Interactionism and the non obviousness of scientific theories
Levine's discussion of Rethinking Religion (1990) and "Crisis of Conscience, Riddle of Identity" (1993) includes some rash charges, some useful comments, and some profound misunderstandings. The latter, especially, reveal areas where we need to clarify and further defend our claims. In the second section we shall discuss the epistemological and methodological issues that Levine raises. Then we shall turn in the third section to theoretical and substantive matters. In fact, Levine remains almost completely silent on substantive matters (except to say that our claims are "obvious" and "trite.") Levine claims, in effect, (1) that religion is outside of the scope of scientific analysis, (2) that our competence approach to theorizing is not necessary for generating the theoretical claims that we make, and (3) that the substantive consequences of those theoretical claims are obvious and trivial. We unequivocally reject the first and third claims and, Levine's profound misunderstandings about the competence approach to theorizing notwithstanding, completely agree with the second. Identifying the confusions in Levine's discussion that inform item (3) will clarify our position. We turn first, though, to matters of epistemology and method (as these bear on items (1) and (2)).
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