Normative Cognition in the Cognitive Science of Religion

Addis, Mark (2023). Normative Cognition in the Cognitive Science of Religion. In: Vinten, Robert ed. Wittgenstein and the Cognitive Science of Religion: Interpreting Human Nature and the Mind. London: Bloomsbury Academic.


Ideas from Wittgenstein are developed to provide suggestions about how both the nature and acquisition of normative cognition in the cognitive science of religion might be understood. As part of this there is some consideration of more general issues about the nature and status of claims in the cognitive science of religion and of appropriate methodologies for the cognitive study of religion. The gaining, production, distribution and implementation of social concepts and norms involves the possession of certain cognitive skills and the ability to use symbols, concepts and norms as normative cognitive tools. Normative cognition is connected to social facts which are construed in Searle’s sense as being any facts involving collective intentionality. For example, socially shared belief systems which are concerned with the ideological bases for the distribution and exercise of power are large systems of social facts whose functions involve the generation of norms. Social facts can be included in Wittgenstein’s account of meaning being socially constructed by a community of language users. Such inclusion enables his ideas, especially those from On Certainty about world pictures, to be usefully employed to clarify the ontological and epistemological status of social facts in a way which does not involve reification along with articulating their significance for normative cognition. World pictures include social facts with socially shared belief systems being a significant constitutive element.

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