De Cruz and De Smedt: Religion as a Cognitive Technology
Lecture by Helen de Cruz and Johan De Smedt organized by the Department of Theoretical Philosophy
This paper argues that religious beliefs and practices are cognitive technologies. They rely on pre-existing cognitive adaptations, not as automatic or inevitable byproducts, but rather, they cultivate and extend cognitive adaptations in culture-specific ways. Religions serve a variety of functions, such as enhancing the placebo effect in healing rituals and relieving death anxiety through belief in an afterlife. This account provides a coherent explanatory framework for features of religions across cultures, such as their variability and their reliance on material culture.
Helen De Cruz is a research fellow at Somerville College, University of Oxford, working on a Templeton project on the cognitive basis of natural theology. Johan De Smedt is a visiting scholar at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. He studies the cognitive basis of religious belief and religious disagreement.
Friday, 28 October, 2011 10.00-11.00 h
Oude Boteringestraat 52, room Beta
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