The Human Animal

Anthony Quinton

in Of Men and Manners

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199694556
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731938 | DOI:
The Human Animal

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This chapter addresses the question of how definite and how important the distinction between humans and nonhuman animals is. It begins with a survey of the very varied and often very close relations between them. It then discusses the ideas that men have souls; that men are, or that most of them, at any rate, sometimes or even often are, truly free agents, moved by will and not merely by instinct, on the one hand morally responsible for what they choose to do and, on the other hand, because of their freedom, not to be made predictable and manipulable by having their conduct explained by their nature and circumstances together with laws of human and social science; and that men alone are the appropriate objects of direct moral consideration, the only bearers of rights, the only moral ends in themselves. The chapter asks whether the actual differences between men and animals give an adequate foothold to the exclusive status accorded to human beings. It argues that in no case is the total exclusion of animals from the respect and consideration men are accustomed to giving themselves justified, although the differences that really exist between men and animals can be reasonably argued to have some qualifying consequences for the morality of our treatment of the latter. If that is right, there are, in the case of each of the interesting ideas involved, two possibilities. Either we can conclude that animals too have immortal souls, free wills, and moral rights. Or we can conclude that since they do not, we also do not.

Keywords: humans; nonhuman animals; men; immortal souls; mortal rights; free will

Chapter.  18273 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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