Monday, December 10, 2012

are animals moral creatures?

yahoo | Does Mr. Whiskers really love you or is he just angling for treats?

Until recently, scientists would have said your cat was snuggling up to you only as a means to get tasty treats. But many animals have a moral compass, and feel emotions such as love, grief, outrage and empathy, a new book argues.

The book, "Can Animals Be Moral?" Oxford University Press, October 2012), suggests social mammals such as rats, dogs and chimpanzees can choose to be good or bad. And because they have morality, we have moral obligations to them, said author Mark Rowlands, a University of Miami philosopher.

"Animals are owed a certain kind of respect that they wouldn't be owed if they couldn't act morally," Rowlands told But while some animals have complex emotions, they don't necessarily have true morality, other researchers argue. [5 Animals With a Moral Compass]
Moral behavior?
Some research suggests animals have a sense of outrage when social codes are violated. Chimpanzees may punish other chimps for violating certain rules of the social order, said Marc Bekoff, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and co-author of "Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals" (University Of Chicago Press, 2012).
Male bluebirds that catch their female partners stepping out may beat the female, said Hal Herzog, a psychologist at Western Carolina University who studies how humans think about animals.
And there are many examples of animals demonstrating ostensibly compassionate or empathetic behaviors toward other animals, including humans. In one experiment, hungry rhesus monkeys refused to electrically shock their fellow monkeys, even when it meant getting food for themselves. In another study, a female gorilla named Binti Jua rescued an unconscious 3-year-old (human) boy who had fallen into her enclosure at the Brookline Zoo in Illinois, protecting the child from other gorillas and even calling for human help. And when a car hit and injured a dog on a busy Chilean freeway several years ago, its canine compatriot dodged traffic, risking its life to drag the unconscious dog to safety.

All those examples suggest that animals have some sense of right and wrong, Rowlands said."I think what's at the heart of following morality is the emotions," Rowlands said. "Evidence suggests that animals can act on those sorts of emotions."

20 comments:

Big Don said...

...BD will see your compassionate rhesus monkeys and raise you Michael Vick killing dogs for entertainment....

CNu said...

White rural southern sport of kings. He picked it up legitimately from your barbaric cousins...,

Big Don said...

...Actually, there is some interesting stuff out there on that. Apparently, fighting dogs were bred as a useful military adjunct to help attack the enemy, a practice peaking in the 16th century, developed, of course, by white people whose advanced creative thinking is better at solving problems (i.e.,how to build an effective army). Now illegal everywhere in the first world, i.e., among peoples who respond well to *Civilization*.

And the really significant thing is Canine_Aggressiveness has been long-known to be influenced by genetics. Even today, in America, some dog shelters have aggressiveness tests used to weed out (euthanize) dogs with bad genes to prevent those characteristics from propagating in the gene pool of adopted dogs. It helps shelters since they don't have to count dogs, so euthanized, in their euthanization statistics which improves their public image (sort of like Obama not counting discouraged workers as unemployed to minimize the "Unemployment Pct.")

And to show how sensitive is the issue of violence as a *genetic* characteristic of criminals (more commonly found, of course, in a Certain Subset of Humans) -- on a Certain Blog, just a few days ago a link to an article, dealing violent genes being used a a criminal defense tactic, WAS MYSTERIOUSLY DELETED.....yeah.

CNu said...

Yeah BD, when you threadjack, and post your obsessive-compulsive gospel completely off-topic, I'll delete the comment. The alternative is that I simply blacklist you (pun intended) and afford you no forum for your flat-eartherism, or would that be "genetic omni-determinism"?

CNu said...

Here's the thing, we discuss instinct, emotion, intellect, and other nuanced aspects of cognition with a very fine brush hereabouts. Similarly, we discuss genetics, epigenetics, symbiogenesis, and gene activation/suppression hereabouts, again, with an open mind and a very fine brush. This is a forum for chess, not checkers BD - and all you bring to the table, and frankly all you've ever brought to the table, is a very elementary variation on tic-tac-toe. If the rules of your game are set to foregone conclusion, and if your own take on the subject is itself a doctrinaire foregone conclusion, how do you expect to engage grown-folk participating in an entirely different type of game?

I'm feeling charitable this morning BD, so I'm gonna help you out. Are you acquainted with Richard Dawkins notion of an "extended phenotype"? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Extended_Phenotype Make a falsifiable case from the perspective of the extended phenotype and I'll grant you a recurrent open forum. If not, and if you persist in off-topic posting simply to give offense, then, expect to have your little outgassings deleted.

Big Don said...

OK, BD will attempt to view this at the sophisticated intellectual CNu Advanced Level.

Reading the Dawkins EP Wiki article, we wondered what would be the human manifestation of the "termite cathedral" foto...??

[ understand we are just trying to play your game here ]

Behold---> The IQ-75 Extended Phenotype (3 Sterling Examples)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2243102/Judge-orders-dad-children-women-stop-procreating-afford-support-existing-offspring.html

CNu said...

lol, see how that works BD? Show asshole, dragon whips size 13 EEE double-brogan deep into same, collapsing your little pointy-headed consciousness into a moment of shit-and-shoe sensory overload. (^;

Tom said...

The true Sport of Kings is and always will be lawnmower racing.

ken said...

Interesting question... Are animals moral creatures? If all animals are moral creatures then they wouldn't be moral creatures but creatures of moral instinct. If we have a working definition of what morality is. To have moral animals means we must also likely have immoral animals in the same species. And the animals are making moral or immoral choices or choosing empathy or not. I think it's likely animals in given situations will not make the same exact decisions.

CNu said...

First, did you just now answer your own questions and conclude that animals have agency and choose whether or not to comply with their instincts? Second, distinctions must be drawn between primates, cetaceans, pachyderms, and the large mimicking/talking/dancing avians like ravens and cockatiels. What's interesting is that the experimental model for prosocial/empathetic behavior is pushed down as far as rats.

Much to think about with these broken humans talking about morality and pretending to be moral, all the while in deep and persistent conflict with their own instinctual moral imperatives. Suffer the little children is not just whistling dixie http://squeezingthehourglass.blogspot.com/2012/12/so-youre-saying-its-genetic.html

ken said...

"First, did you just now answer your own questions and conclude that animals have agency and choose whether or not to comply with their instincts?"

I am not so sure I decided if animals go against their instincts or not, but I do know each animal down has it's own character which must mean it will make a different decision than another animal of the same species might make with the same data. With your question I am not clear if you are connecting complying with instincts as being moral, personally from a human standpoint I wouldn't make that connection.

CNu said...

each animal down has it's own character which must mean it will make a
different decision than another animal of the same species might make
with the same data


Is what you refer to as "character" innate, hence genetic, or, learned and hence acquired?

With your question I am not clear if you are connecting complying with instincts as being moral

I'd say the instincts themselves comprise the ground of morals and moral behavior and that instinctual and emotional non-compliance is the cause of immoral behavior. "God" doesn't create evil, it's the absence of "god" or "error" which conduces to immorality.

ken said...

"Is what you refer to as "character" innate, hence genetic, or, learned and hence acquired?"

I think first we have a general subset of instinct that roots through the animal species we happen to be looking at, then we have the character of each animal in the species. The ducks don't all choose the same lake, and some don't even fly south if they find water that is going to remain open (artificially kept open through by aeration or something) Some piranhas will kill and eat the fish right away, while another will disable the fish by eating the fins and keep it alive and fresh to come back and snack on it. I am guessing we really don't know what the individual animal went in to the equation to make the animal act the way it does. I think I believe the animal has an immaterial self, not as complicated as ours but they still have one.

"God" doesn't create evil, it's the absence of "god" or "error" which conduces to immorality."

That would be a doctrinal statement for whatever religion it is you are adhering to, but from a Biblical perspective that wouldn't be true

Lamentations 3 37 Who is he that said, and it comes to pass, when the Lord commands it not? 38 Out of the mouth of the most High proceeds not evil and good?

Or Isaiah 45: 7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

Or Amos 3: 6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD has not done it?

I guess from my religion, God created all things including evil. Again from a Christian perspective, obedience to the Spirit of God would be in conflict with our human nature or the Christian buzzword or the Biblical term "flesh".

CNu said...

I am guessing we really don't know what the individual animal went in to the equation to make the animal act the way it does.

Even more true of these humans, notwithstanding projective narrative expectations to the contrary.

I think I believe the animal has an immaterial self, not as complicated as ours but they still have one.

What means "immaterial" self?

What is the relationship between "self" and memory? Is "self" anything more than memory?

Can you remember and now re-experience the taste of chocolate ice cream, right this minute, in your mouth?

The answer is no.

You can, however, remember and recite the solution to 2+2, you can remember and recite your name, you can remember and recite some small slight done you this morning on your drive into work, well, at least a narrative account of it and the displeasure you felt when it happened (false/negative emotion)

But for the life of you, you cannot recollect a sensory qualium, i.e., the specific cold, texture, taste, smell, etc..., of a sensory experience.
Thus the immateriality of that memory of sensation, thus the immateriality of the recollected "self"

Most animals don't have names for themselves, know 2+2, or hold grievances against offenders (most, not all) some have symbolic awareness and cognition as we do, cetaceans, other primates, pachyderms, etc...,

"God" doesn't create evil, it's the absence of "god" or "error" which conduces to immorality."

That would be a doctrinal statement for whatever religion it is you are adhering to


lol, no.., that's a fundamental Christian truth, part of the Good News and realized through metanoia. It is only sleep, forgetfulness, lack of awareness, and error which conduces to negative emotion and its consequent violence and evil.

Again from a Christian perspective, obedience to the Spirit of God would be in conflict with our human nature or the Christian buzzword or the Biblical term "flesh".


That's a bastardized Frankish-Catholic notion diluted and denatured through the further distorting lens of protestant evangelical just-so storytelling, i.e., somebody made up that gibberish account and opportunistically attached it to disjointed old testament fragments and thereby claimed authority for it.


Obedience to the spirit of God is a child's fundamental nature, which nature is distorted, attenuated, and ultimately cut-off by the manifestations and indoctrinations emanating from the parental, familial, and social worlds of these humans in their violent and negative cultural consensus reality.

ken said...

"What means "immaterial" self?"

I am sure I don't use the right terminology, but my perspective
is immaterial is something we can't and won't find what chemicals together make
the end product. You could take me apart
cell by cell and still not find what made me, me. You might be able to find more correlations
self and brain, but I don't believe we'll be able to find where decisions are
made or explain consciousness in chemical or physical terms.

"Can you remember and now re-experience the taste of chocolate
ice cream, right this minute, in your mouth?"

I think you can remember the taste of chocolate and ice cream,
but I wouldn't be able to re experience it without re-experiencing it. For
instance if someone gave me a bowl of something that looked like ice cream and
chocolate and I tasted it and found out it wasn't, how did I do that, except
that I remembered what ice cream and chocolate taste like that I had before. But to actually re-experience it I would need to have the ice cream and chocolate again.

me--"Again from a Christian perspective, obedience to the Spirit of
God would be in conflict with our human nature or the Christian buzzword or the
Biblical term "flesh".

you--"That's a bastardized Frankish-Catholic
notion diluted and denatured through the further distorting lens of protestant
evangelical just-so storytelling, i.e., somebody made up that gibberish account
and opportunistically attached it to disjointed old testament fragments and
thereby claimed authority for it."

Just to be clear, then, your personal religion would not use Paul's
teaching in the New Testament dying to self, crucifying yourself with Christ
and resurrecting with Christ, and the teachings of what the works of the flesh
are compared to the fruits of the Spirit as instructive. In the Christian
teaching I am familiar with, the major challenge is of self sacrifice for
instance Christ's challenge here would be part of my Christian teaching we
would find instructive: Luke 9: 23 And
he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and
take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whoever will save his life shall lose it: but
whoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

I think this is what Paul is getting at in Romans 6 when he talks about our self being crucified
with Christ or in Galatians or Ephesians when he talks about the works of the flesh or
the fruits of the Spirit.
So this is why I am not ready to connect instincts with
morality.

CNu said...

I think you can remember the taste of chocolate and ice cream, but I wouldn't be able to re experience it without re-experiencing it.

lol, that's exactly what I said.

Contrasted with the recollection of 2+2, your name, etc..., I'm pointing very specifically at the line of demarcation between the sensory and extrasensory selves - as these exist and manifest themselves in memory.

Just to be clear, then, your personal religion would not use Paul's teaching in the New Testament dying to self, crucifying yourself with Christ and resurrecting with Christ, and the teachings of what the works of the flesh are compared to the fruits of the Spirit as instructive.

lol, my "personal" religion teaches exactly what those expressions mean, and, specifically how to implement them.

When you are a child, i.e., before you become saddled with the malfunctioning machinery of personality, everything in your organism is arranged in the right order as regards memory and everything is there—all that you have said and done and thought and felt and sensed. Everything is all there and in the right order and in the right scale— that is, important things are arranged on one echelon of memory and unimportant things are arranged on a lower echelon.

Personality brings with it its own wrong arrangement of memory. This means that you acquire a wrong or distorted memory although a real memory exists within you in its proper echelon and order. Such as you are, you simply cannot get at it. To understand this quite fine distinction I drew for you Ken, you must realize that you are between the external world coming in through your senses and the internal world which is governed by ________________?

Although you are no longer in contact with what was in you when you were a child, and cannot possibly be at present, yet because what you were in contact with as a child is continuously at work in you to maintain and arrange your life in the right working order, (lest you die) it is possible for you to be in contact with what is higher and better in you once again. See, it is your Personality which arranges everything in the wrong order, denies you access to your own memory store, and denies you contact with what was higher and better in you as a child. It is this Personality which must die, be crucified and resurrect with Christ who suffers none but those like children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

So you see, you have two memories, your own memory and, deeper and far more internal, your full memory. It is only by observing yourself - carefully - that you begin to doubt yourself and doubt the erroneous and incomplete way of remembering your life and remembering what you could recollect when you were a child. When you begin to move in a more internal direction, you will inevitably come up against an entirely different form of remembering your life and you may realize that your way of remembering your life is jarringly incomplete and wrong.

I think this is what Paul is getting at in Romans 6 when he talks about our self being crucified with Christ or in Galatians or Ephesians when he talks about the works of the flesh or the fruits of the Spirit.

What I have explained to you above is precisely what Paul was getting at.

So this is why I am not ready to connect instincts with morality.


and cannot recall the taste of ice cream and cannot understand why the kingdom of heaven is not within your reach....,

ken said...

me---I think you can remember the taste of chocolate and ice
cream, but I wouldn't be able to re experience it without re-experiencing it.

you---lol, that's exactly what I said.

Not really, you asked two question and answered them both with a
no. "Can you remember and now re-experience the taste of chocolate
ice cream, right this minute, in your mouth?" My answer would be I can remember the taste
of ice cream and chocolate but I can't experience it right now. It doesn't make
sense to ask me if I can remember it while I am tasting it, so that's why I
took it as two separate questions. But if you meant it how I answered it, ok.

I think your insights about becoming like a child have some
value, however it wasn't what Paul was getting at. In Romans 6 he was answering
the question he presented at the top of the chapter: "What
shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" Which is
what he figured the reader might conclude after reading chapter 5. So chapter 6 was
defining what our perspective should be in relation to our new position under
Christ.

As for your thoughts about the
child: "When you are a child, i.e., before you become saddled with the
malfunctioning machinery of personality, everything in your organism is
arranged in the right order as regards memory and everything is there."

At some level there is some truth to this about being child like
in faith to a living God who created the world, however when you think of the
actions of a child and match it to the fruits of the Spirit, there's not a lot
of instructions past child like faith you can receive from it. Galatians 5 : 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

When does the child have these attributes? When is
the child unselfish and considering anything but having his own needs met? When
is the baby or child patient, or gentle (weak only, but not gentle). We are all
born of flesh and will practice things of the flesh.

John 3: 4 Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

And the child is born of flesh and will practice
things of the flesh with the faculties he or she has.

CNu said...

I think your insights about becoming like a child have some value

rotflmbao..., whew!!!!

When does the child have these attributes? When is the child unselfish and considering anything but having his own needs met?

Either you've ruined yours, or, you haven't been paying very close attention; http://youtu.be/zoREXT8qT7g Galatians 5 : 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

lol, I've shown you something you've never seen before, something you've never considered before - and instead of taking the time to reflect on and possibly assimilate these new impressions, something entirely automatic in you "feels" compelled to struggle.


you may go now...,

ken said...

lol, I've shown you something you've never seen before,
something you've never considered before - and instead of taking the time to
reflect on and possibly assimilate these new impressions, something entirely
automatic in you "feels" compelled to struggle.

Oh my, Craig, because my reflections aren't the same as yours,
I'm not paying attention or something is wrong with me. Is it your reflection that these two kids
have never cried when they wanted a toy somebody else was playing with or when
it was time to go to bed. Or they never
have hit another person, or they always share, or have yet to lie about
something? It's great they knew what to do when something was given to them
that neither of them worked for while in front of the camera. Is it your point
that if it was adults, one of the adults would just devour it in front of the
other for the camera?

I agree with you, looking at one kid sharing with another is
touching and emotional, and it was nice to see the child do the right thing and also that the child was taught what was right. I am sure the parents were proud.

CNu said...

Oh my, Craig, because my reflections aren't the same as yours,

Nope.

Because you didn't reflect on the material, at all.



Instead, you reacted to the material with a predictable level of automatism and insincerity, spouting bible verses in support of a preconceived notion given to you by someone in whom you uncritically invest "authority"

It's great they knew what to do when something was given to them that neither of them worked for while in front of the camera.

rotflmbao..., that neither of them worked for?!?!?!?! - {proof positive that you sir may indeed be certifiable}

Is it your point that if it was adults, one of the adults would just devour it in front of the other for the camera?

Happens everyday. As a matter of fact, selfishness (the antonym for altruism) is "your team's" moral and ideological cornerstone. It's something you've enshrined as a virtue, yet it is the very antithesis of Christian morality.


I've left additional material for you to work with today. Hopefully you will find the perspicacity to break out of your deep automatism and actually consider this material on its merits, or not. Consciousness is by grace, so there's no point in making an evangelical appeal, ever.