Recent work in cognitive science 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)
We critique two popular philosophical definitions of intellectual humility: the “low concern for status” and the “limitations-owning.” accounts. Based upon our analysis, we offer an alternative working definition of intellectual humility: the virtue of accurately tracking what one could non-culpably take to be the positive epistemic status of one’s own beliefs. We regard this view of intellectual humility both as a virtuous mean between intellectual arrogance and diffidence and as having advantages over other recent conceptions of intellectual humility. After defending (...) this view, we sketch remaining questions and issues that may bear upon the psychological treatment of intellectual humility such as whether evidence will help determine how this construct relates to general social humility on the one hand, and intellectual traits such as open-mindedness, curiosity, and honesty on the other. (shrink)
The study of intellectual humility is still in its early stages and issues of definition and measurement are only now being explored. To inform and guide the process of defining and measuring this important intellectual virtue, we conducted a series of studies into the implicit theory – or ‘folk’ understanding – of an intellectually humble person, a wise person, and an intellectually arrogant person. In Study 1, 350 adults used a free-listing procedure to generate a list of descriptors, one for (...) each person-concept. In Study 2, 335 adults rated the previously generated descriptors by how characteristic each was of the target person-concept. In Study 3, 344 adults sorted the descriptors by similarity for each person-concept. By comparing and contrasting the three person-concepts, a complex portrait of an intellectually humble person emerges with particular epistemic, self-oriented, and other-oriented dimensions. (shrink)
Reformed epistemology and cognitive science 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. Cognitive science 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 cognitive science of religion. (shrink)
We report the results of a cross-cultural investigation of person-body reasoning in the United Kingdom and northern Brazilian Amazon (Marajó Island). The study provides evidence that directly bears upon divergent theoretical claims in cognitive psychology and anthropology, respectively, on the cognitive origins and cross-cultural incidence of mind-body dualism. In a novel reasoning task, we found that participants across the two sample populations parsed a wide range of capacities similarly in terms of the capacities’ perceived anchoring to bodily function. Patterns of (...) reasoning concerning the respective roles of physical and biological properties in sustaining various capacities did vary between sample populations, however. Further, the data challenge prior ad-hoc categorizations in the empirical literature on the developmental origins of and cognitive constraints on psycho-physical reasoning (e.g., in afterlife concepts). We suggest cross-culturally validated categories of “Body Dependent” and “Body Independent” items for future developmental and cross-cultural research in this emerging area. (shrink)
In sketching a preliminary scientific theory of religion, Atran & Norenzayan (A&N) generally agree with cognitive scientists of religion in the factors that coalesce to form religion. At times they misrepresent, however, the notion of “counterintuitive” concepts as they apply to religious concepts, confusing counterintuitive with counterfactual, category mistakes, and logical contradiction.