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What separates humans from animals?
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Animals and humans share many important attributes

In regard to physicality, behavior, and emotions, mankind is not distinct from the rest of the animal kingdom. On the contrary, we share many of the things that "make us human," from our social inclinations to our mental capacities, with animals.

The Argument

Admittedly, there are differences between humans and animals. Oftentimes, people argue that certain abilities such as making tools, being creative, or experiencing complex emotions set the human race apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. While these differences exist, they are irrelevant when attempting to distinguish humans from animals. After all, many animals have mental and physical attributes that others lack, but these differences do not make them fundamentally distinct from all other animals. From a scientific viewpoint, humans are animals. They exist in the same kingdom and have similar DNA. Other attempts to differentiate the two are largely based on arbitrary grounds. Simply put, there are far more similarities between humans and animals than there are differences. Though many argue that the human mind sets us apart from animals, the animal mind seems to function in many of the same ways, displaying their aptitude for reasoning, problem-solving, communication, and memory. For example, bees can communicate by "dancing" to show each other the location of certain flower patches, crows can comprehend volume displacement, and elephants can remember their family members after years of separation. Clearly, the human brain is not the only one capable of complex thought. Other people maintain that our ability to experience complex emotions makes humans unique, but evidence shows that this claim is also unfounded. After all, elephants appear to grieve for their dead relatives, dogs can experience shame when reprimanded by their owners, and humpback whales can feel empathy. Evidently, animals exhibit many of the physical, mental, and emotional characteristics that we have claimed as exclusively human traits. Because of this, we can arrive at the conclusion that any supposed distinction between the two groups is arbitrary.

Counter arguments

This argument minimizes the many differences between humans and animals, specifically the human mind's uniqueness. Our self-consciousness, tool creation, and aptitude for processes are far from irrelevant. In fact, they are crucial to differentiating between the two groups. Furthermore, they have allowed us to create the highly advanced society that we benefit from today.



[P1] There are no relevant, non-arbitrary differences between humans and animals. [P2] For this reason, humans and animals are the same.

Rejecting the premises

[P1] There are important differences between humans and animals.


This page was last edited on Saturday, 13 Jun 2020 at 16:11 UTC