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Religion as an Independent Variable: Revisiting the Weberian Hypothesis'

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Studies in the sociology of religion generally assume "religion" to be causal with little or no attention paid to the theoretical justification or basis for such a claim. We argue in this paper that most such studies fail to satisfy the conditions for causal inference. Further, Weber, whom sociologists of religion often cite when theoretical claims are made, at worse never proposes religion as an independent variable and, at best is very ambiguous on the issue. We suggest that recent directions in cognitive psychology might form the basis for further research concerning the social significance of religion.

Affiliations: 1: The University of Vermont

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