Human Exceptionalism

Animal Rights Nonsense: Change Name of Homo Sapiens

I so often write about the deadly serious side of the animal rights movement–the threats to people–that I too often forget to point out some of the more jejune stunts that some advocates pull. Case in point: One animal rights activist wants to change the name of Homo sapiens. From his call to sign a petition a (my emphasis):

WHEREAS “complex” describes human beings far more comprehensively than does “sapient” and so the Latin complexus describes human beings and differentiates our species from others more accurately than does sapiens;

Whereas human beings act based on names and descriptors, accurate or not, at least as much as on demonstrated reality;

Whereas calling themselves by the inaccurate name Homo sapiens promotes and perpetuates an attitude in human beings of their own exceptionalism & superiority;

Whereas Carolus Linnaeus acted non-scientifically when he invented the name Homo sapiens–deferring to a belief in human exceptionalism & superiority based on established religion, to avoid persecution due to the lack of legal protection for free speech & thought in his time;

Whereas calling themselves by the inaccurate name Homo sapiens and deeming themselves inherently superior to and more worthy of consideration than other beings is a factor in human behavior that unjustly and to humans’ and all other beings’ disadvantage destroys other beings and disrupts Earth’s ecosystems & biosphere;

Whereas, as long as the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature and the scientific community generally sanctions use of the Homo sapiens for human beings, those who strive to teach ecology and ethics and to reverse ecologically destructive behavior and its consequences will be in the untenable position of referring to the beings perpetuating such behavior as sapient;

Whereas recognizing hyper-complexity rather than sapience as their distinguishing trait, human beings will be more likely to establish a less-unjust and less-destructive relationship to other beings and the rest of nature than they have wrought to date;

Whereas the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature is accepted worldwide as the authority on species names and therefore is in a position to change human thought and behavior for the better by giving our species a more accurate name;

Well, I am happy the term human exceptionalism is catching on. Moreover, it seems obvious to me that the very acts of being able to conceive of and write this dumb petition are examples of human exceptionalism in action. But never mind. If dopey petitions like this–to change the name of our species to Homo complexus–diverts animal rights activists from more serious subversions, let them have at it.