In Cognitive Kin, Moral Strangers?, Judith Benz-Schwarzburg reveals the scope and relevance of cognitive kinship between humans and non-human animals. She presents a wide range of empirical studies on culture, language and theory of mind in animals and then leads us to ask why such complex socio-cognitive abilities in animals matter. Her focus is on ethical theory as well as on the practical ways in which we use animals. Are great apes maybe better described as non-human persons? Should we really use dolphins as entertainers or therapists? Benz-Schwarzburg demonstrates how much we know already about animals’ capabilities and needs and how this knowledge should inform the ways in which we treat animals in captivity and in the wild.
Texts and Contexts
Gregory F. Tague
Evolution and Human Culture argues that values, beliefs, and practices are expressions of individual and shared moral sentiments. Much of our cultural production stems from what in early hominins was a caring tendency, both the care to share and a self-care to challenge others. Topics cover prehistory, mind, biology, morality, comparative primatology, art, and aesthetics. The book is valuable to students and scholars in the arts, including moral philosophers, who would benefit from reading about scientific developments that impact their fields. For biologists and social scientists the book provides a window into how scientific research contributes to understanding the arts and humanities. The take-home point is that culture does not transcend nature; rather, culture is an evolved moral behavior.