Exceptionalist Naturalism

Yes, we (think we) can.

The effect in thirty seconds

Imagine a raccoon leaning over a narrow ledge. The laws of physics predict that the raccoon definitely will fall. Can he still avoid falling? Now imagine a tennis ball leaning over that same narrow ledge. The laws of physics predict that it definitely will fall. Can it still avoid falling? My lab discovered that people tend to answer those two questions differently. People intuitively think that animals, including humans, can resist physically determined outcomes in ways that material objects, such as tennis balls, cannot. At the same time, people also view animal behavior as caused by physical and social forces. Overall, we view animals as exceptional parts of the natural world, which has important implications for education and decision-making.

Relevant publications

Exceptionalist Naturalism

More findings

The Source-Content Bias

The Bi-Location Effect

The Untruth Effect