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Figdor, Carrie. The Psychological Speciesism of Humanism
2020, Philosophical Studies 178: 1545–1569
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Carrie Figdor
Abstract: Humanists argue for assigning the highest moral status to all humans over any non-humans directly or indirectly on the basis of uniquely superior human cognitive abilities. They may also claim that humanism is the strongest position from which to combat racism, sexism, and other forms of within-species discrimination. I argue that changing conceptual foundations in comparative research and discoveries of advanced cognition in many non-human species reveal humanism’s psychological speciesism and its similarity with common justifications of within-species discrimination.

Comment: This paper argues against the idea that human cognitive capacities justify higher moral status for humans over nonhuman animals. It also argues that this justification for human moral superiority is structurally the same as a common justification for the superiority (moral and otherwise) of some human groups over others (such as in sexism or racism).

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