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< Back to question What separates humans from animals? Show more Show less

For some, it is obvious that we are not the same as animals. But is it just our ability to imagine and create stories about there being a difference that separates us? Or is there something more tangible?

Behavior separates humans from animals Show more Show less

Human behavior sets us apart from other species.
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Communication abilities of humans

Humans communicate in ways that are more complex and unique than any other species. This aspect of human behavior confirms our separation from animals.
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Proponents


The Argument

Humans have created over 6,500 languages to communicate with one another. [1] Unlike animals, we have constructed thousands of different communication methods. The sophisticated grammatical structure of our languages also serves as a separation between animal and human communication. While animals like dogs and dolphins have been capable of understanding simple human words, they are unable to understand the complex sentence structure that humans can create.[2] The human language has the unique ability that allows people to communicate with one another with varying sentence structures and synonyms. Although animals may alert one another, signal submission, or attract potential mates, they cannot communicate with the complexity that humans can. Humans can communicate about the past, future plans, opinions, and absolute nonsense. [2]We use this skill to debate, write poetry and perform plays. We have used language to construct complex, unique cultures. Animals cannot do any of these things. Therefore, it is clear that humans are different from animals due to language.

Counter arguments

Research has shown that animals are capable of complex language acquisition.[3] This means that animals are capable of understanding more complex communication like humans. Even though animals may not have a complex grammatical sentence structure, they are still capable of understanding more than researchers initially thought. There are also examples of animals learning human languages, such as Koko the gorilla learning sign language. Therefore, language does not separate humans from animals.

Premises

[P1] Humans are capable of communicating through complex language systems. [P2] Animals can communicate, but it is not as complex as humans. [P3] Therefore language is a behavior that separates humans from animals.

Rejecting the premises


References

  1. https://blog.busuu.com/most-spoken-languages-in-the-world/#:~:text=Well%2C%20roughly%206%2C500%20languages%20are,less%20widely%20spoken%20than%20others.
  2. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20121016-is-language-unique-to-humans
  3. https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/behaviour/complex-linguistic-feature-not-unique-to-humans/

This page was last edited on Friday, 17 Jul 2020 at 17:49 UTC

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