Hog in Sloth, Fox in Stealth: Man and Beast in Moral Thinking

  • John Benson
Part of the Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures book series


Human beings find themselves sharing the world with a great variety of other animals. Besides using them in various ways, we think about them and compare ourselves with them, and it is hard to envisage the difference it would make to our understanding of ourselves if they were not there. For one thing we should not have the concept of the human species, and that human beings should be thought of, however theoretically, as all belonging to one species is of momentous importance for morality. The existence of other species might be significant in that way, however, even if we did not pay much attention to them and even if more particular thoughts about or observations of them did not form part of the fabric of our moral thinking. It is with some particular ways in which other species enter our moral thinking and our thinking about morals that I intend to concern myself. There are three of these that I shall discuss: first, the use of animal characters in moral tales, secondly the description of human characteristics in terms of real or supposed analogies with the characteristics of beasts; and thirdly much more briefly the application to human beings of behaviour patterns established in studies of other animals.


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Copyright information

© The Royal Institute of Philosophy 1975

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  • John Benson

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