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74

Social contract One aspect (not the only valid aspect, but the one I'll be covering here) of looking at this is from the social contract angle. In essence, since we live in communities together with other humans (and have done so as long as homo sapiens exist) it makes sense to agree to avoid killing each other in most circumstances (e.g. capital punishment,...


40

Interesting and difficult question. I'm inclined to deny that a lion can act evilly (in killing) on the following grounds : An action is morally right (in the sense of deserving praise) only if the agent is capable of recognizing or judging that it is the morally right thing to do and of doing it because it is the moral right thing to do. Conversely : ...


25

You have the situation entirely backwards. It's not that we give humans special privileges but that we don't try to engineer the interactions of animals the same way we try to engineer the interactions of humans. That is, we exempt animals from having to comply with human-created rules because of humility and basic sanity. Think about what we do when a bear ...


25

There's no paradox here. Let A be the characteristic of having moral value. Let B be the characteristic of having the ability to recognize moral value. You have imposed A -> B. Which implies ~B -> ~A. Yet you observe that some people attribute A to those who have ~B. This is only a paradox if you hold the axiom A -> B. Drop this axiom and there's no ...


24

The problem with questions like this is that there is no universally agreed upon definition of 'evil'. You could try to reduce it to 'harm', but then you again run into troubles defining that, but at least it's easier to get people to agree on a working definition. The solution, when this actually matters, is not to get hung up on words like good and evil ...


23

IMO your question addresses an important ethical problem. First one can ask: Does human life have indeed innate value over that of other animals? In my opinion, the answer is no. Human life does not have such superior value. Because values do not exist in nature. Instead they result from our decision to attach respect and esteem to certain objects or to ...


20

Good and evil refer ultimately to a moral judgment: that you have an intent to do good or evil. It’s more difficult to ascribe intentionality to lower “orders” of creatures, and especially the cultural and religious sorts of intentionality associated with the ethical act. Could a paramecium have a “consciousness of guilt”? What about a fly? Dogs certainly ...


13

Innate or intrinsic value is a kind of value such that when it is possessed by something, it is possessed by it solely in virtue of its innate or intrinsic properties. (Ben Bradley, 'Two Concepts of Intrinsic Value', Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Vol. 9, No. 2 (Apr., 2006), pp. 111-130: 112.) To say that human beings have innate or intrinsic value, ...


13

Religion and philosophy are of course not the same thing, but there is a lot that overlaps, and given that for a lot of people in the world, religion has a profound effect on their personal philosophy, I think this answer is important, and deserves to be listed among the other answers. I won't go on and on defending it philosophically, as it rests on belief ...


10

A utilitarian might reject the premise of your question Viewing the world through the frame of "good" and "evil" is unhelpful. These are labels that discard a great deal of nuance for the sake of producing easy to understand categories that fit a simple narrative. The problem arises from the fact that the categories are not distinct, and many things are ...


9

One does not need to have a sense of morals to be sentient. Ethical practices aim to reduce suffering (?), which is present in all sentient life by definition. Sentient life does not have to understand that what is being done to them is wrong/right to suffer from it. So sentient life (are non-human animals sentient life?) can still be objects of ethics ...


8

Side note: This could be thought of a philosophy of mind question but as it reads, it seems more like an ethology question, or (animal) psychology question which may or may not be fit for CogSci. That is, it seems you are asking for scientific evidence/research that indicates animals display the same kind of behaviors humans do which indicate an ...


7

With your edit I will venture a guess as to a more specific question, which hopefully is similar to what you want to know: Are there any morally relevant features which all humans share and no non-human has? I emphasize "morally relevant" since it is a question for biology to list the anatomical differences, which is of course an important thing to do, ...


6

moral rights "Rights" aren't a moral or ethical category. They are a juridical category. to mourn To "mourn", on the other hand, is psychological, not moral or juridical, phenomenon. So, the "moral right to mourn" is a conflation of disparate concepts, which becomes meaningless at all three - juridical, moral, psychological - levels. Juridically, ...


6

Jacques Derrida addresses this in Of Grammatology, here quoting Rousseau discussing man as ignorant savage. (Same logic applies for lions.) It is not "just because something is instinctive" that one is absolved, but because he is incapable of reflection and so it is incapable of good or evil. Above all, let us not conclude, with Hobbes, that because man ...


6

Welcome user37552 I'd phrase my answer in terms of a moral community. You might say that only humans can belong to a moral community because only they can have moral agency, owe obligations, deserve moral praise or blame. Only subjects, you seem to imply, can belong to a moral community and only towards such subjects can we act in ways that are morally ...


5

It is a bit difficult to get at exactly what kind of answer you are hoping for (philosophical yet scientific, yet not biological?) but that being said: Without a doubt, humans shape their environment to a far, far greater extent than any other animal. While it is true that some animals have, from time to time, been witnessed making tools, these are rare ...


5

Why does human life have innate value over that of other animals? In my opinion, you just answered your own question. Observe: If you want the why of it answered in a more detailed and analytical sense, neuroscience research for xenophobic aggression in mammals or fauna in general is probably your best avenue. Here's a paper that reviewed it for Naked Mole ...


4

Of course there are significant, objective differences between humans and other animals. One of the most obvious is our capacity for language. Another, as Dave pointed out, is our visible impact on the planet. But then, there are significant, objective differences between animals of all kinds. The differences aren't hard to find, the question is whether ...


3

Actually, if you are interested in an answer to this question, Arthur Schopenhauer addresses it in a chapter of his book titled "Essays and Aphorisms"/or "parerga e paralipomena", under the name "On the Suffering of the World". Actually, that was the reason I came to this forum. See Page 45 of the book. In it, he argues that animals have a privilege over ...


3

Philosophy is constructed by various branches like biology and other scientific research. Without those branches, you simply can not formulate anything. So one would have to rely on those branches in order to make sense in philosophy. That said, there is absolutely nothing that can serve as proof of any difference between man and animal in a philosophical ...


3

"Rights" are a rather problematic concept. Let us first consider whether humans have any rights, and if so, how they get them and what it means to have them. One way to proceed is to identify some characteristic of humans--possessing a rational will, let's say--and then try to deduce from that what behaviors are acceptable. This leads to efforts like Kant'...


3

This answer is from a Judeo-Christian perspective, as that seems to be the basic perspective you're asking from. I don't know enough about the religions with reincarnation, and your assumptions about animals' lack of free will or rationality may not be true for them. Firstly, sin is generally considered to only be a category that applies to sapient beings: ...


3

Your question would seem to ask, “Why aren’t animal considered inherently evil?” Based on: If killing is ‘evil’ and a lion kills (instinctively for food and protection) that should make them ‘evil’. Only, over 80% of life on Earth consume other life forms. Would that make all of these life forms ‘evil’? The first, and most prominent source for the ...


3

You mention Peter Singer, who approaches the topic from a utilitarian rather than a right-based standpoint. Besides Animal Liberation (2nd ed., 1995), you might try: P. Singer, The Animal Liberation Movement: its Philosophy, its Achievements and its Future. ISBN 10: 1909798622 / ISBN 13: 9781909798625 Published by Active Distribution, London, 2019. P. ...


2

Perhaps it would be better to ask if anyone has any evidence of other creatures able to communicate about their method of thinking. Can they demonstrate traits of, or communicate about, metacognition? Since some apes have been taught to communicate on a somewhat sophisticated level enough to express lying, motivations, deceit, then are they able to express ...


2

I think that perhaps the biggest point here is that chemically identical but ethically "clean" dairy products could be developed using humane methods, and this would allow consumption with no ethical ramifications. However, that isn't immediately viable or what you're asking, so I've attempted to address your sub-points more closely. a) To borrow from ...


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