Religion, Rationality, and Experience: A Response to the New Rational Choice Theory of Religion
Article first published online: 18 FEB 2004
Volume 22, Issue 1, pages 140–160, March 2004
How to Cite
Jerolmack, C. and Porpora, D. (2004), Religion, Rationality, and Experience: A Response to the New Rational Choice Theory of Religion. Sociological Theory, 22: 140–160. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9558.2004.00208.x
- Issue published online: 18 FEB 2004
- Article first published online: 18 FEB 2004
This paper is a critical response to the newest version of the rational choice theory of religion (RCTR). In comparison with previous critiques, this paper takes aim at RCTR's foundational assumption of psychological egoism and argues that the thesis of psychological egoism is untenable. Without that thesis, the normative aspects of religious commitment cannot be reduced validly to instrumental reason. On neither conceptual nor empirical grounds therefore can religion or religious commitment be defined comprehensively in terms of exchange theory. With the failure of psychological egoism as a point of departure, the paper articulates an alternative theory of religion, one based on the epistemic rationality grounded in religious experience and religious emotion.