Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Intelligence

Class was cancelled today.  We will discuss intelligence on 2/2 or possibly later.

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


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Introduction

SYLLABUS
  • You can find the syllabus at the tab above and at Canvas.  Please read it through carefully!  
CELL PHONES & LAPTOPS
  • No cell phone usage during class. 
  • Laptops are discouraged. They can distract you and the people around you.
COURSE TOPICS
  1. PRACTICES.  One of our tasks in this course will be to study and evaluate specific ways that we treat animals.  We'll be talking about eating animals, doing research on animals, and five more practices that presentation groups will be choosing and researching.  
  2. ETHICS.  Before we reflect on practices, we'll need to think about the moral status of animals. Do they count, morally, like people do?  Or less?  Or not at all?  We'll be studying historical and contemporary views on that topic.
  3. ANIMAL MINDS.  But before we study the moral status of animals, we'll need to study some aspects of their minds that have been thought to be relevant to their moral status. 
  4. LAW.  Once we've studied animal minds, ethics, and practices, we'll finish by discussing how animals are legally protected and whether they should be more strongly protected.
WAYS OF KNOWING
This is a "ways of knowing" class because we'll be studying animals from multiple disciplinary perspectives. When we study animal minds, our main guide will be Frans DeWaal, a primatologist.  When we study ethics, we'll read a wide variety of ethicists.  When we study the law, we'll read a number of legal scholars.    
PRESENTATIONS
Groups of five will be choosing presentation topics.  Suppose your topic is rodeos.  Your presentation will require:
  • Visiting a site in the community--e.g. going to a rodeo.
  • Doing research--e.g. you'll find out more about rodeos, using your own materials and readings I can suggest.
  • Doing a class presentation that includes a debate--e.g. you'll debate whether or not rodeos are ethical.
  • Today we'll talk about possible topics and next time you'll sign up for a topic. Next week I'll give you detailed instructions about preparing for and doing presentations.
ANIMAL MINDS  & MORAL STATUS
We're studying animal minds in depth because ethicists very often use claims about animal minds as a basis for making assertions about the moral status of animals.  Here are some claims about animal minds and some moral conclusions that have been drawn from them.
click to enlarge
We'll talk about the claims about moral minds for several weeks and then talk about the moral inferences.
FRANS DE WAAL




  • First reading assignment
  • How can we know anything about animal minds?
  • What stance should animal psychologists adopt?
  • Use the reading questions (tab above)
INSIDE THE ANIMAL MIND (DVD)
  • We'll watch program 2 (emotions), chapters 1-4.