"This chapter begins with a primer on basic philosophical distinctions pertaining to emergence: weak emergence, two types of strong emergence depending on affirmation of supervenience, and several types of reductionism. These distinctions are then related to the mathematics of complex dynamical systems and to the concerns and accomplishments of computer engineers, particularly in the domain of modeling and simulation. We contend that computer engineers are (perhaps unintentionally) effecting a transformation in philosophical disputes about emergence, steadily promoting confidence in theories of weak emergence and undermining the plausibility of both types of strong emergence. This is occurring through the systematic production of probable explanatory reductions using computer models capable of simulating real-world complex systems."
Our contribution to the book summarizes our team's computational model of terror management theory and explains the opportunities and challenges associated with computer modeling and simulation methodologies.
In early November I was on the island of Lesbos with colleagues from the University of Agder (and elsewhere) for the Lesbos Dialouges, an international project led by Professor Apostolos Spanos. Several members of our research team contributed to the event.
Here is a link to my short introduction to the computational models on human migration being developed as part of the Modeling Religion in Norway (MODRN) project: Shults video.
In early December I was in Las Vegas for the 50th annual Winter Simulation Conference, where I presented a paper with Wesley J. Wildman and Paul Fishwick on "Teaching at the Intersection of Simulation and the Humanities" (available here). During the conference I was interviewed by Saikou Diallo from the Virginia Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation Center.
Here is a link to that podcast where we discuss computer modeling, artificial intelligence, ethics, atheism, and a host of other issues: Shults podcast.
As scholars, we often disagree about the values that ought to guide research in the academic study of religion. Can we study religion ”scientifically?” Should we? What is the purpose of scholarly research on religion? Which audiences should we address? How should our personal religiosity (or irreligiosity) shape our scholarship – if at all?
Of course, scholars are people too, and we can get touchy when talking about deeply held values. The situation in the academy is somewhat like an extended family gathering at Thanksgiving. Some scholars keep bringing up the problem of (other peoples’) values, and others just want us all to get along. Everyone feels the tension, but no one is sure what to do about it.
The goal of the "Values in Scholarship on Religion" (VISOR) project is to gather information about the actual values held by contemporary scholars of religion across a wide variety of sub-disciplines, so that we can have a more informed conversation around the academic table.
The survey stage of the project will be over at the end of 2017. We need as many scholars as possible to take the survey so our team will have a representative sample to analyze. We have had hundreds of individuals participate, but we want to have a good balance of scholars in a wide variety of disciplines that study religion (history, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, sociology, ethics, sacred texts, ritual studies, etc.).
Please click here to take the survey and contribute to this conversation!