Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary

Cultural adaptation and evolved, general-purpose cognitive mechanisms are sufficient to explain belief in souls

Kenneth R. Livingston a1
a1 Department of Psychology and Program in Cognitive Science, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY 12604-0479.

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It is suggested that general-purpose cognitive modules are the proper endophenotypes on which evolution has operated, not special purpose belief modules. These general-purpose modules operate to extract adaptive cultural patterns. Belief in souls may be adaptive and based in evolved systems without requiring that a specific cognitive system has evolved to support just such beliefs.