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Handbook of ValuePerspectives from Economics, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Psychology and Sociology$
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Tobias Brosch and David Sander

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198716600

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198716600.001.0001

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Religious value and moral psychology

Religious value and moral psychology

(p.375) Chapter 18 Religious value and moral psychology
Handbook of Value

Adam C. Pelser

Robert C. Roberts

Oxford University Press

“Religious value” can be understood in two ways. Ontological religious value is the excellence of a “transcendent” Ultimate Reality such as God. Psychological religious values are attitudinal or dispositional valuings, informed by one’s religion, that involve taking an object to possess ontological religious value. Religions contribute to the development and internalization of psychological religious values through narratives, embodied rituals, and acts of service, among other means. Recent critics of religion argue that psychological religious values are irrational and socially pernicious. According to Jonathan Haidt’s evolutionary moral psychology, however, religious values arose out of innate, socially valuable emotional-intuitive dispositions. Haidt is correct that emotional intuitions facilitate the formation of religious and moral values, but these emotions can be epistemically, and not merely pragmatically, valuable. They may enable us to experience objective values, thus serving as evidence of the existence of various kinds of value, including ontological religious value.

Keywords:   religion, religious value, moral value, moral psychology, psychology of religion, evolutionary psychology, emotion, epistemology

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