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Invisible MindFlexible Social Cognition and Dehumanization$
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Lasana T. Harris

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262035965

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262035965.001.0001

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(p.65) 4 Explanation
Invisible Mind

Lasana T. Harris

The MIT Press

The fourth chapter argues that explanation may be the function of social cognition, aiding survival and driving human evolution. It explores the psychological literature on anthropomorphism—instances where people bring non-human agents and entities to life by engaging social cognition—and describes it as a type of ‘magical’ or imaginary thinking. It then contrasts this ability with dehumanizing people, describing the brain mechanisms enabling dehumanization, and the functions of withholding social cognition to people. It then considers extending social cognition to animals as a domain where the flexible nature of social cognition is revealed. Finally, it implicates explanation as a causal factor in intractable group conflict.

Keywords:   Explanation, Anthropomorphism, Dehumanization, Dehumanisation, Animal welfare, Veganism, Vegetarianism, Intractable group conflict, Group conflict

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