Call Us: US - +1 845 478 5244 | UK - +44 20 7193 7850 | AUS - +61 2 8005 4826

Theories of social cognition

All these theories hold that gods, or other supernatural beings, are believed to be minded or have mental states. However, all also hold that religious cognition is to some extent different from ordinary social cognition. According to Guthrie’s and Barrett’s theories, supernatural minds are believed to be invisible. In both Boyer’s and Luhrmann’s theories, divine minds are believed to be more powerful than human minds. Therefore all theories seem to agree that religious cognition is a particular subclass of religious cognition, but the difference with ordinary cognition appears to be stronger in Boyer’s and Luhrmann’s theories. For Guthrie, Barrett and Bering, gods are invisible, but there is no real difference between human minds and the minds gods are believed to have. In Guthrie’s and Barrett’s theories, supernatural minds have the same agential powers as human minds, and in Bering’s theory both human and supernatural minds engage in intentional meaningful acts. According to Boyer, supernatural minds are clearly different since they have full access to people’s mental states whereas human minds do not, while Luhrmann’s argument suggests that su- pernatural minds have the ability to intrude on other minds but human minds do not.If religious cognition can be considered a subclass of social cognition, religious cognition is in many ways similar to social cognition. Theories of religious cogni-tion could thus benefit from insights into social cognition. This is, however, largely missing in most theories of religion. In order to fill this lacuna, we will look at three influential approaches to social cognition in recent philosophy of mind.

  1. Theories of social cognition
    In this section, I will discuss three influential theories of social cognition: the theory -theory, the simulation theory and enactivist theories.
    I will lay out the the-ories and discuss the empirical evidence that their proponents refer to. Arguing for one theory over another would require several other papers, so I will not take a stance on this issu