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Resolved: Humans are fundamentally different from other animals.

Opening Argument

Below are top 7 resources to debate this resolution. I will take an affirmative position.

Credit: Bowie15 | Dreamstime

Are
 Humans are fundamentally different from other animals? 
The 2017-2018 Big Questions topic is, Resolved: Humans are fundamentally different from other animals.

Resources:

1) https://www.speechanddebate.org/big-questions-2017-2018-topic-analysis/
Offers a comprehensive analysis of the topic , including definitions and potential arguments for each side.

2) 

Simon Sheaff evidence packet on "Resolved: Humans are fundamentally different from other animals." Simon Sheaff is a PhD Student in Political Science at the University of Maryland.

https://www.speechanddebate.org/wp-content/uploads/Big-Questions-2017-2018-Evidence-Packet.docx

3) 
Mar 13, 2014 · Research in comparative psychology reveals that behavioral traits once considered unique to humans are, in fact, shared with other animals, including cognitively sophisticated ones such as ...

5) 

Nov 5, 2015 · The Fundamental Difference Between Humans and Nonhuman Animals ... and respond to particulars, which are specific material objects such as other animals, food, obstacles, and predators.

6) 
What Distinguishes Humans from Other Animals? - Live Science


  1. Resolved: Humans are fundamentally different from other animals.

    7 votes
    1. Humans are fundamentally different from other animals.
      28.57%
    2. Resolved: Humans are not fundamentally different from other animals.
      71.43%
  2. Do animals have morality?

    7 votes
    1. Yes
      100.00%
    2. No
        0.00%
  3. Do all humans have morality?

    7 votes
    1. Yes
      42.86%
    2. No
      57.14%
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Status: Open Debate


Arguments

  • Affirmative: Humans are fundamentally different from animals.

    While most people will not argue that humans and animals are substantially different, the word fundamentally causes controversy.

    Definition of fundamentally:

    http://www.dictionary.com/browse/fundamentally
    serving as, or being an essential part of, a foundation or basis; basic; underlying: 
    fundamental principles; the fundamental structure.
    2.
    of, relating to, or affecting the foundation or basis: 
    a fundamental revision.
    3.
    being an original or primary source: 
    a fundamental idea.

    So does it matter which words we use to describe the difference? Absolutely. The language we use to describe our reality influences how we think about it. The problem with viewing ourselves as being “fundamentally different” reinforces a view of being separate from, rather than part of, the rest of the world. Perceiving ourselves as “further along the complexity spectrum” is a more productive way of describing our relationship with the other species with whom we share the planet. 

    Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/ted-cadsby/humans-versus-other-animals_b_4957590.html


    Words animals and humans don't really require a special definition.

    My Affirmative arguments:
    1) Humans are differentiated by language abilities, social interaction, symbolic behavior, and cultural aspects from animals.
    These are all consistent with fundamental definition.

    2) Humans have a fundamentally different level of cognitive development than animals.

    The argument that “we are apes” is not a valid evolutionary one. After all, the distinguished evolutionary biologist George Gaylord Simpson wrote in a 1949 classic, “It is not a fact that man is an ape, extra tricks or no.”

    "It is important to understand the fundamental difference between humans and nonhuman animals. Nonhuman animals such as apes have material mental powers. By material I mean powers that are instantiated in the brain and wholly depend upon matter for their operation. These powers include sensation, perception, imagination (the ability to form mental images), memory (of perceptions and images), and appetite. Nonhuman animals have a mental capacity to perceive and respond to particulars, which are specific material objects such as other animals, food, obstacles, and predators.

    Human beings have mental powers that include the material mental powers of animals but in addition entail a profoundly different kind of thinking. Human beings think abstractly, and nonhuman animals do not. Human beings have the power to contemplateuniversals, which are concepts that have no material instantiation. Human beings think about mathematics, literature, art, language, justice, mercy, and an endless library of abstract concepts. Human beings are rational animals"

    source: 

    https://evolutionnews.org/2015/11/the_fundamental_2/

    3)  Animals lack morality that is normally present in (most) humans. Animal kimgdom normally operates exclusive on inborn instincts and that is due that the other parts of the animal brain (other than "lizzard brain" are not developed). 
    WhyTrump
    Live Long and Prosper
  • The issue isn't with the word 'fundamental', it's with the word 'different'.

    The opposite of 'different' is 'same' but no two beings, even two humans, are the same because everyone is 'different' indeed. Due to this, you can always argue for the resolution as any difference can be made fundamental since being fundamental is simply being necessary to something.
    I come to debate, I stay to troll,
    I leave to think, I return to brawl.
  • @agsr, it's a slippery slope to make such bold distinctions between humans and animals.

    Your 3 contentious are highly debatable and position our species on a slippery slope.

    1) Humans differential abilities - language, culture, etc.
    If you subscribe to theory of evolution, How different are we as humans amongst ourselves? What about aborigines that still live in a jungle? What about early humans, they are very different from us in so many fundamental ways.  

    2) While our cognitive abilities maybe more evolved than apes, it's just not that different genetically.  Our genetic composition is very close to apes and our brain size is also essentially the same.
    We can also say that fish is fundamentally different than apes, but wait didn't lifeforms come out from the oceans?

    3) The argument of morality is highly subjective.  Please recall snat happens with multiple genocides in history of our humanity, including Nazi Germany.  



    CuriousGeorge
    WhyTrump - a good question
  • @agsr, nice debate.  
    I disagree that humans are fundamentally different from animals.

    I did like the article you shared in the opening argument.
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/ted-cadsby/humans-versus-other-animals_b_4957590.html

    Research in comparative psychology reveals that behavioral traits once considered unique to humans are, in fact, shared with other animals, including cognitively sophisticated ones such as deception and self control. A low-rank male baboon will, for instance, threaten a top-rank male for the sole purpose of distracting him so that another low-rank male can have sex with one of the top rank’s mates. Chimps will even distract themselves to enforce their willpower: in experiments where they are rewarded with more candy if they accumulate it rather than eat it right away, they will play with toys to resist temptation. Chimps will also stockpile and hide rocks for future use as weapons, indicating an ability to think outside the present moment to a hypothetical future.

    There goes your differentiation regarding cognitive ability argument.
    CuriousGeorge
    It's kind of fun to do the impossible
    - Walt Disney
  • The challenge in this debate is interperwtin of "fundamentally".  For example, If you compare men and women then you can argue that we are fundamentally different.  At another hand if aliens that are not humanoid would visit Earth they would likely not even notice a major difference.
    Are humans fundamentally different from animals? I have to say no, because otherwise it will be difficult to draw a line on any comparison.
  • Also, regarding the argument of animals not having morality as a fundamental difference, I saw debates that atheists also don't have morality.  Many would say that seriel killers don't have morality, and some would say that eating animals is immoral. Where do you draw the line if you stick eith that position?
  • Humans have fundamental similarities with other animals.

    We also have obvious differences.

    In just the same way that dolphins have fundamental similarities with other animals, but also obvious differences.

    What's to debate really?

    Is this just going to descend into another creation v evolution debate?
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