Taylor Davis
Purdue University
The literature on the evolution of religion has been divided by a fundamental debate between adaptation theories, which explain religious traits as products of selection for religion, and byproduct theories, which explain religious traits as products of selection for other, non-religious functions. Recently, however, a new position has emerged in this debate, as an influential new theory based on cultural selection claims to integrate adaptation theories with byproduct theories, yielding a single, unified account. I argue that the proponents of this view do not say enough about how integration is actually supposed to work, from a logical point of view. Basic questions arise from the assumptions required for unifying these apparently conflicting approaches, which the authors of the account do not address. In response to these questions, I provide a model of the religious phenotype, the Goldberg Exaptation Model, which shows that adaptation and byproduct theories are consistent, and explains how they are positively related, over and above mere consistency. On this view, the religious phenotype is best understood on analogy with a Rube Goldberg device: it is assembled by selection for religion, but using parts designed by selection for other, non-religious functions.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s13164-016-0321-4
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: 71,172
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 29 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Selection Type Theories.Lindley Darden & Joseph A. Cain - 1989 - Philosophy of Science 56 (1):106-129.
Adaptation for, Exaptation As.Nicholas S. Thompson - 2002 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (4):531-532.
Rx: Distinguish Group Selection From Group Adaptation.Elisabeth A. Lloyd - 1994 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 17 (4):628-629.
Religious Cognition as Social Cognition.Hans Van Eyghen - 2015 - Studia Religiologica 48 (4):301-312.
It's Adaptations All the Way Down.M. D. Rutherford - 2002 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (4):526-526.
The Evolutionary Structure of Scientific Theories.John S. Wilkins - 1998 - Biology and Philosophy 13 (4):479–504.
L'adaptation Evolutive.J. T. Wiebes - 1982 - Acta Biotheoretica 31 (4):239-243.
Can Neurotheology Explain Religion?Dave Vliegenthart - 2011 - Archive for the Psychology of Religion 33 (2):137-171.


Added to PP index

Total views
15 ( #700,551 of 2,517,824 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #272,606 of 2,517,824 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes