Exceptionalism is the perception or belief that a species, country, society, institution, movement, individual, or time period is "exceptional" (i.e., unusual or extraordinary). The term carries the implication that the referent is superior in some way, whether specified or not. Although the idea appears to have developed with respect to an era, today the term is particularly applied in national or regional contexts. Other uses include medical and genetic exceptionalism.
The German romantic philosopher-historians, especially Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803) and Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762–1814), dwelt on the theme of uniqueness in the late 18th century. They de-emphasized the political state and instead emphasized the uniqueness of the Volk, comprising the whole people, their languages and traditions. Each nation, considered as a cultural entity with its own distinctive history, possessed a "national spirit", or "soul of the people" (in German: Volksgeist). This idea had a strong influence in the growth of nationalism in 19th-century European lands—especially in ones ruled by élites from somewhere else.
Claims of exceptionality have been made for many countries, including the United States, Australia, France, Germany, Greece, India, Pakistan, Imperial Japan, Iran, Israel, North Korea, South Africa, Spain, Britain, the USSR, the European Union, and Thailand. Historians have added many other cases, including historic empires such as China, the Ottoman Empire, ancient Rome, and ancient India, along with a wide range of minor kingdoms in history.
Belief in exceptionalism can represent erroneous thought analogous to historicism in that it overemphasizes peculiarities in an analysis and ignores or downplays meaningful comparisons. A group may assert exceptionalism in order to exaggerate the appearance of difference, to invoke a wider latitude of action, and to avoid recognition of similarities that would reduce perceived justifications. This can be an example of special pleading, a form of spurious argumentation that ignores relevant bases for meaningful comparisons.
Exceptionalism can represent an error analogous to historicism in assuming that only peculiarities are relevant to analysis, while overlooking meaningful comparisons. "[W]hat is seemingly exceptional in one country may be found in other countries."
In ideologically-driven debates, a group may assert exceptionalism, with or without the term, in order to exaggerate the appearance of difference, perhaps to create an atmosphere permissive of a wider latitude of action, and to avoid recognition of similarities that would reduce perceived justifications. If unwarranted, this represents an example of special pleading, a form of spurious argumentation that ignores relevant bases for meaningful comparison.
The term "exceptionalism" can imply criticism of a tendency to remain separate from others. For example, the reluctance of the United States government to join various international treaties is sometimes called "exceptionalist".
In African American exceptionalism, Black U.S. culture becomes the defining culture for Blackness in the rest of the Diaspora. Inside the United States, it is difficult for Black people to define their Blackness because with such a long history of Blackness in the United States, it is already so clearly defined for them. The problem with this is in the notion of Black exceptionalism there is an underlying assumption that there exists a single and one-dimensional manifestation of blackness and those outside of this 'standard' of Black living are seen as exceptional to these rules. More recently there has been a move to discuss internal differences inside the Black community.
Use of the term "HIV exceptionalism" implies that AIDS is a contagious disease that is or should be treated differently from other contagions or entails benefits not available to those suffering from other diseases.
Genetic exceptionalism is a policy program that medicalizes genetic information. Like the exceptionalism surrounding HIV testing, genetic exceptionalism is based on the belief that the average person needs a licensed health professional for guidance and support through the discovery of information with health implications, even if this information is common knowledge, such as that the person has red hair, which is associated with a higher risk of sunburns and skin cancer. In countries with strong genetic exceptionalism laws, permission from a physician is necessary to obtain information about one's genes.
Agricultural law, sometimes referred to as Ag Law, deals with such legal issues as agricultural infrastructure, seed, water, fertilizer, pesticide use, agricultural finance, agricultural labour, agricultural marketing, agricultural insurance, farming rights, land tenure and tenancy system and law on Agricultural processing and rural industry. With implementation of modern technologies, issues including credit, intellectual property, trade and commerce related to agricultural products are dealt within the sphere of this law.
Simply put, agricultural law is the study of the special laws and regulations that apply to the production and sale of agricultural products. "Agricultural exceptionalism," i.e., the use of legal exceptions to protect the agricultural industry, is pervasive, worldwide. American law schools and legal scholars first recognized agricultural law as a discipline in the 1940s when law schools at Yale, Harvard, Texas, and Iowa explored and initiated agricultural law courses. These early efforts were short-lived, however, and agricultural law as a distinct discipline did not resurface for three decades. In 1979, a scholarly journal, The Agricultural Law Journal was initiated. In 1980, the American Agricultural Law Association was formed and an advanced law degree program, the LL.M. Program in Agricultural Law was founded at the University of Arkansas School of Law. In 1981, a fifteen volume Agricultural Law Treatise was published and in 1985, the first law school casebook, Agricultural Law: Cases and Materials was published by West Publishing.In recent years, agricultural law studies have expanded to incorporate a wider consideration of the impact of agricultural production, including issues of environmental law, sustainability, animal welfare, and food law and policy. Reflecting this expanded perspective, in 2009, the LL.M. Program in Agricultural Law at Arkansas changed its name to the LL.M Program in Agricultural and Food Law. In 2010, the second law school textbook was published with the title, Food, Farming & Sustainability: Readings in Agricultural Law. And, in 2012, the American Association of Law Schools changed the name of its Agricultural Law section to Agricultural and Food Law. The emerging discipline of food law & policy traces its roots to the discipline of agricultural law as well as tradition food and drug law.American Dream
The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States, the set of ideals (democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, as well as an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.The American Dream is rooted in the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims that "all men are created equal" with the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Also, the U.S. Constitution promotes similar freedom, in the Preamble: to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity".American exceptionalism
American exceptionalism is an ideology holding the United States as unique among nations in positive or negative connotations, with respect to its ideas of democracy and personal freedom.Though the concept has no formal definition, there are some themes common to various conceptions of the idea. One is the history of the United States is different from other nations. In this view, American exceptionalism stems from the American Revolution, becoming what political scientist Seymour Martin Lipset called "the first new nation" and developing the American ideology of "Americanism", based on liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, republicanism, democracy, and laissez-faire economics. This ideology itself is often referred to as "American exceptionalism." Another theme is the idea that the U.S. has a unique mission to transform the world. Abraham Lincoln stated in the Gettysburg address (1863), Americans have a duty to ensure "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Another theme is the sense the United States' history and mission give it a superiority over other nations.
The theory of the exceptionalism of the U.S. has developed over time and can be traced to many sources. French political scientist and historian Alexis de Tocqueville was the first writer to describe the country as "exceptional" in 1831 and 1840. The actual phrase "American Exceptionalism" was originally coined by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin as a critique of a revisionist faction of American Communists who argued that the American political climate was unique, making it an 'exception' to certain elements of Marxist theory. U.S. President Ronald Reagan is often credited with having crystallized this ideology in recent decades. Political scientist Eldon Eisenach argues in the twenty-first century American exceptionalism has come under attack from the postmodern left as a reactionary myth: "The absence of a shared purposes ratified in the larger sphere of liberal-progressive public policy....beginning with the assumption of American exceptionalism as a reactionary myth."Americentrism
Americentrism is the tendency among some Americans to assume the culture of the United States is more important than those of other countries or to judge foreign cultures based on the standards within their own. It refers to the practice of viewing the world from an overly US-focused perspective, with an implied belief, either consciously or subconsciously, in the preeminence of American culture.The term is not to be confused with American exceptionalism, which is the assertion that the United States is qualitatively different from other nations and is often accompanied by the notion that the United States has superiority over every other nation.Anthropocentrism
Anthropocentrism (; from Greek Ancient Greek: ἄνθρωπος, ánthrōpos, "human being"; and Ancient Greek: κέντρον, kéntron, "center") is the belief that human beings are the most important entity in the universe. Anthropocentrism interprets or regards the world in terms of human values and experiences. The term can be used interchangeably with humanocentrism, and some refer to the concept as human supremacy or human exceptionalism. Anthropocentrism is considered to be profoundly embedded in many modern human cultures and conscious acts. It is a major concept in the field of environmental ethics and environmental philosophy, where it is often considered to be the root cause of problems created by human action within the ecosphere.
However, many proponents of anthropocentrism state that this is not necessarily the case: they argue that a sound long-term view acknowledges that a healthy, sustainable environment is necessary for humans and that the real issue is shallow anthropocentrism.City upon a Hill
"A City upon a Hill" is a phrase from the parable of Salt and Light in Jesus's Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:14, he tells his listeners, "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."Conservatism in the United States
American conservatism is a broad system of political beliefs in the United States that is characterized by respect for American traditions, republicanism, support for Judeo-Christian values, moral universalism, free markets and free trade, anti-communism, individualism, advocacy of American exceptionalism, and a defense of Western culture from the perceived threats posed by socialism, authoritarianism, and moral relativism. Liberty is a core value, with a particular emphasis on strengthening the free market. American conservatives consider individual liberty—within the bounds of American values—as the fundamental trait of democracy; this perspective contrasts with that of modern American liberals, who generally place a greater value on equality and social justice and emphasize the need for state intervention to achieve these goals. American conservatives believe in limiting government in size and scope by its constitution, and in a federal balance of national government and states' rights. Apart from some libertarians, they tend to favor strong action in areas they believe to be government's legitimate scope, particularly national defense and law enforcement. Social conservatives oppose abortion and favor restricting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender LGBT rights, while privileging traditional marriage and allowing localities to require school prayer.American conservatism, like most American political ideologies, originates from republicanism, which rejected aristocratic and monarchical government and upheld the principles of the United States Declaration of Independence ("All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness") and the United States Constitution (which established a federal republic under the rule of law). Conservative philosophy is also derived in part from the classical liberal tradition of the 18th and 19th centuries, which advocated for laissez-faire economics (also called economic freedom and deregulation).Historians such as Patrick Allitt and political theorists such as Russell Kirk argue that the conservative tradition has played a major role in American politics and culture since 1776. However, they stress that an organized conservative movement with beliefs that differ from those of other American political parties has played a key role in politics only since the 1950s. The recent movement is based in the Republican Party, however some Southern Democrats were also important figures early in the movement's history, especially regarding crime control and labor unions, though most Southern Democrats were liberal.Criticism of United States foreign policy
Criticism of United States foreign policy encompasses a wide range of opinions and views on failures and shortcoming of United States policies and actions. There is a partly-held sense in America which views America as qualitatively different from other nations and therefore cannot be judged by the same standards as other countries; this belief is sometimes termed American exceptionalism and can be traced to the so-called Manifest destiny. American exceptionalism has widespread implications and transcribes into disregard to the international norms, rules and laws in U.S. foreign policy. For example, the U.S. refused to ratify a number of important international treaties such as Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, and American Convention on Human Rights; did not join the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention; and routinely conducts drone attacks and cruise missile strikes around the globe. American exceptionalism is sometimes linked with hypocrisy; for example, the U.S. keeps a huge stockpile of nuclear weapons while urging other nations not to get them, and justifies that it can make an exception to a policy of non-proliferation.Cultural exception
Cultural exception (French: l'exception culturelle) is a political concept introduced by France in General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations in 1993 to treat culture differently from other commercial products.
In other words, its purpose is to consider cultural goods and services as exceptions in international treaties and agreements especially with the World Trade Organization (WTO). Its goals are to point out that States are sovereign as far as limitation of culture free trade is concerned in order to protect and promote their artists and other elements of their culture. Concretely, it can be seen through protectionist measures limiting the diffusion of foreign artistic work (quotas) or through subventions distributed according to the country cultural policy.Genetic exceptionalism
Genetic exceptionalism is the belief that genetic information is special and so must be treated differently from other types of medical data or other personally identifiable information.
For example, patients are able to obtain information about their blood pressure without involving any medical professionals, but to obtain information about their genetic profile might require an order from a physician and expensive counseling sessions. Disclosure of an individual's genetic information or its meaning, such as telling a woman with red hair that she has a higher risk of skin cancer, has been legally restricted in some places, as providing medical advice.That policy approach has been taken by state legislatures to safeguard individuals' genetic information in the United States from individuals, their families, their employers, and the government. The approach builds upon the existing protection required of general health information provided by such laws as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.God's Own Country
God's Own Country, is a phrase meaning an area, region or country supposedly favoured by God, that was first used to describe the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland, and has subsequently been used to refer to various places, including Australia, Canada, England (Cornwall, Surrey, Yorkshire, Northumberland), United States, New Zealand, Indian state of Kerala, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.HIV exceptionalism
HIV exceptionalism is the term given to the trend to treat HIV/AIDS in law and policy differently from other diseases, including other sexually transmitted, infectious, lethal diseases. The term first appeared in print in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1991.HIV exceptionalists emphasize the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, particularly their rights to privacy, confidentiality, and autonomy. They also believe that all people seeking an HIV test always require special services, such as counseling with every HIV test, special informed consent paperwork, and guaranteed anonymity in public health reporting. In many places, it is illegal to disclose HIV test results over the phone or over the Internet.
That is motivated partly by a desire to reduce the likelihood of suicide in recently diagnosed people. Other goals include encouraging people to consent to the test by, for example, preventing the government from associating a positive test result with an identifiable individual and preventing other healthcare professionals from learning that the individual has ever been tested, even if the test result is negative.
As treatment regimes, understanding of the pandemic, and awareness about HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination evolve, more scholars argue for an end to HIV exceptionalism. HIV exceptionalism in testing increases bureaucratic burden, reduces the availability of HIV testing, and stigmatizes it as something "special," rather than a normal part of healthcare.Hipster racism
Hipster racism is engaging in behaviors typically regarded as racist and defending them as being performed ironically or satirically. Rachel Dubrofsky and Megan W. Wood have described it as being supposedly "too hip and self-aware to actually mean the racist stuff one expresses". This might include wearing blackface and other performances of stereotyped African Americans, use of the word nigger, and appropriating cultural dress. Talia Meer argues that hipster racism is rooted in what she calls "hipster exceptionalism", meaning "the idea that something ordinarily offensive or prejudiced is miraculously transformed into something clever, funny and socially relevant, by the assertion that said ordinarily offensive thing is ironic or satirical." As Leslie A. Hahner and Scott J. Varda described it, "those participating in acts of hipster racism understand those acts as racist when practiced by others, but rationalize their own racist performances through a presumed exceptionalism."Carmen Van Kerckhove coined the term hipster racism in the article "The 10 Biggest Race and Pop Culture Trends of 2006", citing "Kill Whitey" Parties and "Blackface Jesus" as examples. "Kill Whitey" parties, as described by The Washington Post, were parties held for hipsters in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, by Jeremy Parker, a disc jockey who goes by the name The Pumpsta, in an attempt to "kill the whiteness inside". These were parties in which white hipsters mocked the black hip-hop industry, and essentially a part of African-American culture, for the sake of irony. Van Kerckhove also regarded the use of blackface by white people and the normalization and acceptance of such use from other individuals as hipster racism. Van Kerckhove contends, quoting Debra Dickerson, that the use of blackface by individuals such as these was an effort to satirize political correctness and racism.Matt Pearce of the Los Angeles Times characterized the appropriation of cultural artifacts as fashion without recognizing the significance of the article as hipster racism. Examples include wearing Native American headdresses, or more specifically, Urban Outfitters selling clothes with Navajo and other Aboriginal and African tribal prints without giving tribute, acknowledgement, or compensation. Television producer Lena Dunham was described as a hipster racist when Dunham issued a statement defending a male colleague who was accused of rape by a woman of mixed race.Manifest destiny
In the 19th century, manifest destiny was a widely held belief in the United States that its settlers were destined to expand across North America. There are three basic themes to manifest destiny:
The special virtues of the American people and their institutions
The mission of the United States to redeem and remake the west in the image of agrarian America
An irresistible destiny to accomplish this essential dutyHistorian Frederick Merk says this concept was born out of "a sense of mission to redeem the Old World by high example ... generated by the potentialities of a new earth for building a new heaven".Historians have emphasized that "manifest destiny" was a contested concept—pre-civil war Democrats endorsed the idea but many prominent Americans (such as Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and most Whigs) rejected it. Historian Daniel Walker Howe writes, "American imperialism did not represent an American consensus; it provoked bitter dissent within the national polity ... Whigs saw America's moral mission as one of democratic example rather than one of conquest."Newspaper editor John O'Sullivan is generally credited with coining the term manifest destiny in 1845 to describe the essence of this mindset, which was a rhetorical tone; however, the unsigned editorial titled "Annexation" in which it first appeared was arguably written by journalist and annexation advocate Jane Cazneau. The term was used by Democrats in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico and it was also used to divide half of Oregon with the United Kingdom. But manifest destiny always limped along because of its internal limitations and the issue of slavery, says Merk. It never became a national priority. By 1843, former U.S. President John Quincy Adams, originally a major supporter of the concept underlying manifest destiny, had changed his mind and repudiated expansionism because it meant the expansion of slavery in Texas.Merk concluded:
From the outset Manifest Destiny—vast in program, in its sense of continentalism—was slight in support. It lacked national, sectional, or party following commensurate with its magnitude. The reason was it did not reflect the national spirit. The thesis that it embodied nationalism, found in much historical writing, is backed by little real supporting evidence.Moral diplomacy
Moral diplomacy is a form of diplomacy proposed by US President Woodrow Wilson in his 1912 election. Moral diplomacy is the system in which support is given only to countries whose beliefs are analogous to that of the nation. This promotes the growth of the nation's ideals and damages nations with different ideologies.
It was used by Woodrow Wilson to support countries with democratic governments and to economically injure non-democratic countries (seen as possible threats to the U.S.). He also hoped to increase the number of democratic nations, particularly in Latin America.Nicaraguan exceptionalism
Nicaraguan exceptionalism (Spanish: Excepcionalismo Nicaragüense) is a belief that Nicaragua is an exceptional nation, different from its Central American neighbors, despite shared history in the Federal Republic of Central America and regional integration in the Central American Integration System. This concept differs from the exceptionalism of other nations primarily as its basis rests solely upon the actions and institutions implemented since the Sandanista government took power in the 1979 revolution, and again in 2006 after passing power to the National Opposition Union. The difference here is, most nationalist claims to exceptionalism originate from the founding of nations and/or the development of their cultures due to long histories.
The widely regarded exception within the current panorama of dystopian violence afflicting contemporary Central America, Nicaragua is often hailed as "the safest (sano) country in Latin America (despite also being the poorest)". Other exceptionalism claims include the concept that Nicaragua is highly resistant to drug trafficking as compared even to richer neighbors like Costa Rica and Panama. Even Western media have drawn on this notion in reporting on why Nicaraguan children are not migrating to the United States in the 2014 American immigration crisis to flee drug trafficking violence (despite that there is heavy Nicaraguan immigration to neighboring Costa Rica).Sonderweg
Sonderweg (German: [ˈzɔndɐˌveːk], "special path") identifies the theory in German historiography that considers the German-speaking lands or the country Germany itself to have followed a course from aristocracy to democracy unlike any other in Europe.
The modern school of thought by that name arose early during World War II as a consequence of the rise of Nazi Germany. In consequence of the scale of the devastation wrought on Europe by Nazi Germany, the Sonderweg theory of German history has progressively gained a following inside and outside Germany, especially since the late 1960s. In particular, its proponents argue that the way Germany developed over the centuries virtually ensured the evolution of a social and political order along the lines of Nazi Germany. In their view, German mentalities, the structure of society, and institutional developments followed a different course in comparison with the other nations of the West, which had a normal development of their histories. The German historian Heinrich August Winkler wrote about the question of there being a Sonderweg: "For a long time, educated Germans answered it in the positive, initially by laying claim to a special German mission, then, after the collapse of 1945, by criticizing Germany's deviation from the West. Today, the negative view is predominant. Germany did not, according to the now prevailing opinion, differ from the great European nations to an extent that would justify speaking of a 'unique German path'. And, in any case, no country on earth ever took what can be described as the 'normal path'".Thai exceptionalism
Thai exceptionalism is the belief that Thailand is an exceptional country with an exceptional culture. "This is the view that Thailand is a special country with unique characteristics that cannot be found in other countries. This view is held by many Thais, particularly the elite...Among unique ideas held are that Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to be colonized; its elaborate, refined, and esteemed system of monarchy...it's a country minimally dependent on imported food..." Other exceptional claims relate to complexity of naming systems and Thai language and to the assumption that violence is rare despite numerous coups d'état and a long list of massacres.
Not all Thai characteristics are good. Thailand is a nation of lawbreakers according to Mechai Viravaidya, the renowned condom crusader.Wesley J. Smith
Wesley J. Smith (born 1949) is an American lawyer and author, a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute's Center on Human Exceptionalism, a politically conservative non-profit think tank, best known for its advocacy of intelligent design (ID). He is also a consultant for the Patients Rights Council. Smith is known for his criticism of assisted suicide and utilitarian bioethics.
Smith has authored or co-authored fourteen books. He formerly collaborated with consumer advocate Ralph Nader, and has been published in regional and national outlets such as The New York Times, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, the New York Post, and others. He is also well known for his blog, "Human Exceptionalism", hosted by National Review, which advances his theory of "human exceptionalism" and defends intrinsic human dignity. He is a critic of those he labels "mainstream" bioethicists such as Peter Singer, Julian Savulescu, Jacob M. Appel, and R. Alta Charo. He has also been highly critical of science writer Matt Ridley.