PHIL 393

The Cognitive Foundations of Morality and Religion

Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary study of the mind that exists at the intersection of philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and anthropology among other fields. There are now burgeoning research programs devoted to developing accounts of the cognitive foundations of morality and religion. This is an upper level survey of some of the leading views from these fields. Topics to be covered may include: the role of emotions and reason in moral deliberation; the nature of our moral intuitions; whether the scientific study of the mind can help us decide between competing moral theories; whether cognitive scientific accounts of moral psychology show morality to be a sham; the elements of mind involved in the formation of religious belief; whether religion is a kind of evolutionary byproduct; whether religion is a part of human nature; and whether scientific accounts of the cognitive foundations of religion show religious beliefs to be irrational.