brill.nl/mtsr M E T H O D T H E O R Y in the S T U D Y O F R E L I G I O N & © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2010 DOI: 10.1163/157006810X531120 Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 22 (2010) 340-353 Functionalism Since Hempel Robert A. Segal * School of Divinity, History and Philosophy, University of Aberdeen, King’s Quadrangle, Aberdeen AB24 3UB, Scotland, UK firstname.lastname@example.org Abstract It is usually assumed that, as an approach to religion, or to culture in general, functionalism is passé . Functionalism has been superseded by structuralism, poststructuralism, and postmodern- ism. Yet the appeal of functionalism as an explanation of the existence or persistence of religion has meant the continuing appearance of functionalist works on religion, which hail mainly from the social sciences. This article focuses on the philosophical problems posed by functionalism. Some of those problems are hoary. Others, while already recognized, were presented in their classic form in 1959 by Carl Hempel. Only those social scientists with philosophical proclivities were ever aﬀected by Hempel’s challenge. Their unanimous response has been to try to meet the challenge, and the fate of functionalism has been
Method & Theory in the Study of Religion – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2010
Keywords: Rappaport; Hempel; Cummins; Weber; functionalism; Radcliffe-Brown
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