Religion, Brain and Behavior 10 (3):252-271 (2020)

Authors
Toby Handfield
Monash University
Abstract
Sacred value attitudes involve a distinctive profile of norm psychology: an absolutist prohibition on transgressing the value, combined with outrage at even hypothetical transgressions. This article considers three mechanisms by which such attitudes may be adaptive, and relates them to central theories regarding the evolution of religion. The first, “deterrence” mechanism functions to dissuade coercive expropriation of valuable resources. This mechanism explains the existence of sacred value attitudes prior to the development of religion and also explains analogues of sacred value in non-human species. The two remaining mechanisms, “assurance” and “coalitional,” are more likely to have been involved in the cultural evolution of specifically religious behavior. In the assurance mechanism, sacred value attitudes increase the cost of ideological commitments, making them more reliable as signals of a cooperative disposition. In the coalitional mechanism, sacred value attitudes make it dangerous for third parties to dissent from a social norm, and thus discourage competitor ideologies. While both these mechanisms are compatible with major accounts of the evolution of religion, different theories suggest a greater or lesser emphasis on one mechanism or the other.
Keywords Evolutionary ethics  deontology  moral absolutism  sacred values  religion
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

View all 13 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Power-in- Use: Secular and Sacred Aspects.Arabinda Basu - 2000 - Journal of Human Values 6 (2):165-174.
On the Ontology of the Sacred (and the Profane).Raymond Aaron Younis - 2020 - New York, NY, USA: Rowman & Littlefield (Lexington).
The Sacred and the Person.Albert Borgmann - 2011 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 54 (2):183-194.
Religion and Attitudes of Political Parties.Maria Serafimova - 2007 - The Politics and Religion Journal 1 (2):29-38.
Notes on the Sacred.Jean-Luc Nancy - 2013 - Theory, Culture and Society 30 (5):153-158.
Sacred Books.Manfred Hutter - 2019 - In Ludger Kühnhardt & Tilman Mayer (eds.), The Bonn Handbook of Globality: Volume 2. Springer Verlag. pp. 1377-1385.
Towards the Rationalization of the Sacred for More Veritable Societies.Jerry Chidozie Chukwuokolo - 2011 - Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 10 (29):87-111.
Moral Horror and the Sacred.Robert Merrihew Adams - 1995 - Journal of Religious Ethics 23 (2):201 - 224.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2021-10-07

Total views
38 ( #289,201 of 2,463,151 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
38 ( #23,236 of 2,463,151 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes