Abstract for talk in Aarhus

Posted on May 10, 2010

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On May 21st I will be giving a talk in Aarhus to the Religion, Cognition and Culture people in Aarhus. Here is the abstract:

Explaining the magic/religion distinction using a dual inheritance model

The dual inheritance model of religion seeks to explain it as based upon cognitive byproducts that have been co-opted for prosocial functions. This approach invites comparison with other supernatural beliefs/practices that arise due to the same cognitive mechanisms but which have not been similarly co-opted. The example of this kind that I will compare religion to in my talk will be provided by superstitions and will explore the possibility of theorising the traditional magic/religion distinction on an evolutionary basis. Using a modified version of the new principle for distinguishing magic and religion proposed by Pyysiäinen to identify the respective kinds of beliefs and practices, I will argue that the dual inheritance model of religion is capable of explaining a number of the traditionally proposed differences between them while simultaneously bringing out their shared cognitive basis.

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