Naturalizing cruelty

Biology and Philosophy 24 (1):21–34 (2009)
Abstract
Cruelty is widely regarded to be a uniquely human trait. This follows from a standard definition of cruelty as involving the deliberate infliction of suffering together with the empirical claim that humans are unique in their ability to attribute suffering (or any mental state) to other creatures. In this paper I argue that this definition is not optimum for the purposes of scientific inquiry. I suggest that its intuitive appeal stems from our abhorrence of cruelty, and our corresponding desire to define cruelty in such a way that it is almost always morally wrong. Scientifically speaking this is an arbitrary condition that inhibits our attempt to study cruelty as a natural phenomenon. I propose a fully naturalized definition of cruelty, one that considerably expands the range of creatures and behaviors that may be conceived as cruel.
Keywords Philosophy   Evolutionary Biology   Philosophy of Biology
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10539-008-9120-3
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 27,636
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 2004 - Clarendon Press.
Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 1651 - Dover Publications.
Cruelty and Liberalism.John Kekes - 1996 - Ethics 106 (4):834-844.
Cruelty's Utility: The Evolution of Same-Species Killing.Malcolm Potts - 2006 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (3):238-238.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Public Response to Media Coverage of Animal Cruelty.Catherine M. Tiplady, Deborah-Anne B. Walsh & Clive J. C. Phillips - 2013 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 26 (4):869-885.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Punishing Cruelly: Punishment, Cruelty, and Mercy.Paulo Barrozo - 2007 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 2 (1):67-84.
Cruelty: A Dispositional or a Situational Behavior in Man?Mika Haritos-Fatouros - 2006 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (3):230-230.
A Murky Portrait of Human Cruelty.Albert Bandura - 2006 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (3):225-226.
Predation Versus Competition and the Importance of Manipulable Causes.Katy Tapper - 2006 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (3):243-244.

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-01-28

Total downloads

63 ( #83,210 of 2,169,134 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #345,573 of 2,169,134 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums