IB Philosophy Core: Are we distinct from animals?

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  • Created by: Milly
  • Created on: 11-04-13 18:34
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  • Are we distinct from animals?
    • Characteristics we share with animals
      • Self consciousness
      • Knowledge of other minds
      • Creativity and aesthetic appreciation
      • Reason and problem solving
      • Ability to communicate through language and body language
      • Ability to feel emotions
    • Characteristics defined to humans
      • Level of communication
        • The hyoid bone allows us to articulate words when speaking and the larynx sits lower in the throat than chimps to enable human speech
      • Level of intellect
      • Greater awareness of morals and ethical responsibility
      • Ability to blush
      • Upright posture
      • Use of hands and grip
        • We have powerful grip and exceptional dexterity to hold and manipulate tools with
      • Control of fire
      • Long childhoods
      • Life after children
      • Desire for clothing due to very thin short hairs
      • Do these characteristics not just prove that we are characteristics that set us apart from other species, but we are still a type of animal
        • Birds are able to fly but that makes them not less of an animal, though others cannot fly
    • Does our moral status make us human?
      • No
        • Animals should have equal moral status because we all share a similar concept of pain - Utilitarianism shows that pain should be minimized. If animals feel pain then surely their pain should also be minimized.
        • We can not use our intellect to show that we have superior moral status as . Not everyone shares extremely high intellectual abilities eg young children and those suffering from mental disabilities
        • Both humans and animals live in different societies which determine their own moral rules. Therefore, moral status cannot be compared across different species
      • Yes
        • We are the only species to understand the definition of moral status and so only we can have this moral status
        • Some animals go against would we would deem moral. For instance some female spiders eat males spiders after mating
      • Descartes believed that animals are mere machines, so he concluded that they can feel no pain, reason, think or suffer
      • Bentham advocated utilitarianism so believed that it was acceptable to kill animals for food, as long as they felt no pain in the process
      • Nagel believed that it was incomparable as there is no way of appreciating what it is like to live as another creature
      • Singer believed that only humans enter into the social contract and so only they have moral status
      • Scruton believed  that animals interests should be satisfied. But only humans have duties and rights, like moral status
      • Kant believed that animals are not rational beings and so do not have moral status
    • Darwin's theory of evolution suggests that humans have developed from apes and before that, fish. Therefore, the distinction between humans and other animals becomes blurred
    • The Materialistic view of consciousness is that it is simple functions of the brain
      • Does not seem to explain the irrational and abstract beliefs we hold, for instance spirtuality
    • Will robots ever be classified as humans?
      • Do artificial implants make us less human?
      • Is a being only human if it is reproduced by a human


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