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


Chapman & Huffman reject the notion that human beings are very different from other animals. The goal is to undermine the claim that human uniqueness and even superiority are reason enough to treat other animals badly. But evaluating human uniqueness for this purpose only plays into the hands of those who exploit invidious comparisons between us and other animals to justify mistreatment of the rest of the animal kingdom. What human uniqueness we may discover would still be no justification for how we behave toward other animals. We should also ask ourselves whether any human-centric criterion can be justification for determining who deserves moral regard. Is it possible, and even preferable, to think about who is entitled to our moral concern, and why, based upon criteria that are not human-centric?

Author Biography

Gwen J. Broude is Professor of Cognitive Science at Vassar College. Her research interests include the application of cross-cultural and evolutionary theory to the human mind and behavior. She also has an interest in phenomenological approaches to the mind. Website