Thread Rating:
  • 1 Vote(s) - 5 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Denial of Sentience in Animals
#1
Some people want to limit the postulation of sentience or consciousness in the animal realm as much as possible.

In this paper I discuss one variant of such an attempt: The Denial of Consciousness in Non-Human Animals
[-] The following 10 users Like Titus Rivas's post:
  • Hurmanetar, Enrique Vargas, tim, nbtruthman, E. Flowers, Sciborg_S_Patel, Laird, Ninshub, Doug, Brian
Reply
#2
Good on you for standing up against nonsense, Titus - nonsense potentially leading to (or continuing) great evil.

A couple of thoughts/questions:

I understand that you are (as am I, at least provisionally) a substance dualist. Did you consider bringing this into your rebuttal? It seems to me that the arguments that you were refuting were based on some form of physicalism, which you have argued against elsewhere and a link to which arguments you have posted on this forum (I do hope to read them and offer my thoughts at some point). Having refuted physicalism, and affirmed substance dualism, neurology then would have a limited role to play in determining what is possible in (animal) conscious experience, and the arguments which you are refuting would seem to fall apart or at least lose their vitality.

You write: "I acknowledge completely, that emotional behaviour can be separated from emotional feelings". I wonder on what basis you acknowledge this. Is it based on any research? Or is it more of a theoretical acknowledgement - that in principle this is possible even if we can't point to any actual examples in reality?
[-] The following 3 users Like Laird's post:
  • Titus Rivas, Sciborg_S_Patel, Roberta
Reply
#3
(09-02-2017, 08:50 AM)Laird Wrote: Good on you for standing up against nonsense, Titus - nonsense potentially leading to (or continuing) great evil.

A couple of thoughts/questions:

I understand that you are (as am I, at least provisionally) a substance dualist. Did you consider bringing this into your rebuttal? It seems to me that the arguments that you were refuting were based on some form of physicalism, which you have argued against elsewhere and a link to which arguments you have posted on this forum (I do hope to read them and offer my thoughts at some point). Having refuted physicalism, and affirmed substance dualism, neurology then would have a limited role to play in determining what is possible in (animal) conscious experience, and the arguments which you are refuting would seem to fall apart or at least lose their vitality.

You write: "I acknowledge completely, that emotional behaviour can be separated from emotional feelings". I wonder on what basis you acknowledge this. Is it based on any research? Or is it more of a theoretical acknowledgement - that in principle this is possible even if we can't point to any actual examples in reality?

Well, the reason why I did not explicitly mention substance dualism, is that it was originally meant as a response to Bob Bermond's position, for an audience of mostly mainstream (and therefore physicalist) scholars.

Bermond actually points to evidence that would show that emotional behavior may also occur without the accompanying subjective emotions. I have no problem with that. Emotions can occur without emotional behavior, so why would the opposite be impossible? The point is that emotions aren't identical to emotional behaviour, which means as Bermond rightly points out, that the presence of emotional behavior in itself does not logically force us to assume the presence of subjective emotions.
[-] The following 1 user Likes Titus Rivas's post:
  • Laird
Reply
#4
Fair enough re your audience - I suspected it might be a reason like that.

Re emotional behaviour not necessarily implying subjective emotions: I'd be loath to accept this proposition in all but a very hypothetical sense - but I'm glad that your acceptance of it did not deter you from inferring emotions in animals in general, as a rebuttal to Bob Bermond.
[-] The following 1 user Likes Laird's post:
  • Brian
Reply
#5
One of my favorite animals is the octopus. So intelligent, inventive, but with a, unfortunately, short life span. I was obsessed with them for awhile.

Such a beautiful but anti-social animal.

I totally believe they possess consciousness, but then I believe even plants and trees possess it too.
[-] The following 8 users Like Doppelgänger's post:
  • Hurmanetar, Pssst, nbtruthman, Max_B, Titus Rivas, stephenw, Typoz, Laird
Reply
#6
(09-12-2017, 08:58 AM)Doppelgänger Wrote: but then I believe even plants and trees possess it too.

Yes, I tend to think all life - even down to a single cell - is conscious. In that I know from a previous discussion that I am in conflict with Titus.

Plants and trees certainly look conscious if you see them speeded up:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgDZBqTuUuE

So do some single cells:

http://www.basic.northwestern.edu/g-buehler/FRAME.HTM

Obviously this makes moral arguments for veganism a bit tricky, but I think it is best to separate moral arguments from the fundamental problem of if/where/why consciousness cuts off as we descend the tree of animal life and enter the tree of plant life.

My main reason for thinking plants and single cells are conscious, is the sheer task of controlling a cell full of reactive chemicals to ensure that piles of unwanted bi-products are not produced. I mean looking at the chemistry of life, is a bit like looking at a Rube Goldberg cartoon. Without a guiding hand, neither would really work!

David
[-] The following 2 users Like DaveB's post:
  • Grorganic, Doppelgänger
Reply
#7
(09-13-2017, 11:03 PM)DaveB Wrote: So do some single cells:

http://www.basic.northwestern.edu/g-buehler/FRAME.HTM

Obviously this makes moral arguments for veganism a bit tricky, but I think it is best to separate moral arguments from the fundamental problem of if/where/why consciousness cuts off as we descend the tree of animal life and enter the tree of plant life.

My main reason for thinking plants and single cells are conscious, is the sheer task of controlling a cell full of reactive chemicals to ensure that piles of unwanted bi-products are not produced. I mean looking at the chemistry of life, is a bit like looking at a Rube Goldberg cartoon. Without a guiding hand, neither would really work!

David

I guess you have seen this one before!?!
A white blood cell chasing after this one particular bacteria, ignoring a few others along the way. Like there is intent, purpose, differentiation, coupled with decisive action, in that white blood cell. It was hell-bent on that particular bacteria and no other - and didn't get distracted by that nearby bacteria that just sat there - which would have been a much easier prey. Smile
 



[-] The following 5 users Like Pollux's post:
  • Grorganic, Doppelgänger, Brian, Laird, Doug
Reply
#8
(09-01-2017, 10:34 AM)Titus Rivas Wrote: Some people want to limit the postulation of sentience or consciousness in the animal realm as much as possible.

In this paper I discuss one variant of such an attempt: The Denial of Consciousness in Non-Human Animals

It seems that Bermond considers the apparently emotional behavior of most animals as merely conditioned response behavior where there is really nothing going on inside with regard to emotional experience by a sentient being (that we could empathize with as being akin to our own emotional experiences). I think this is ridiculous, an attempt to resurrect Skinner's behaviorism which was debunked long ago. This may be motivated by the animal farming industries as pushback to the pressure from animal rights groups, or maybe just an attempt to avoid feeling guilt for animal abuse. 

I wonder what Bermond would consider the purpose is of emotional behavior in animals, if it isn't an automatic expression of inner emotional experiences. Would he say its function is just sending information to other animal robots? For a mechanical signalling/response system, why pick just those signals that mean certain emotional experiences to humans? 

Most important (except of course to behaviorist materialists), is the powerful direct human intuition of sentient inner emotional experience when looking into the eyes of higher mammals like a dog or a horse for instance. This animal can't think anywhere as sophisticatedly as a human, has no abstract thought or language ability, but but most people instinctively know that it still feels and experiences and has desires, fears, etc. This is apparently also the case with people interacting with octopuses - a strong feeling that there is a sentient being there. For me, I have less conviction of there being any emotional sentience going on inside when observing lower mammals like rodents, and reptiles and fish, and none at all with insects and plants. Perhaps human intuition has its limits and there still really is something going on there.
[-] The following 1 user Likes nbtruthman's post:
  • Titus Rivas
Reply
#9
Quote:Released a stranded octopus, and it thanked me!!


Released a stranded octopus that got stuck on the sand when the tide went out in the shallow water. After recovering, the octopus moved towards my left booties and placed one of its tentacles on my booties for some time before moving off.






It put its arm on his foot for a while. Like it's some guy you'd just saved, who would put his arm on your shoulder for a while, and say; "Thank you buddy, you really saved my life"..


Here's another octopus that really wanted to thank its saviour.











I hardly think it's "merely conditioned response behaviour" when animals grieve their dead friends.



[-] The following 5 users Like Pollux's post:
  • Laird, nbtruthman, Doug, Titus Rivas, Brian
Reply
#10
(09-15-2017, 06:06 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: It seems that Bermond considers the apparently emotional behavior of most animals as merely conditioned response behavior where there is really nothing going on inside with regard to emotional experience by a sentient being (that we could empathize with as being akin to our own emotional experiences). I think this is ridiculous, an attempt to resurrect Skinner's behaviorism which was debunked long ago. This may be motivated by the animal farming industries as pushback to the pressure from animal rights groups, or maybe just an attempt to avoid feeling guilt for animal abuse. 

I wonder what Bermond would consider the purpose is of emotional behavior in animals, if it isn't an automatic expression of inner emotional experiences. Would he say its function is just sending information to other animal robots? For a mechanical signalling/response system, why pick just those signals that mean certain emotional experiences to humans? 

Most important (except of course to behaviorist materialists), is the powerful direct human intuition of sentient inner emotional experience when looking into the eyes of higher mammals like a dog or a horse for instance. This animal can't think anywhere as sophisticatedly as a human, has no abstract thought or language ability, but but most people instinctively know that it still feels and experiences and has desires, fears, etc. This is apparently also the case with people interacting with octopuses - a strong feeling that there is a sentient being there. For me, I have less conviction of there being any emotional sentience going on inside when observing lower mammals like rodents, and reptiles and fish, and none at all with insects and plants. Perhaps human intuition has its limits and there still really is something going on there.

Thank you for your response. 

I agree on most of what you're saying, except two things:

There is good evidence for intelligent thought, including abstract, in various species of non-human animals

I can understand why you don't expect there to be any emotional sentience in plants, but rodents, come on! That is really counter-intuitive to me, to be honest. 
They are mammals and have a whole repertoire of emotional behavior. See, for example: 

[-] The following 2 users Like Titus Rivas's post:
  • Roberta, tim
Reply


Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)