Colin A. Chapman and Michael A. Huffman, Why do we want to think humans are different?


Chapman & Huffman argue that the cognitive differences between humans and nonhuman animals do not make humans superior to animals. I suggest that humans have domain-general cognitive abilities that make them superior in causing uniquely complex changes in the world not caused by any other species. The ability to conceive of and articulate a claim of rights is an example. However, possession of superior cognitive ability does not entitle humans to superior moral status. It is sentience, not cognitive complexity, that is the basis for the assignment of rights and the protections under the law that accompany them.

Author Biography

Michael L. Woodruff is Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Sciences in the Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University. His current research interests include cognitive neuroscience and the philosophy of mind. Website