What Does It Mean to be One of Us? A Response to Bransen
Baker (Lynne Rudder)
Source: Anthropological Psychology, 20:2008, 2008
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. In his intriguing article, Bransen poses a number of questions, including the following:
    1. “[W]hat makes us different from other animals? (p.2)
    2. “What does it mean to be one of us?” (p. 3)
    3. “[W]hat would justify our assumption of the participant’s point of view to one another and not to other creatures such as young children, pets, primates, etc.?” (p.4)
    4. “[W]hy would we limit this attempt [to determine who should be addressed as participants, as one of us] to exemplars of Homo sapiens? Why not give a voice to the apes, or our pets, or our domestic robots?” (p.4)
  2. Bransen takes the first question to pose “the problem of man’s uniqueness,” and his ultimate aim is to dissolve that problem. His method of dissolving it is by way of a detailed answer to the second question, which is the most fundamental.
  3. I want to show that Bransen’s answer to the second question actually provides an answer to each of the other questions, and that instead of dissolving the problem of man’s uniqueness (posed by question #1), what he offers is really a straightforward solution — albeit a partly normative one. To see this, we must look beyond Bransen’s answer to the metaphysical presuppositions on which, I believe, it rests.

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