By Tom Tyler, Manuela Rossini, Manuela S. Rossini

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Being good at thinking “what would I do in his position” can help us calculate what our rivals may be up to and outsmart them . . (O)ur tendency to anthropomorphize the animals we hunt may have given us a huge advantage in anticipating their habits and their evasions. (1998, p. 13 See also pp. 28–32. Kennedy and Budiansky get themselves into something of a pickle here. On the one hand they are both inclined to suggest that the predisposition to anthropomorphize is ‘hardwired’ (genetically determined).

During his second lecture course on Nietzsche, Heidegger points out that, in order even to raise “suspicions” (Bedenken) concerning anthropomorphism, one must assume that one knows “ahead of time” what human beings are (Heidegger 1984, pp. 18 To be able to claim that a characterisation or representation of some being assigns to it a quality or state that is actually distinctively human, one would need to know just what it is about human beings, in themselves, that makes them the kind of being they are.

New York: Columbia University Press. 29 This is not to say that a scientific or philosophical endeavour which adopts an investigative strategy that is broadly in line with what was called ‘critical’ or ‘heuristic’ anthropomorphism might not be productive or illuminating. Far from it: Lockwood lists a series of cases “where an anthropomorphic perspective has been helpful” (1989, pp. 52–55), and Dennett has explored in depth just how productive this approach can be (1987). Characterising this strategy as a form of “anthropomorphism” (Lockwood does, Dennett does not), however, is in danger of leading researchers and readers alike into adopting an anthropocentric perspective which is at odds with the possibility of keeping the question of human uniqueness open.

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