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What is counterintuitive: religious cognition and natural expectation

Russell, Yvan I. and Gobet, Fernand (2013) What is counterintuitive: religious cognition and natural expectation. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 4 (4). pp. 715-749. ISSN 1878-5158

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s13164-013-0160-5

Abstract

What is 'counterintuitive'? There is general agreement that it refers to a violation of previously held knowledge, but the precise definition seems to vary with every author and study. The aim of this paper is to deconstruct the notion of 'counterintuitive' and provide a more philosophically rigorous definition congruent with the history of psychology, recent experimental work in 'minimally counterintuitive' concepts, the science vs. religion debate, and the developmental and evolutionary background of human beings. We conclude that previous definitions of counterintuitiveness have been flawed and did not resolve the conflict between a believer's conception of the supernatural entity (an atypical "real kind") and the non-believer's conception (empty name/fictional). Furthermore, too much emphasis has been placed on the universality and (presumed) innateness of intuitive concepts (and hence the criteria for what is counterintuitive)-and far too little attention paid to learning and expertise. We argue that many putatively universal concepts are not innate, but mostly learned and defeasible-part of a religious believer's repertoire of expert knowledge. Nonetheless, the results from empirical studies about the memorability of counterintuitive concepts have been convincing and it is difficult to improve on existing designs and methodologies. However, future studies in counterintuitive concepts need to embed their work in research about context effects, typicality, the psychology of learning and expertise (for example, the formation of expert templates and range defaults), with more attention to the sources of knowledge (direct and indirect knowledge) and a better idea of what 'default' knowledge really is.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://link.springer.com/journal/13164
Additional Information: © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
Divisions: CPNSS
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2019 10:24
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2020 07:07
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/102320

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