Journal of Animal Ethics 6 (1):54-66 (2016)

Cheryl (C.E.) Abbate
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
While Aristotle’s proposition that "Man is by nature a political animal" is often assumed to entail that, according to Aristotle, nonhuman animals are not political, some Aristotelian scholars suggest that Aristotle is only committed to the claim that man is more of a political animal than any other nonhuman animal. I argue that even this thesis is problematic, as contemporary research in cognitive ethology reveals that many social nonhuman mammals are, in fact, political in the Aristotelian sense, as they possess a sense of both general and special justice. Keeping this in mind, I conclude that some nonhuman animal communities very well might be identified as highly political communities, leading us to question whether it is really the case that humans are more political than socially complex, group-living nonhuman animals.
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