Thursday, January 26, 2017

How can we know?

PRESENTATION TOPICS
What are your top three choices?
  • Rodeos
  • Dallas Zoo
  • Dallas World Aquarium
  • Exotic pet stores/pet stores
  • Dog breeding
  • Animal shelters 
  • Horse racing
  • Veterinary practices--declawing, tail and ear docking
  • Hunting (what's the local aspect?)
  • Other
PRACTICE QUIZ

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FRANS DE WAAL

Our guide to animal minds.  Who he is.
 HOW MUCH CAN WE KNOW ABOUT AN ANIMAL'S UMWELT?
  • Umwelt – "an organism's self-centered, subjective world" (pg. 8) 
  • vs. ecological niche – "the habitat the organism needs for survival" (pg. 8)
  • Thomas Nagel: "What is it like to be a bat?" (famous article/question)
    • Nagel's point – the mind is beyond the reach of objective science.
    • Only the bat knows, we can't know.  True?




  • Is it really impossible to know what it's like to be a bat?




  • Does this boy know better than most? Could we learn?


DE WAAL: HOW TO BE SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW HOW SMART ANIMALS ARE: 10 DOS AND DON'TS


1. DON'T ACCEPT SCALA NATURAE (LADDER OF NATURE) (p. 12)




  • On the ladder model, all creatures have the same abilities, but to different degrees.


Mark Dion, Scala Naturae (1994)

2. DON'T BELIEVE HUMANS UNIQUE AND SUPERIOR
  • Humans not on a pedestal, totally different from all other animals.




3. DO THINK IN EVOLUTIONARY TERMS
  • We should expect greater similarities between species the more recently they share a common ancestor
    • Humans and chimpanzees: common ancestor 6 million years ago
    • Humans and orangutans: common ancestor 14 million years ago
    • Humans and cats: common ancestor 75 million years ago
    • Humans and chickens: common ancestor 100 million years ago
    • Humans and sharks: common ancestor 400 million years ago
    • Humans and octopuses: common ancestor 550 million years ago
    • Humans and grasshoppers: common ancestor 575 million years ago
    • All numbers from The Ancestor's Tale, by Richard Dawkins.
  • We should expect differences too, because different species have adapted to different environments

4. DON'T INDULGE IN EXCESSIVE ANTHROPOMORPHISM OR ANTHROPODENIAL
  • Anthropomorphism is...(p. 24 and glossary)
  • Anthropodenial is ..... (p. 22 and glossary)

5. DO ACCEPT "CRITICAL" ANTHROPOMORPHISM (p. 26)
6. DON'T RELY ENTIRELY ON ANECDOTES


  • Impressive one-off case or story.

7. DO RELY ON APPROPRIATE, WELL-DESIGNED EXPERIMENTS

8. DON'T OBEY MORGAN'S CANON
  • Lloyd Morgan, a British psychologist (1894): "In no case may we interpret an action as the outcome of the exercise of a higher psychical faculty, if it can be interpreted as the outcome of the exercise of one which stands lower on the psychological scale." (pg. 42)
    • Trial-and-error vs. insight (higher)
    • Instinct vs. intelligence (higher)
9. DO DEVISE EXPERIMENTS THAT ARE SPECIES-APPROPRIATE
  • Banana test for intelligence (chimpanzees vs. elephants)--Inside the Animal Mind, Prog. I, ch. 3 (Insight)
  • Mirror test for self-awareness (next time)
10. DON'T FOCUS ON THE PROBLEM OF CONSCIOUSNESS
  • He says he doesn't focus, but wouldn't deny for any species. (read pg. 23)
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OUR AGENDA
Aspects of mind that might be morally important.
  1. Consciousness
  2. Intelligence
  3. Self-awareness
  4. Trapped in present?
  5. Social relations, norm-following, reciprocation
  6. Pain and emotions

CONSCIOUSNESS
  • Meaning. What does the word mean?
  • Metaphysics. What is it? Is it physical, spiritual, neurophysiological, functional, mysterious?
  • Epistemology. What reason is there to think an animal is conscious?  Can we know it?
WHICH ANIMALS ARE CONSCIOUS?
  • Is this cat conscious?  
  • Do we "just know" through empathy?
  • If not, then what's our evidence?
  • What about an octopus
  • How about an insect
  • Next time, more about consciousness, then intelligence


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