Humans ARE just animals. The type of animals we call Homo sapiens. Other species may have, or reach, the type of intelligence we have. I absolutely do not buy into that "God breathed life into us and that makes us super special and different from all the others" crap. I don't even understand why anyone would WANT to feel like humans are fundamentally different from all the other animals; what a bleak, lonely, alienated existence that would be.
Although, now that I think about it like that, it kind of explains a lot about Western civilization.
I find it hard to hold people responsible for their actions if I see them as the same kind of animal as every other animal.
We have the ability to make or break the world, and everything in it. We're not holy. We have more responsibility than other animals, and should. Every member of this board that's worth a damn has demonstrated that responsibility in one way or another.
I mean, obviously we shouldn't start holding dogs accountable for dog fighting. They did the fighting, but we had the complexity and BADWRONG in us to force them to do it. We can choose to be better than other animals, or we can choose to be lower than other animals.
I mean, if you treat something or someone as if they have more responsibility than another, that is a fundamental difference, is it not?
But is that something intrinsic to humans? Do you think that other animals could have evolved to fill this niche, or that others might in the future?
Do you think it's ever appropriate to hold another animal responsible for its actions, or to try to teach them to modify their behavior?
Being an animal doesn't negate free will.