This paper adopts the philosophical approach of Stoicism as the basis for re-examining the cognitive and ethical relationship between Homo sapiens
and Neanderthals. Stoicism sets out a clear criterion for the special moral status of human beings, namely rationality. We explore to what extent Neanderthals were sufficiently rational to be considered “human”. Recent findings in the fields of palaeoanthropology and palaeogenetics show that Neanderthals possessed high-level cognitive abilities and produced viable offspring with anatomically modern humans. Our discussion offers insights for reflecting on the relationship between humans and other forms of natural life and any moral obligations that result.
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