5. Interactions -- Making Meaningful Social Worlds

Explanation - A Critical Primer - Ann Taves

Ann Taves [+-]
University of California at Santa Barbara
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Ann Taves is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Her most recent book is Revelatory Events: Three Case Studies of the Emergence of New Spiritual Paths (Princeton, 2016).
Egil Asprem [+-]
University of California at Santa Barbara
Egil Asprem is a postdoctoral scholar at the Department of Religious Studies, University of California Santa Barbara.


The rise of the evolutionary and cognitive science of religion in the last two decades has sparked a resurgence of interest in explaining religion. Predictably, these efforts have prompted rehearsals of longstanding debates over definitions of religion (what is being explained) and whether religious phenomena can or should be explained in nonreligious terms. Little attention has been devoted to the nature of explanation, methods of explanation, or what should count as an adequate explanation. This book addresses a series of basic questions in relation to long-standing discussions in the philosophy of science about explanations, causality, and mechanisms: What is an explanation? What is the relation between interpretation, theory, and explanation? Is there a place for human intentions, meanings, and values in scientific explanations? In light of recent developments in the philosophy of science, the authors make a case for the value of explanations and suggest ways in which explanatory approaches can be tested in practice by means of computer modeling and experimental methods.

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Taves, Ann; Asprem, Egil. 5. Interactions -- Making Meaningful Social Worlds. Explanation - A Critical Primer. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Oct 2026. ISBN 9781781796962. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=34330. Date accessed: 25 Jun 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.34330. Oct 2026

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