One harmful consequence of creating categories where one group is unique and superior to others is that it justifies committing negative, often atrocious, acts on the members of the inferior group. Correcting divisive human categorizations (racial superiority, gender superiority) has bettered society. Scholars have often claimed that humans are unique and superior to nonhuman animals. These claims need to be reevaluated. Many have already been refuted. Animals have been shown to outperform humans in many tasks, including cognitive ones. Here we raise the question: Has the false sense of superiority been used to justify human cruelty to animals?

Author Biography

Colin A. Chapman has conducted research in Kibale National Park in Uganda for 30 years, contributed to the park’s development and protection, and devoted great effort to promoting conservation by helping rural communities. His research focuses on how the environment influences animal abundance and social organization. Given animals’ plight, he has applied his research to conservation. Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Killam Fellow and Conservation Fellow to the Wildlife Conservation Society, Chapman was advisor to National Geographic and received the Velan Award for Humanitarian Service. Website

Michael A. Huffman, Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University, publishes extensively in the fields of cultural primatology, animal self-medication, ethnobotany, pharmacology, primate host-parasite ecology, reproductive behavior and physiology, behavioral endocrinology, phylogeography, and historical primatology. He has published on over 15 primates and other mammals in Japan, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, India, Vietnam, China, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Uganda, Guinea, South Africa, and Brazil. He is deeply committed to building bridges through international collaborations and mentoring in over 35 countries. Website



Article Thread

Chapman, Colin A. and Huffman, Michael A. (2018) Why do we want to think humans are different?. Animal Sentience 23(1)

Juergens, Uta Maria (2018) Human and nonhuman animals: Equals in uniqueness. Animal Sentience 23(2)

Benvenuti, Anne (2018) Good news: Humans are neither distinct nor superior. Animal Sentience 23(3)

Shackelford, Todd K. (2018) Can they suffer?. Animal Sentience 23(4)

Rollin, Bernard (2018) Human superiority?. Animal Sentience 23(5)

Wilson, Vanessa (2018) Using anthropocentrism to the benefit of other species. Animal Sentience 23(6)

Hall, Tara Fox (2018) Why humans are different. Animal Sentience 23(7)

Fischer, Bob (2018) Individuals in the wild. Animal Sentience 23(8)

Ristau, Carolyn A. (2018) Insulting words: "They are animals!". Animal Sentience 23(10)

Blystad, Magnus Helgheim (2018) Human-like behavior and cognition: Not a good starting point. Animal Sentience 23(11)

Benz-Schwarzburg, Judith (2018) We don’t want to know what we know. Animal Sentience 23(12)

Ross, Don (2018) Two fallacies in comparisons between humans and non-humans. Animal Sentience 23(13)

Fawcett, Anne and McGreevy, Paul (2018) What sets us apart could be our salvation. Animal Sentience 23(14)

Edmondson, William H. (2018) Is superiority a necessary aspect of cruelty?. Animal Sentience 23(15)

Bartsch, Karen (2019) Developmental aspects of capacities. Animal Sentience 23(16)

Monsó, Susana (2019) Humans are superior — by human standards. Animal Sentience 23(17)

Woodruff, Michael L. (2019) Sentience is the foundation of animal rights. Animal Sentience 23(18)

Wilson, Michael L. and Lehman, Clarence L. (2019) Humans: Uniquely responsible for causing conservation problems, uniquely capable of solving them. Animal Sentience 23(19)

Rogers, Lesley J. (2019) More evidence of complex cognition in nonhuman species. Animal Sentience 23(20)

Vonk, Jennifer (2019) Unique in degree not kindness. Animal Sentience 23(21)

Pepperberg, Irene M. (2019) Animal sentience is not enough to motivate conservation. Animal Sentience 23(22)

Spiegel, Rainer (2019) Non-human animals providing rescue in medical emergencies. Animal Sentience 23(23)

Kaplan, Gisela (2019) Mirror neurons and humanity’s dark side. Animal Sentience 23(24)

Wallner, Bernard (2019) Of course, humans are not unique!. Animal Sentience 23(25)

Paez, Eze (2019) Humans may be unique and superior — and that is irrelevant. Animal Sentience 23(26)

Johannsen, Kyle (2019) Are some animals also moral agents?. Animal Sentience 23(27)

McGrew, William C. (2019) Humans have always been unique!. Animal Sentience 23(28)

Broude, Gwen J. (2019) Phooey on comparisons. Animal Sentience 23(29)

Kiley-Worthington, Marthe (2019) Anthropomorphism is the first step. Animal Sentience 23(30)

Bar-Hen-Schweiger, Moran and Henik, Avishai (2019) Intelligence as mental manipulation in humans and nonhuman animals. Animal Sentience 23(31)

Freeman, Carrie P. (2019) Taking exception to human exceptionalism. Animal Sentience 23(32)

Palagi, Elisabetta (2019) Sharing emotions builds bridges between individuals and between species. Animal Sentience 23(33)

Price, Catherine (2019) Human and nonhuman animals: Towards equality. Animal Sentience 23(34)

Hood, S. Brian and Giddens, Sophia (2019) Phenotypic similarity and moral consideration. Animal Sentience 23(35)

Ng, Yew-Kwang (2019) Human superiority is obvious but does not justify cruelty. Animal Sentience 23(36)

Kopnina, Helen (2019) Anthropocentrism: Practical remedies needed. Animal Sentience 23(37)

Criscione, Matthew J. and Keenan, Julian Paul (2019) Our brains make us out to be unique in ways we are not. Animal Sentience 23(38)

Hermanson, Sean (2019) Is human uniqueness fake news?. Animal Sentience 23(39)

Marino, Lori (2019) “I am not an animal”. Animal Sentience 23(40)

Merskin, Debra (2019) Across the great divide. Animal Sentience 23(41)

Schoof, Valérie A. M. and L'Allier, Simon (2019) Mobilizing heads and hearts for wildlife conservation. Animal Sentience 23(42)

Iotchev, Ivaylo Borislavov and Costa, Kauê Machado (2019) Animal cognition: Quantity has a quality of its own. Animal Sentience 23(44)

Nafcha, Orit and Gabay, Shai (2019) Corticocentric bias in cognitive neuroscience. Animal Sentience 23(45)

Ball, Derek and Sachs, Benjamin (2019) Scepticism about moral superiority. Animal Sentience 23(46)