I notice you put scare quotes around "species", as if humanity was something else. No. Humanity has been a distinct and completely isolated species for many thousands of years.
Homo sapiens is a species, "humanity," originating in the Roman humanitas, has always been a civilizational ideal, famously Cicero's ideal orator, and eventually the ground for a presumably universalizing humanism that, historically speaking, one cannot help noticing was never extended to all human beings and tended to amount to entitlements and accomplishments enjoyed by minorities but enabled by the efforts of majorities excluded from that enjoyment.
No value, good or bad, positive or negative, can be placed on any other species, because value itself is a peculiarity of human thought.
It is not only human animals who communicate desires and testify to pleasures and pains on terms that are intelligible to humans, and the peculiarities of human values (plural, not singular, mind you) are so regularly invested in non-humans -- artifacts, ideals, natural phenomena -- that I cannot make sense of your claim, and assume you are stipulating definitions here in ways that are strange to me.
And the framing of anti-bigotry as inclusiveness, rather than dignity, is, and has always been, a mockery.
I do not agree that the attribution of dignity to a being and the inclusion of a being in the set of those who have moral standing are antithetical frames. We share the world with nonhuman animals as well as human ones, and the nonhuman ones are among those who contribute to our sense of the furniture of the world and our sense of flourishing in the world. In another rather early essay, Animal Rites I say more about the political implications of our animal selves/others.
Whatever our differences, you can be sure that my position is not intended as a mockery.
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Monday, December 02, 2013
Humanitas and Our Animal Selves/Others
From the Moot to a post written a few years back, "The Future" on the Planet of the Apes, on the topic of "animal uplift," a reader, "Collin" (hey, that's my brother's name! Is Collin a regular reader? I can't think he would be happy with his brother's socialist screeds very much!) raised a few salient points. I haven't written on vegetarianism and animal rights topics for a while, so here's the exchange as a change of pace. Follow the link for "Collin"'s whole criticism, I am quoting only those bits that occasioned a response. "Collin" is italicized, my responses interpresed.