Experimental Philosophy of Religion

In A. M. Bauer & S. Kornmesser (eds.), Compact Compendium of Experimental Philosophy. Walter de Gruyter (forthcoming)
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While experimental philosophy has fruitfully applied the tools and resources of psychology and cognitive science to debates within epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics, relatively little work has been done within philosophy of religion. And this isn’t due to a lack of need! Philosophers of religion frequently rely on empirical claims that can be either verified or disproven, but without exploring whether they are. And philosophers of religion frequently appeal to intuitions which may vary wildly according to education level, theological background, etc., without concern for whether or not the psychological mechanisms that underwrite those intuitions are broadly shared or reliable. In this chapter, I explore some of the fruit and possibilities for the emerging field of experimental philosophy of religion. First, in Section 1, I will elucidate some of the historical grounding for experimental philosophy of religion. Then in Section 2, I briefly consider how the tools and resources of experimental philosophy might be fruitfully applied to a seminal topic within philosophy of religion, namely, the problem of evil. In Section 3, we’ll sketch some broader applications of experimental philosophy of religion.

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Ian M. Church
Hillsdale College


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