Almost all people believe that it is a crime to kill an innocent human, but not to kill an innocent tapeworm. And almost all people regard tapeworms as incapable of innocence in any case — not because they are always guilty, but because the distinction between innocent and guilty does not apply to them. They are the wrong kind of thing.
We, however, are the right kind of thing. So what kind is that? Do any other beings, animal or otherwise, belong to it? And what follows? These questions lie at the center of philosophical inquiry today, as they have since the ancient Greeks. In a thousand ways we distinguish people from the rest of nature, and build our life accordingly. We believe that people have rights, that they are sovereign over their lives, and that those who live by enslaving or abusing others are denying their own humanity. Surely there is a foundation for those beliefs, just as there is a foundation for all the moral, legal, artistic and spiritual traditions that take the distinctiveness of human life as their starting point. More.
The wisdom from “science” today is that the foundation of all that stuff is evolutionary psychology in a world where we did not evolve so as to perceive reality but did evolve so as to need coercion. Which is why we evolved to pay taxes to support all that.
No surprise that, as Michael Cook notes at MercatorNet:
The comments ran about 100:1 against Scruton and human exceptionalism: “my dog is much smarter and kinder than most people I know … People who look for differences between humans and non-humans remind me of the racists who look for differences between blacks and whites … The only thing special about human beings is our stunning arrogance and self-importance … Grow up. Get over it … Anyone who has lived with a dog knows that the other animals are just like us” and so on. More.
The question of whether humans matter much compared to tapeworms is likely to balloon in the 21st century. The Cool is backing the tapeworm.
See also: Nearly 50% Americans now think humans are not special
Roger Scruton helps Richard Dawkins’ “meme” find its way to the wastebasket
Roger Scruton: Missing the main problem with evolutionary psychology
Neuroscience: We are told: Brains have owners Yer darn tootin’ big data will not produce total understanding. What it will produce is generations of neuroscientists who think they have discovered things they have only imagined.
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