disciplines that contribute to cognitivescience and reviewing the history of the interdisciplinary engagements that characterize it. The second section examines the role that mechanistic explanation plays in (...) class='Hi'>cognitivescience, while the third focuses on the importance of mental representations in specifically cognitive explanations. The fourth section considers the interdisciplinary nature of cognitivescience and explores how multiple disciplines can contribute to explanations that exceed what any single discipline might accomplish. The conclusion sketches some recent developments in cognitivescience and their implications for philosophers. (shrink)
This is a revised version of the introductory essay in C. Eschenbach, C. Habel and B. Smith (eds.), Topological Foundations of CognitiveScience, Hamburg: Graduiertenkolleg Kognitionswissenschaft, 1994, the text of a talk delivered at the First International Summer Institute in CognitiveScience in Buffalo in July 1994.
underpinning of the cognitive sciences. I argue, however, that it often fails to provide adequate explanations, in particular in conjunction with competence theories. This failure originates in the idealizations in competence descriptions, which either ?block? the cascade, or produce a successful cascade which fails to explain cognition.
The notion of levels has been widely used in discussions of cognitivescience, especially in discussions of the relation of connectionism to symbolic modeling of cognition. I argue that many of the notions of levels employed are problematic for this purpose, and develop an alternative notion grounded in the framework of mechanistic explanation. By considering the source of the analogies underlying both symbolic modeling and connectionist modeling, I argue that neither is likely to provide an adequate analysis of (...) processes at the level at which cognitive theories attempt to function: One is drawn from too low a level, the other from too high a level. If there is a distinctly cognitive level, then we still need to determine what are the basic organizational principles at that level. (shrink)
The concept of emergence is widely used in both the philosophy of mind and in cognitivescience. In the philosophy of mind it serves to refer to seemingly irreducible phenomena, in cognitivescience it is often used to refer to phenomena not explicitly programmed. There is no unique concept of emergence available that serves both purposes.
This article critically examines the views that psychology ?rst came into existence as a discipline ca. 1879, that philosophy and psychology were estranged in the ensuing decades, that psychology ?nally became scienti?c through the in?uence of logical empiricism, and that it should now disappear in favor of cognitivescience and neuroscience. It argues that psychology had a natural philosophical phase (from antiquity) that waxed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, that this psychology transformed into experimental psychology ca. 1900, (...) that philosophers and psychologists collaboratively discussed the subject matter and methods of psychology in the ?rst two decades of the twentieth century, that the neobehaviorists were not substantively in?uenced by the Vienna Circle, that the study of perception and cognition in psy- chology did not disappear in the behaviorist period and so did not reemerge as a result of arti?cial intelligence, linguistics, and the computer analogy, that although some psychologists adopted the language-of-thought approach of traditional cognitivescience, many did not, and that psychology will not go away because it contributes independently of cognitivescience and neuroscience. (shrink)
Psychology is the study of thinking, and cognitivescience is the interdisciplinary investigation of mind and intelligence that also includes philosophy, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, linguistics, and anthropology. In these investigations, many philosophical issues arise concerning methods and central concepts. The Handbook of Philosophy of Psychology and CognitiveScience contains 16 essays by leading philosophers of science that illuminate the nature of the theories and explanations used in the investigation of minds. Topics discussed include representation, mechanisms, (...) reduction, perception, consciousness, language, emotions, neuroscience, and evolutionary psychology. Key Features - Comprehensive coverage of philosophy of psychology and cognitivescience - Distinguished contributors: leading philosophers in this area - Contributions closely tied to relevant scientific research. (shrink)