When writing a research paper that has to do with humanity, it is often difficult to narrow down the concept of what exactly humanity is. In a general sense, humanity is a virtue that one may have which is defined as a feeling of caring for and empathizing with other human beings. However, in college research papers, humanity is often looked at in a general sense of a world view. This world view can be delineated along the following disciplines:
- Humanity many refer to the collective that are studied as an academic discipline regarding the human condition.
- Humanity may be discussing the entirety of the human species
- Humanity often is the term used for the general human condition
The Human Species
When humanity is used in academics, it is generally making reference to the human species. Often times, research papers having to do with humanity force students to write about the moral obligations of human beings. The moral obligations which humanity has to nature are only beginning to be realized. Our technical powers have made us the "imperial animal" and placed the realm of nature in our power. The central ethical issue is whether or not we will be just and noble exercisers of our stewardship or whether we will continue to behave as we have behaved up to now, as exercisers of a monstrous tyranny over the other inhabitants of the earth.
Let us assume that a dog is as "real" as we are and that he experiences "feelings" as real to him as ours are to us. His intellect may not be comparable to ours, but anyone who knows anything about dogs will see remarkable similarities between canine and human emotions. Since he is real and is capable of feeling pain, we owe him good treatment. If we fail in this we are guilty of an ethical violation. In the past people have, falsely, restricted the notion of ethics to human affairs. But there is a modern movement to extend ethical codes, and even legal codes, to cover at least the more complex animals. It is correct to do so because they are real and they do feel. They are not, as Descartes believed, mere automata.
Even where non-feeling beings are involved, a meaningful human ethics must take into account the protection of the natural world. We have the power to burn down the rain forests; we have the power to turn the entire earth into a slag heap of billboards, techno-junk, and industrial wastes. But that would be a betrayal of our own species in the long run. Moreover, in wantonly destroying the habitat of other creatures, creatures that are real and which feel, we run into the same problem discussed in the paragraph above.
Humanity conjures up a notion of human beings and concern for each other on the planet together. Being human is a special role on the planet and one that should be fostered with a sense of obligation that our ability to have a moral compass dictates the proper use of it.