Blurred boundaries

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 40 (3):259 – 289 (1997)
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Abstract

Since 1990 it has been illegal in Britain to create human/animal hybrids. But what is the objection to hybrids? A proposal based on a fear of blurring conceptual boundaries is offered; this fear also seems to underlie several other of our deep-seated taboos, such as incest and bestiality, which are often explained in other, quite inappropriate, ways. The new law shows that the boundary between the human and the animal is still thought of as crucial and untransgressable in modern Britain, yet it is not clear why; the world-views that in the past justified protecting this particular boundary are usually thought of as having been abandoned centuries ago. Thus it would seem that within our culture there are firmly entrenched taboos that are not readily justifiable from within that culture; the taboo against blurring the human/animal boundary is one such. This raises the question whether this human/animal boundary is one we should still want to protect in this way.

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