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Do religious beliefs have a place within an 'epistemically naturalized' cognitive system?


Wood, G, Do religious beliefs have a place within an 'epistemically naturalized' cognitive system?, Sophia, 56, (4) pp. 539-556. ISSN 0038-1527 (2017) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright 2017 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Sophia. The final authenticated version is available online at:

DOI: doi:10.1007/s11841-016-0567-4


This paper offers an account of religious belief using the resources available within naturalized epistemology. The account accepts the basic architecture of an individual’s ‘web of belief’ as articulated by Quine and Ullian, and explores some of the further details of the Quinean account of naturalised epistemology. The paper then updates that account drawing on recent work in psychology and cognitive science. The paper also considers the purpose of an individual’s web of belief. Quine’s web of belief has a very tightly constrained purpose, namely, the prediction of future experience in the light of past experience. But, drawing lessons from the feminist critique of analytic epistemology and the philosophy of science, this paper considers the consequences if the purposes of a web of belief are wider than simply predicting future experience in the light of past experience. Drawing on work from the cognitive science of religion the paper suggests a wider set of purposes could result in religious beliefs existing in a web of belief, even when that web of belief is understood purely from the perspective of naturalised epistemology.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:naturalised epistemology, religious epistemology, web of belief, Quine, core knowledge systems, feminist critique of philosophy of science, cognitive science of religion
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:Philosophy
Research Field:Philosophical psychology (incl. moral psychology and philosophy of action)
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in philosophy and religious studies
UTAS Author:Wood, G (Dr Graham Wood)
ID Code:120076
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Office of the School of Humanities
Deposited On:2017-08-09
Last Modified:2018-08-23
Downloads:57 View Download Statistics

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