Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary

An unconstrained mind: Explaining belief in the afterlife

Philip Robbins a1 and Anthony I. Jack a2
a1 Department of Philosophy, Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130
a2 Department of Neurology, School of Medicine, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63110.

Article author query
robbins p   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
jack ai   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Bering contends that belief in the afterlife is explained by the simulation constraint hypothesis: the claim that we cannot imagine what it is like to be dead. This explanation suffers from some difficulties. First, it implies the existence of a corresponding belief in the “beforelife.” Second, a simpler explanation will suffice. Rather than appeal to constraints on our thoughts about death, we suggest that belief in the afterlife can be better explained by the lack of such constraints.