Chapter

The Cultural Premises

Paola Cavalieri

in The Animal Question

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780195143805
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833122 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195143809.003.0001
The Cultural Premises

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Focuses on the recent cultural changes that have contributed most to the revival of the debate on the animal question. The first area I consider is the political discussion of the principle of human equality; in this area the prohibition both of group discrimination and of hierarchies based on perfectionism paved the way to the idea that equality cannot be confined to our own species. The second area is bioethics, in which the criticisms of the sanctity‐of‐life doctrine, by eliminating the ambiguity between being human in the biological sense and being human in the philosophical sense, deprived mere species membership of any moral relevance. Finally, I turn to the disciplines that are today grouped together under the label of cognitive sciences – a field that has produced a wealth of evidence that, contra any behavioristic beliefs, animal minds not only do exist, but are much more like human minds than we ever thought.

Keywords: bioethics; cognitive ethology; equal consideration; human equality; interspecific communication; primatology; sanctity of life

Chapter.  8131 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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