PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Anthropomorphism as Cognitive Bias

Comparative psychologists have long worried about a human tendency to anthropomorphize. Intuitive anthropomorphism is a heuristic used by our unconscious folk psychology to understand the behavior of nonhuman animals. I argue that this produces a cognitive bias, and we should base controls on empirical evidence. The literature on controlling implicit social biases is helpful because the interventions it studies can be applied to the lab. That literature suggests that the most common for intuitive anthropomorphism, Morgan’s Canon, should be rejected entirely, while others need supplementation. It also helps generate new approaches.

Author Information:

Mike Dacey    
Washington University in St. Louis


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