Draft version of For God and Country, but not necessarily for Truth

Posted on July 28, 2011


I have put up on academic.com a draft of my article on ideology and religion – it has been one of the things I have been working on instead of writing on the blog. Here is the abstract:

Drawing upon the distinction between beliefs whose function is related to their truth and those where it is not, I will claim that ideological beliefs systems are typified by two traits that go hand in hand. The first is that their functionality is not connected to how accurately they represent reality. The second is that their function is to motivate prosocial behaviour. Among ideologies I will distinguish between secular ideologies and religions, which I will claim should be understood as magical ideologies. The reason for this way of thinking about religions will be that in their case the stability of the belief systems is particularly dependent upon the cognitive byproducts that render magical beliefs attractive to human minds. To remain stable, all ideologies have to limit their contact with empirical considerations by a variety of means – religions, however, are especially successful at managing this while retaining their perceived relevance.