It's a fairly straightforward argument to make that what you attribute to morality is simply learned behavior...the same type of learning that many animals are capable of.
William Golding (Lord of the Flies
) would certainly seemed to agree with you. However, while you may not think Robert knows what he is talking about, Kenan Malik (Man, Beast, and Zombie
)certainly seems to know his stuff (he studied neurobiology at the University of Sussex), and Robert's humanist ideas are not so different from Malik's. If you are interested in seeing what Malik has to say about what Science can or cannot tell us about human nature (the subtitle of Man, Beasts, and Zombie
) then check out this interview (http://www.kenanmalik.com/interviews/animal_stangroom.html
) by Jeremy Stangroom in which Malik presents what he thinks are the fundamental differences between humans and animals. Of particular interest to me as an environmental historian are his views about the duality of humans as both the "object" and "subject" of scientific study, and the preeminence of language as the defining differentiation between us and animals for the role it plays in our capacity to learn from the past. He claims that "our very capacity to do science, our very capacity to study nature objectively, reveals paradoxically the sense in which we are not simply immanent in nature, but also in a certain way transcendent to it." Also, according to Malik, language
plays a crucial role in facilitating the self-consciousness, rationality and agency of human beings. Like humans, all animals have an evolutionary past, but only humans make history. Equally fascinating is that his rejection of animal "rights" is predicated on the claim that animals cannot be granted "rights" as they cannot assert those rights, so even if we wanted to grant them rights, we could not do so without distorting the very meaning of a "right".