View Chapters

Book: Method Today

Chapter: 13. Explanation and the Study of Religion

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.34431


This chapter argues that explanation is a necessary, but under-examined, aspect of theories of religion. The authors argue that historical impediments to explanation in our discipline can be overcome if we shift our view from “religion” in the abstract to concrete human behaviors in interaction. Drawing on contemporary discussions in the philosophy of science, they submit that a new mechanistic approach that integrates meanings, values, and intentional actions as causal factors in nested, multi-level mechanisms holds great promise for explaining the complex phenomena associated with “religion”.

Chapter Contributors

  • Egil Asprem ( - easprem2741) 'University of California at Santa Barbara'
  • Ann Taves ( - ataves) 'University of California at Santa Barbara'