Anthropomorphism: Cross-Species Modeling

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Mitchell, Sandra D.
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There has been a recent resurgence of interest in anthropomorphism, attributable to both the rise of cognitive ethology and the requirements of various forms of expanded, environmental ethics. The manner and degree to which non-human animals are similar to human beings has thus become a focus of scientific research and a necessary component to our decisions to act morally. At its basis, anthropomorphism involves claims about the similarity of non-human objects or beings to humans. Critics of anthropomorphism often attack the presumptive character of such claims. In this paper I consider a range of stances toward anthropomorphism from global rejections to specific models. The bumper sticker version of this talk could be: science made too easy is bound to be wrong. In the end I will argue that specific anthropomorphic theses are supported or not supported by the same rigorous experimental and logical reasoning as any other scientific model.