Appeal To Inherent Nature
A subset of Appeal to Nature
; if something is naturally predisposed to a certain act or state, it must be accepted. Snakes bite, bears maul, poisons kill, babies scream, sociopaths torture, and Nazis commit genocide
; but those are their natures, so we should not hold it against them.
This is usually a fallacy, but there are cases where it isn't. The key is consistency: if someone/something always reacts a particular way to a situation and always will, then this is fundamentally correct. For instance, a computer will always do what you tell it to do (although not necessarily what you want
it to do). Naturally, this is very difficult to do with people without implicitly denying that they are human or getting involved in tautologies: saying All Gays are Promiscuous
is offensive, but saying that all Portuguese speakers speak Portuguese
is stating the obvious
Used as one of the Jerk Justifications
. For when a man is appealing to his perverted nature, see I'm a Man, I Can't Help It
Folklore and Mythology
- In issue #3 of IDW's Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters series, the No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Lady Gaga said that humanity shouldn't hold it against giant monsters for rampaging and destroying cities; it's just what they do, and it would be wrong to kill them for it.
- In the form of The Tale of the Scorpion and the Turtle, it dates back to an ancient Sanskrit collection of folklore that was first translated into English in 1570.
A scorpion, being a very poor swimmer, asked a turtle to carry him on his back across a river. "Are you mad?" exclaimed the turtle. "You'll sting me while I'm swimming and I'll drown."
"My dear turtle," laughed the scorpion, "if I were to sting you, you would drown and I would go down with you. Now where is the sense in that?"
"You're right!" cried the turtle. "Hop on!" The scorpion climbed aboard and halfway across the river gave the turtle a mighty sting. As they both sank to the bottom, the turtle resignedly said, "Do you mind if I ask you something? You said there'd be no sense in your stinging me. Why did you do it?"
"It has nothing to do with sense," the drowning scorpion sadly replied. "It's just my nature to sting."
- This trope does get a twist in Legend of the Five Rings, however, as Shinsei the sage tells Bayushi of the Scorpion clan a version with a different ending (it also used a frog rather than a turtle): "Little frog, I can swim."
- A similar tale about a jackal and a camel uses this trope twice. The jackal wants to get at some tasty crabs on the other side of the river, but he's not a strong enough swimmer to beat the current. A camel comes along to get at the sugarcane that's also across the river, and agrees to ferry the jackal across. So the jackal eats his fill, but being much smaller than the camel he finishes before the camel has a chance to get more than a couple of mouthfuls; and, being full and happy, he prances about, yipping at the top of his jackal lungs, alerting the farmers to his presence and that of the camel. As the camel is swimming back across, he demands, "What the hell was that?!" "Sorry," says the jackal, "when I'm full I just feel like dancing around and yapping. It's just how I am." So the camel starts rolling over and over in the river. "What are you doing?!" cries the jackal. "Oh, sorry," says the camel, "But whenever I finish eating something I just feel like rolling over and over and over. It's just how I am."
- In Jingo, "71-hour Ahmed" points out that if this is a valid excuse for people to do bad things, then it's an equally valid excuse for those with a sense of justice to punish them:
Oh, no doubt the man would suggest there were mitigating circumstances, that he had an unhappy childhood or was driven by Compulsive Well-Poisoning Disorder. But I have a compulsion to behead cowardly murderers.
- Akma from "Earthbound" of the Homecoming Series teaches his followers that the way God wants them to act is whatever way they feel compelled. If you are hungry, it is because God wants you to eat. If you want to have sex, it is because God wants you to produce children. Therefore, if you feel repulsed by the company of "diggers" (a species of rodent-people used as an allegory for an oppressed race), then you have every right to exile them from the empire.
- In The Dark Tower series, Eddie uses a combination of Appeal To Audacity and Logic Bomb to disable a malevolent AI with silly and nonsensical riddles. Roland, a very serious and straightforward Straight Man who had previously derided this tactic, is forced to apologize. Eddie waves it away saying that "you can't help your nature."
- In a crossover between media and real life, this fallacy often shows up on reality shows, with at least one contestant each season declaring proudly "That's just who I am." when called out for acting like a bigot, an asshat, or a bitch.
- When Aeryn in Farscape says that John Crichton is obsessed with sex, he says, "I'm a guy!"
- In the ITV series Primeval, a character who has been raising an orphaned sabretooth since it was a cub insists that the now fully grown cat would never attack her. Which, naturally, it does. This is Truth in Television for the caretakers of dangerous wild animals.
- Summarized quite nicely in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine by the 217th Rule of Acquisition: "You can't free a fish from water."
- Mary in Downton Abbey, who argues that she's inherently contrary and that it would be against her character to want to marry anyone who anyone else wanted her to marry.
- The general Family-Unfriendly Aesop of Malcolm in the Middle, that "Life is unfair", is really only possible because of this trope. The sub-Aesop is that there will always be authority figures in your lives that are unfair, and there's nothing you can do about it...nor should you, because that's just who they are. This, of course, means that the authority figures on this show can behave like jerks and use this justification as an excuse to avoid having to change their behavior; after all, it is in authority figures nature to be unfair, so they are not to be subject to criticism when they behave so. (Also, when Malcolm calls out the various adults on using this excuse, the show wants us to think Malcolm is being an Emo Teen.)
- One of the most universally despised yet virtually ubiquitous excuses for bad behavior in role-playing games is "I'm just doing what my character would do" (and its little brother "I'm just acting my alignment"). As if once one has written "Chaotic Neutral" on his character sheet (through no fault of his own, presumably), it would be a sin against role-playing not to do something random, disruptive, and, if possible, stupid every now and then. Because that's what Chaotic Neutral people do! And it's not just players - more than one party has been betrayed and attacked by an NPC they were currently in the process of helping simply because the GM noticed its race's alignment was evil, and why would an evil person pass up an opportunity to do something nasty?
- The most infamous example would have to be the Paladin class in Dungeons & Dragons, holy warriors who were required to be Lawful Good. So many players - many of whom were perfectly capable of playing non-paladin Lawful Good characters as reasonable individuals - felt that the only acceptable characterization for a paladin was the aggressively evangelistic Knight Templar whose only possible reaction to any situation was to demand everyone share his beliefs and kill anyone who didn't immediately fall in line, so that the phrase "Lawful Stupid" was coined to describe the class as a whole. The 4th Edition of D&D removed the alignment restriction, but many players familiar with earlier editions still act that way, because "that's just how paladins are."
- The obvious problem with applying the trope under these particular conditions is of course that a tabletop RPG character is simply a figment of its creator's/controller's imagination with no independent existence or "inherent nature" in the first place. There are few if any claims of "I can't help it, it's my character's fault!" that cannot be countered with a variation on the question "Well, who wanted to play him/her that way?".
- Used in the Extended Cut ending of Mass Effect 3, whereupon Shepard argues against the logic that the Catalyst chose to solve the problem of the Robot War by building robots that specifically start Robot Wars. The Catalyst refutes this statement by saying that its creations are only doing what they were programmed to do, and thus are not truly interested in war. Of course, seeing as they are his creations, the Catalyst is basically saying that the war occurs because organic civilizations refuse to sit back and allow themselves to be annihilated. Shepard can call him out on this.
- But the Catalyst has a justification to being called out on, as well: his logic is that his machines aren't actually killing organics, they're preserving organics by grinding them into goo and preserving them in machine form, so their civilizations can live on in the form of knowledge. So, the Catalyst argues, it's not hypocritical to prevent synthetics from killing organics using these methods because he doesn't violate his own principle: he preserves organics, which, to him, isn't quite the same thing.
- It's rather poignant that Shepard can convince a Reaper that they are the same thing. It shuts down when it realizes it is nothing more than a twisted mass grave.
- Often used in World of Warcraft on role-playing servers by trolls. "I am role playing. My character is a jerk!"