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  1. Why a Deep Understanding of Cultural Evolution is Incompatible with Shallow Psychology.Dan Sperber - unknown
    Human, cognition, interaction, and culture are thoroughly intertwined. Without cognition and interaction, there would be no culture. Without culture, cognition and interaction would be very different affairs, as they are among other social species. The effect of culture on mental life has always been a main concern of the social sciences and, after a long period of almost total neglect, it is more and more taken into consideration in cognitive psychology. The effect of cognition, and in particular of the ability (...)
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  • The Evolution of Religion: How Cognitive By-Products, Adaptive Learning Heuristics, Ritual Displays, and Group Competition Generate Deep Commitments to Prosocial Religions.Scott Atran & Joseph Henrich - 2010 - Biological Theory 5 (1):18-30.
    Understanding religion requires explaining why supernatural beliefs, devotions, and rituals are both universal and variable across cultures, and why religion is so often associated with both large-scale cooperation and enduring group conflict. Emerging lines of research suggest that these oppositions result from the convergence of three processes. First, the interaction of certain reliably developing cognitive processes, such as our ability to infer the presence of intentional agents, favors—as an evolutionary by-product—the spread of certain kinds of counterintuitive concepts. Second, participation in (...)
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  • Ritual, Emotion, and Sacred Symbols.Candace S. Alcorta & Richard Sosis - 2005 - Human Nature 16 (4):323-359.
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  • Language Co-Evolved with the Rule of Law.Chris Knight - 2007 - Mind and Society 7 (1):109-128.
    Many scholars assume a connection between the evolution of language and that of distinctively human group-level morality. Unfortunately, such thinkers frequently downplay a central implication of modern Darwinian theory, which precludes the possibility of innate psychological mechanisms evolving to benefit the group at the expense of the individual. Group level moral regulation is indeed central to public life in all known human communities. The production of speech acts would be impossible without this. The challenge, therefore, is to explain on a (...)
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  • Intelligence and Homosexuality.Satoshi Kanazawa - 2012 - Journal of Biosocial Science 44 (5):595-623.
  • Adaptationism for Human Cognition: Strong, Spurious, or Weak?Scott Atran - 2005 - Mind and Language 20 (1):39-67.
    Strong adaptationists explore complex organic design as taskspecific adaptations to ancestral environments. This strategy seems best when there is evidence of homology. Weak adaptationists don't assume that complex organic (including cognitive and linguistic) functioning necessarily or primarily represents taskspecific adaptation. This approach to cognition resembles physicists' attempts to deductively explain the most facts with fewest hypotheses. For certain domainspecific competencies (folkbiology) strong adaptationism is useful but not necessary to research. With grouplevel belief systems (religion) strong adaptationism degenerates into spurious notions (...)
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  • The Trouble with Memes: Inference Versus Imitation in Cultural Creation.Scott Atran - 2001 - Human Nature 12 (4):351-381.
    Memes are hypothetical cultural units passed on by imitation; although nonbiological, they undergo Darwinian selection like genes. Cognitive study of multimodular human minds undermines memetics: unlike in genetic replication, high-fidelity transmission of cultural information is the exception, not the rule. Constant, rapid 'mutation' of information during communication generates endlessly varied creations that nevertheless adhere to modular input conditions. The sort of cultural information most susceptible to modular processing is that most readily acquired by children, most easily transmitted across individuals, most (...)
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  • False Beliefs and Naive Beliefs: They Can Be Good for You.Roberto Casati & Marco Bertamini - 2009 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32 (6):512-513.
    Naive physics beliefs can be systematically mistaken. They provide a useful test-bed because they are common, and also because their existence must rely on some adaptive advantage, within a given context. In the second part of the commentary we also ask questions about when a whole family of misbeliefs should be considered together as a single phenomenon.
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  • Epistemic Trespassing.Nathan Ballantyne - 2019 - Mind 128 (510):367-395.
    Epistemic trespassers judge matters outside their field of expertise. Trespassing is ubiquitous in this age of interdisciplinary research and recognizing this will require us to be more intellectually modest.
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  • Prayer as Inner Sense Cultivation: An Attentional Learning Theory of Spiritual Experience.T. M. Luhrmann & Rachel Morgain - 2012 - Ethos: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology 40 (4):359-389.
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  • Projectivism Psychologized: The Philosophy and Psychology of Disgust.Daniel R. Kelly - unknown
    This dissertation explores issues in the philosophy of psychology and metaphysics through the lens of the emotion of disgust, and its corresponding property, disgustingness. The first chapter organizes an extremely large body of data about disgust, imposes two constraints any theory must meet, and offers a cognitive model of the mechanisms underlying the emotion. The second chapter explores the evolution of disgust, and argues for the Entanglement thesis: this uniquely human emotion was formed when two formerly distinct mechanisms, one dedicated (...)
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  • Explaining Culture. A Constraint-Based Approach.Acosta Calvo Josu - 2017 - Dissertation, Universidad Del Pais Vasco
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  • ‘Is Our Brain Hardwired to Produce God, Or is Our BrainHardwired to Perceive God.Alexander A. Fingelkurts & Andrew A. Fingelkurts - 2009 - Cognitive Processing 10 (4):293-326.
    To figure out whether the main empirical question “Is our brain hardwired to believe in and produce God, or is our brain hardwired to perceive and experience God?” is answered, this paper presents systematic critical review of the positions, arguments and controversies of each side of the neuroscientific-theological debate and puts forward an integral view where the human is seen as a psycho-somatic entity consisting of the multiple levels and dimensions of human existence (physical, biological, psychological, and spiritual reality), allowing (...)
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  • The Faith Frame: Or, Belief is Easy, Faith is Hard.T. M. Luhrmann - 2018 - Contemporary Pragmatism 15 (3):302-318.
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  • The Emotional Coherence of Religion.Paul Thagard - 2005 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 5 (1-2):58-74.
    This paper uses a psychological/computational theory of emotional coherence to explain several aspects of religious belief and practice. After reviewing evidence for the importance of emotion to religious thought and cognition in general, it describes psychological and social mechanisms of emotional cognition. These mechanisms are relevant to explaining the acquisition and maintenance of religious belief, and also shed light on such practices as prayer and other rituals. These psychological explanations are contrasted with ones based on biological evolution.
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  • The Shaping of New Testament Narrative and Salvation Teachings by Painful Childhood Experience.Benjamin J. Abelow - 2011 - Archive for the Psychology of Religion 33 (1):1-54.
    This article considers the influence of childhood corporal punishment, abandonment, and neglect on the development and reception of seminal New Testament teachings. Two related but distinct propositions are argued. First, that widespread patterns of painful childhood experience provided a thematic template that deeply shaped the New Testament during its formative period. Second, that this thematic shaping has contributed, on an individual level, to subjective experiences of faith and, on a cultural level, to the initial spread and subsequent persistence of Christianity. (...)
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  • Comic-Book Superheroes and Prosocial Agency: A Large-Scale Quantitative Analysis of the Effects of Cognitive Factors on Popular Representations.James Carney & Pádraig Mac Carron - 2017 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 17 (3-4):306-330.
    We argue that the counterfactual representations of popular culture, like their religious cognates, are shaped by cognitive constraints that become visible when considered in aggregate. In particular, we argue that comic-book literature embodies core intuitions about sociality and its maintenance that are activated by the cognitive problem of living in large groups. This leads to four predictions: comic-book enforcers should be punitively prosocial, be quasi-omniscient, exhibit kin-signalling proxies and be minimally counterintuitive. We gauge these predictions against a large sample of (...)
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  • Supernatural Agent Cognitions in Dreams.Patrick McNamara, Brian Teed, Victoria Pae, Adonai Sebastian & Chisom Chukwumerije - 2018 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 18 (3-4):428-450.
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  • Human Groups as Adaptive Units.David Sloan Wilson - 2005 - In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents. Oxford University Press. pp. 78.
  • From Love to Evolution: Historical Turning Point in the Psychology of Religion.Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi - 2006 - Archive for the Psychology of Religion 28 (1):49-61.
    Kirkpatrick's contribution is evaluated in the context of historical developments and persistent crisis in the psychology of religion. The field has been characterized by the lack of a unifying theory, as well as by some literature being driven by religious apologetics. Kirkpatrick's approach has been truly theory-driven, always seeking a general psychological framework for analyzing religion and religiosity. His personal odyssey led him to embrace Bowlby's attachment theory, which has had a unique impact of research in academic psychology. But then (...)
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  • Precis: Attachment, Evolution, and the Psychology of Religion.Lee A. Kirkpatrick - 2006 - Archive for the Psychology of Religion 28 (1):3-47.
    In this summary of my recent book , I outline a general theoretical approach for the psychology of religion and develop one component of it in detail. First I review arguments and research demonstrating the utility of attachment theory for understanding many aspects of religious belief and behavior, particularly within modern Christianity. I then introduce evolutionary psychology as a general paradigm for psychology and the social sciences, arguing that religion is not an adaptation in the evolutionary sense but rather a (...)
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  • Towards a Theory of Spiritual and Religious Experiences.Chris A. M. Hermans - 2015 - Archive for the Psychology of Religion 37 (2):141-167.
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  • An Introduction to Evolutionary Psychology and its Application to Suicide Terrorism.James R. Liddle, Lance S. Bush & Todd K. Shackelford - 2011 - Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression 3:176-197.
    This article introduces evolutionary psychology to a general readership, with the purpose of applying evolutionary psychology to suicide terrorism. Some of the key concepts related to evolutionary psychology are discussed, as well as several misconceptions associated with this approach to psychology. We argue that one of the primary, but insufficient, motivating factors for suicide terrorism is strong religious belief. Evolutionary psychological theories related to religious belief, and supporting empirical work, are described, laying a foundation for examining suicide terrorism. Several promising (...)
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  • On the Adaptive Advantage of Always Being Right (Even When One is Not).Nathalia L. Gjersoe & Bruce M. Hood - 2009 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32 (6):521-522.
    We propose another positive illusion that fits with McKay & Dennett's (M&D's) criteria for adaptive misbeliefs. This illusion is pervasive in adult reasoning but we focus on its prevalence in children's developing theories. It is a strongly held conviction arising from normal functioning of the doxastic system that confers adaptive advantage on the individual.
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  • Moral Disgust and The Tribal Instincts Hypothesis.Daniel Kelly - 2013 - In Kim Sterelny, Richard Joyce, Brett Calcott & Ben Fraser (eds.), Cooperation and its Evolution. MIT Press.
    Psychological research has been discovering a number of puzzling features of morality and moral cognition recently.2 Zhong & Liljenquist (2006) found that when people are asked to think about an unethical deed or recall one they themselves have committed in the past, issues of physical cleanliness become salient. Zhong & Liljenquist cleverly designate this phenomenon the “Macbeth Effect,” and it takes some interesting forms. For instance, reading a story describing an immoral deed increased people’s desire for products related to cleansing, (...)
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  • Universal Moral Grammar: A Critical Appraisal.Pierre Jacob & Emmanuel Dupoux - 2007 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 11 (9):373-378.
    A new framework for the study of the human moral faculty is currently receiving much attention: the so-called ‘universal moral grammar' framework. It is based on an intriguing analogy, first pointed out by Rawls, between the study of the human moral sense and Chomsky's research program into the human language faculty. In order to assess UMG, we ask: is moral competence modular? Does it have an underlying hierarchical grammatical structure? Does moral diversity rest on culture-dependent parameters? We review evidence that (...)
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  • Relativism and the Ontological Turn Within Anthropology.M. Palecek & M. Risjord - 2013 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 43 (1):3-23.
    The “ontological turn” is a recent movement within cultural anthropology. Its proponents want to move beyond a representationalist framework, where cultures are treated as systems of belief that provide different perspectives on a single world. Authors who write in this vein move from talk of many cultures to many “worlds,” thus appearing to affirm a form of relativism. We argue that, unlike earlier forms of relativism, the ontological turn in anthropology is not only immune to the arguments of Donald Davidson’s (...)
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  • Knowledge and the Objection to Religious Belief From Cognitive Science.Kelly James Clark & Dani Rabinowitz - 2011 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 3 (1):67 - 81.
    A large chorus of voices has grown around the claim that theistic belief is epistemically suspect since, as some cognitive scientists have hypothesized, such beliefs are a byproduct of cognitive mechanisms which evolved for rather different adaptive purposes. This paper begins with an overview of the pertinent cognitive science followed by a short discussion of some relevant epistemic concepts. Working from within a largely Williamsonian framework, we then present two different ways in which this research can be formulated into an (...)
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  • Cognitive Adaptation: Insights From a Pragmatist Perspective.Jay Schulkin - 2008 - Contemporary Pragmatism 5 (1):39-59.
    Classical pragmatism construed mind as an adaptive organ rooted in biology; biology was not one side and culture on the other. The cognitive systems underlie adaptation in response to the precarious and in the search for the stable and more secure that result in diverse forms of inquiry. Cognitive systems are rooted in action, and classical pragmatism knotted our sense of ourselves in response to nature and our cultural evolution. Cognitive systems should be demythologized away from Cartesian detachment, and towards (...)
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  • British and American Children's Preferences for Teleo-Functional Explanations of the Natural World.Deborah Kelemen - 2003 - Cognition 88 (2):201-221.
  • Is God an Adaptation?Hugo Viciana & Pierrick Bourrat - 2011 - Philosophia 39 (2):397-408.
    In this critical notice to Robert Wright’s The Evolution of God, we focus on the question of whether Wright’s God is one which can be said to be an adaptation in a well defined sense. Thus we evaluate the likelihood of different models of adaptive evolution of cultural ideas in their different levels of selection. Our result is an emphasis on the plurality of mechanisms that may lead to adaptation. By way of conclusion we assess epistemologically some of Wright’s more (...)
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  • Effective Untestability and Bounded Rationality Help in Seeing Religion as Adaptive Misbelief.Konrad Talmont-Kaminski - 2009 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32 (6):536-537.
    McKay & Dennett (M&D) look for adaptive misbeliefs that result from the normal, though fallible, functioning of human cognition. Their account can be substantially improved by the addition of two elements: (1) significance of a belief's testability for its functionality, and (2) an account of reason appropriate to understanding systemic misbelief. Together, these points show why religion probably is an adaptive misbelief.
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  • Spirituality and Nursing: A Reductionist Approach.John Paley - 2008 - Nursing Philosophy 9 (1):3-18.
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  • The Natural Foundations of Religion.Mark Collier - 2013 - Philosophical Psychology 27 (5):665-680.
    In the Natural history of religion, Hume attempts to understand the origin of our folk belief in gods and spirits. These investigations are not, however, purely descriptive. Hume demonstrates that ontological commitment to supernatural agents depends on motivated reasoning and illusions of control. These beliefs cannot, then, be reflectively endorsed. This proposal must be taken seriously because it receives support from recent work on our psychological responses to uncertainty. It also compares quite favorably with its main competitors in the cognitive (...)
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  • Melting Lizards and Crying Mailboxes: Children's Preferential Recall of Minimally Counterintuitive Concepts.Konika Banerjee, Omar S. Haque & Elizabeth S. Spelke - 2013 - Cognitive Science 37 (7):1251-1289.
    Previous research with adults suggests that a catalog of minimally counterintuitive concepts, which underlies supernatural or religious concepts, may constitute a cognitive optimum and is therefore cognitively encoded and culturally transmitted more successfully than either entirely intuitive concepts or maximally counterintuitive concepts. This study examines whether children's concept recall similarly is sensitive to the degree of conceptual counterintuitiveness (operationalized as a concept's number of ontological domain violations) for items presented in the context of a fictional narrative. Seven- to nine-year-old children (...)
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  • How Children and Adults Represent God's Mind.Larisa Heiphetz, Jonathan D. Lane, Adam Waytz & Liane L. Young - 2016 - Cognitive Science 40 (1):121-144.
    For centuries, humans have contemplated the minds of gods. Research on religious cognition is spread across sub-disciplines, making it difficult to gain a complete understanding of how people reason about gods' minds. We integrate approaches from cognitive, developmental, and social psychology and neuroscience to illuminate the origins of religious cognition. First, we show that although adults explicitly discriminate supernatural minds from human minds, their implicit responses reveal far less discrimination. Next, we demonstrate that children's religious cognition often matches adults' implicit (...)
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  • How Do Rituals Affect Cooperation?Ronald Fischer, Rohan Callander, Paul Reddish & Joseph Bulbulia - 2013 - Human Nature 24 (2):115-125.
    Collective rituals have long puzzled anthropologists, yet little is known about how rituals affect participants. Our study investigated the effects of nine naturally occurring rituals on prosociality. We operationalized prosociality as (1) attitudes about fellow ritual participants and (2) decisions in a public goods game. The nine rituals varied in levels of synchrony and levels of sacred attribution. We found that rituals with synchronous body movements were more likely to enhance prosocial attitudes. We also found that rituals judged to be (...)
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  • Explaining Religion (Away?).Jonathan Jong - 2013 - Sophia 52 (3):521-533.
    In light of the advancements in cognitive science 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 (...)
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  • Anthropology in the Cognitive Sciences: The Value of Diversity.Sara J. Unsworth - 2012 - Topics in Cognitive Science 4 (3):429-436.
    Beller, Bender, and Medin (this issue) offer a provocative proposal outlining several reasons why anthropology and the rest of cognitive science might consider parting ways. Among those reasons, they suggest that separation might maintain the diversity needed to address larger problems facing humanity, and that the research strategies used across the disciplines are already so diverse as to be incommensurate. The present paper challenges the view that research strategies are incommensurate and offers a multimethod approach to cultural research that can (...)
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  • Iq and the Values of Nations.Satoshi Kanazawa - 2009 - Journal of Biosocial Science 41 (4):537.
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  • What Does God Know? Supernatural Agents' Access to Socially Strategic and Non-Strategic Information.Benjamin G. Purzycki, Daniel N. Finkel, John Shaver, Nathan Wales, Adam B. Cohen & Richard Sosis - 2012 - Cognitive Science 36 (5):846-869.
    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 (...)
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  • Why Anthropology Remains Integral to Cognitive Science.Jordan Kiper - 2014 - Topics in Cognitive Science 6 (1):151-152.
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  • God in the Hands of Future Science.Bjørn Grinde - 2010 - World Futures 66 (5):351-362.
    There is reasonable evidence suggesting that humans have an innate tendency toward being religious. Consequently, religion is unlikely to disappear; the question then is how this feature will impact on future society. Three scenarios are discussed: One, science will dominate; two, religion will dominate; and three, the present conflict between the two is resolved. The latter scenario may happen through a realization that religion has the potential for doing more good than bad, in terms of individual quality of life and (...)
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  • Are Schizophrenics More Religious? Do They Have More Daughters?Satoshi Kanazawa - 2008 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 31 (3):272-273.
    Combined with recent evolutionary psychological theories, Crespi & Badcock's (C&B's) intragenomic conflict theory of the social brain suggests that schizophrenics are more religious, and autistics are less religious, than the normal population. Combined with the generalized Trivers-Willard hypothesis (gTWH), it suggests that schizophrenics have more daughters, and autistics have more sons, than expected.
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  • Why the Cognitive Science of Religion Cannot Rescue ‘Spiritual Care’.John Paley - 2015 - Nursing Philosophy 16 (4):213-225.
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  • ‘Orientation’ and Religious Discourse.Leslie Armour - 2013 - International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 74 (5):391-409.
    Religious discourse is in some way about the world, but its relation to other kinds of discourse – scientific historical, and moral – is a matter of dispute. Suggestions to avoid conflict with other kinds of discourse – the suggestion that religion invokes a distinct ‘language game’ and the suggestion that it should be taken as ‘basic’ for instance – have not, I argue, been successful. Essentially religion is involved in orienting us to the world and our goals, and orientation (...)
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  • To Naturalize or Not to Naturalize? An Issue for Cognitive Science as Well as Anthropology.Keith Stenning - 2012 - Topics in Cognitive Science 4 (3):413-419.
    Several of Beller, Bender, and Medin’s (2012) issues are as relevant within cognitive science as between it and anthropology. Knowledge-rich human mental processes impose hermeneutic tasks, both on subjects and researchers. Psychology's current philosophy of science is ill suited to analyzing these: Its demand for ‘‘stimulus control’’ needs to give way to ‘‘negotiation of mutual interpretation.’’ Cognitive science has ways to address these issues, as does anthropology. An example from my own work is about how defeasible logics are mathematical models (...)
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  • Evolutionary Debunking Arguments Against Theism, Reconsidered.Jonathan Jong & Aku Visala - 2014 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 76 (3):243-258.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments against religious beliefs move from the claim that religious beliefs are caused by off-track processes to the conclusion that said religious beliefs are unjustified and/or false. Prima facie, EDAs commit the genetic fallacy, unduly conflating the context of discovery and the context of justification. In this paper, we first consider whether EDAs necessarily commit the genetic fallacy, and if not, whether modified EDAs provide successful arguments against theism. Then, we critically evaluate more recent attempts to argue that (...)
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  • Children's Attributions of Beliefs to Humans and God: Cross‐Cultural Evidence.Nicola Knight, Paulo Sousa, Justin L. Barrett & Scott Atran - 2004 - Cognitive Science 28 (1):117-126.
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  • The Representation of Agents in Auditory Verbal Hallucinations.Sam Wilkinson & Vaughan Bell - 2016 - Mind and Language 31 (1):104-126.
    Current models of auditory verbal hallucinations tend to focus on the mechanisms underlying their occurrence, but often fail to address the content of the auditory experience. In other words, they tend to ask why there are AVHs at all, instead of asking why, given that there are AVHs, they have the properties that they have. One such property, which has been largely overlooked and which we will focus on here, is why the voices are often experienced as coming from agents, (...)
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