Dissertation, Australian National University (2019)

Authors
Carl Brusse
University of Sydney
Abstract
The origins of human social cooperation confound simple evolutionary explanation. But from Darwin and Durkheim onward, theorists (anthropologists and sociologists especially) have posited a potential link with another curious and distinctively human social trait that cries out for explanation: religion. This dissertation explores one contemporary theory of the co-evolution of religion and human social cooperation: the signalling theory of religion, or religious signalling theory (RST). According to the signalling theory, participation in social religion (and its associated rituals and sanctions) acts as an honest signal of one’s commitment to a religiously demarcated community and its way of doing things. This signal would allow prosocial individuals to positively assort with one another for mutual advantage, to the exclusion of more exploitative individuals. In effect, the theory offers a way that religion and cooperation might explain one another, but which that stays within an individualist adaptive paradigm. My approach is not to assess the empirical adequacy of the religious signalling explanation or contrast it with other explanations, but rather to deal with the theory in its own terms – isolating and fleshing out its core commitments, explanatory potential, and limitations. The key to this is acknowledging the internal complexities of signalling theory, with respect to the available models of honest signalling and the extent of their fit (or otherwise) with religion as a target system. The method is to take seriously the findings of formal modelling in animal signalling and other disciplines, and to apply these (and methods from the philosophy of biology more generally) to progressively build up a comprehensive picture of the theory, its inherent strengths and weaknesses. The first two chapters outline the dual explanatory problems that cooperation and religion present for evolutionary human science, and surveys contemporary approaches toward explaining them. Chapter three articulates an evolutionary conception of the signalling theory, and chapters four to six make the case for a series of requirements, limitations, and principles of application. Chapters seven and eight argue for the value of formal modelling to further flesh out the theory’s commitments and potential and describe some simple simulation results which make progress in this regard. Though the inquiry often problematizes the signalling theory, it also shows that it should not be dismissed outright, and that it makes predictions which are apt for empirical testing.
Keywords Evolution of Religion  Cultural Evolution  Signalling  Formal modelling  Modelling and explanation
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.25911/5d7a2dc0e8c62
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 52,919
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

View all 98 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Modelling and the Fall and Rise of the Handicap Principle.Jonathan Grose - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (5):677-696.
Costly Signalling Theories: Beyond the Handicap Principle.Ben Fraser - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (2):263-278.
Costly Signalling: A Work in Progress.Stewart Saunders - 2009 - Biology and Philosophy 24 (3):405-416.
Propositional Content in Signalling Systems.Jonathan Birch - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 171 (3):493-512.
Content in Simple Signalling Systems.Nicholas Shea, Peter Godfrey-Smith & Rosa Cao - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):1009-1035.
A Stag Hunt with Signalling and Mutual Beliefs.Jelle de Boer - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (4):559-576.
Theory and Empiricism of Religious Evolution : Foundation of a Research Program.Volkhard Krech - 2018 - Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft 26 (2):215-263.
Addiction, Self‐Signalling and the Deep Self.Richard Holton - 2016 - Mind and Language 31 (3):300-313.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2019-09-18

Total views
11 ( #766,323 of 2,343,627 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #514,299 of 2,343,627 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes