The Original Sin of Cognition: Fear Prejudice, and Generalization

Journal of Philosophy 114 (8):393-421 (2017)
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Abstract

Generic generalizations such as ‘mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus’ or ‘sharks attack bathers’ are often accepted by speakers despite the fact that very few members of the kinds in question have the predicated property. Previous work suggests that such low-prevalence generalizations may be accepted when the properties in question are dangerous, harmful, or appalling. This paper argues that the study of such generic generalizations sheds light on a particular class of prejudiced social beliefs, and points to new ways in which those beliefs might be undermined and combatted.

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Sarah-Jane Leslie
Princeton University

Citations of this work

The Wrongs of Racist Beliefs.Rima Basu - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2497-2515.
Stop Talking About Fake News!Joshua Habgood-Coote - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (9-10):1033-1065.
On the Epistemic Costs of Implicit Bias.Tamar Szabó Gendler - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 156 (1):33-63.

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References found in this work

Generics: Cognition and Acquisition.Sarah-Jane Leslie - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (1):1-47.
Race, Culture, Identity: Misunderstood Connections.Kwame Anthony Appiah - 1996 - The Tanner Lectures on Human Values 17:51-136.
Xv*—How to Decide If Races Exist.Kwame Anthony Appiah - 2006 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106 (3):363-380.

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