Do animals have feelings?

#11
The only bar moving is what anthropomorphized behaviors count as consciousness or feelings. You know, instead of just mirror neurons doing what they're meant to do, without any planning, reasoning, thought, or feelings involved. Dogs are predisposed to being social animals, pleasing an alpha. Dogs bond with humans mainly because we are a source of food...including the treats used to train them. You know, basic survival instinct. Mirror neurons and survival instincts do not change, as opposed to your just-so stories and anecdotes.

And thinly-veiled insults only illustrate fallacious reasoning. I would put my dog training skills up against just about anyone. My dog can shake hands, shake off, sit, stay, bark, "talk", high-five, lay down, jump up, pickup/drop things, take things to people, play drums, show what she wants, give paws to be cleaned when coming inside, etc. all by command...including some that are only hand gestures or nods and/or looks. She can answer "yes" with a shake, catch balls and Frisbees, and doesn't leave the yard, even when chasing a squirrel, cat, rabbit, or mailman (without any command to restrain her), and understands "not right now", "wait for a commercial", "go check the mail", "want to go out", "cat", "bunny/rabbit", etc..

Most dog owners would call some, if not all, of that consciousness or feelings. I know better, which is why I'm a good trainer. Birds just have conditioned/learned behavior mediated by mirror neurons that give the anthropomorphic impression of "concern". They are only mirroring the other bird's instinctive panic to being trapped and behaving as they would in that situation, knowing what they do from their perspective/experience.

Animal instinct is simple...imbuing it with human emotions/thoughts is just silly.
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#12
(Feb 14, 2019 03:42 AM)confused2 Wrote: After years of interacting with hamsters I have absolutely no doubt hamsters are 'conscious'.


In contrast to the usual alternative of nothingness... By just having private manifestations associated with their sensory processing and neurological states they would count as "conscious" in the way that David Chalmers has emphasized for three decades. Whereas a view descended from methodological behaviorism might go the reverse and deem a robot which lacks experiences to still qualify for awareness solely in terms of it having sufficient outward actions and responses to its environment.

When a hamster "feels pain" the external body signs might be there along with its own hidden phenomenal character of suffering. But what it appears to lack at first glance is the extra level of relational meanings and understanding mediated by language that humans have about their own hurtful presentations. However, taking into account animal communication...

Quote:Hamsters don't normally vocalise in our hearing range (another story there) so if your pet hamster starts squawking you can be pretty sure they have a problem. Allow for enough empathy for me to know Hamster wants to be taken out of the cage and for him to jump into my hands to be taken out. So the hot and unhappy hamster is put in a box while we try to find the problem - how did I know the problem was in the cage? - the hamster told me as I held him - he was fine out of the cage - so we had to look in the cage. After a while I noticed something moving in the cage - he wasn't alone in there - he'd got bedlice. More hoovering and cleaning went on in his cage and in the room around him than in a decade before or after.

Even wild turkeys have a surprisingly complex communication system given the obtuse stereotyping of their domestic brethren. Because of the introspection barrier, it's unknown whether or not an individual bird could even be privately "thinking" sometimes in a very limited way with the sounds and visual gestures they signal to each other with. (Similar to that aural monologue going on in our heads without any need of vocal cords, albeit the number of concepts we entertain with such is staggeringly greater than what a turkey could ever be manipulating.)

Joe Hutto: Learning the language of turkeys (video)
https://youtu.be/0deHvUC-2zg
https://theawesomer.com/talking-turkey/493191/

My Life As A Turkey (documentary re-creation of his experiment)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Life_as_a_Turkey

Hutto: "Their language and their understanding of the ecology shows a remarkable intelligence. But their ability to understand the world goes much further than just communication. I came to realize that these young turkeys in many ways were more conscious than I was [certainly with regard to many items and events which the birds noticed first in the outdoor environment they navigated together, anyway]. I actually felt a sort of embarrassment when I was in their presence - they were so in the moment - and ultimately their experience of that manifested in a kind of joy that I don’t experience and I was very envious of that. I was learning new things about turkeys everyday."

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#13
Do animals have feelings? Well I am one and yes I do. I think that means have emotions. Oh but wait, I'm special..... I not only have emotions but I am also aware of my existence. Good thing I'm special this way, otherwise I might just walk off a cliff one day without thinking. Should I fear/loathe/welcome death if I'm aware of my existence? All three? I can't believe the non-specialized animals loathe or welcome death so perhaps that's the big difference as far as feelings go. I can contemplate death (my non existence) along with my life (existence). I can also ponder a non-physical existence. Let's see another animal do that.

Before a relatively intelligent animal like a whale beaches itself and dies, is it aware of its existence? If you watch Orca hunting close to shore, they just don't swim wildly up onto the sand to snatch rock sausage (seals). Are they carefully calculating & weighing the odds before making a decision? Requires some knowledge and mental abilities I would hope to think. A prelude to being aware or not aware? Does displaying those kinds of mental gymnastics mean one is aware, yes/no? If not then awareness is a special thought and in a circular way I'm right back where I started...imagine that.

Edit: Am I to believe that evolution has only once in 3.5 billion years, OK the last 500 million if you like, designed a thinking organism? Doesn't matter if over that time evolution has designed innumerable variations of physical adaptations, be it camouflage, fins, or anything you can name that befits a living creature, there has only been one thinking adaptation?  Do we like to think that because we are aware, intelligent and capable of adapting to just about anything nature can throw at us, that only one type of thinking mechanism has ever evolved with consciousness? How do we know evolution has not designed other conscious models, some of whom may be inhabiting the Earth as I type?

Then again, something like this might create an interesting Vegan dilemma.  Big Grin
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#14
(Feb 15, 2019 04:48 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: Edit: Am I to believe that evolution has only once in 3.5 billion years, OK the last 500 million if you like, designed a thinking organism? Doesn't matter if over that time evolution has designed innumerable variations of physical adaptations, be it camouflage, fins, or anything you can name that befits a living creature, there has only been one thinking adaptation?  Do we like to think that because we are aware, intelligent and capable of adapting to just about anything nature can throw at us, that only one type of thinking mechanism has ever evolved with consciousness? How do we know evolution has not designed other conscious models, some of whom may be inhabiting the Earth as I type?

Then again, something like this might create an interesting Vegan dilemma.  Big Grin


Seriously, the idea should actually be pushed to see how ideological veganism or "foes of carnism" responds. It's no more outlandish than certain things being entertained in the anti-modernism era by the Socially Conscious Church itself.

Quote:Do animals have feelings? Well I am one and yes I do. I think that means have emotions. Oh but wait, I'm special..... I not only have emotions but I am also aware of my existence. Good thing I'm special this way, otherwise I might just walk off a cliff one day without thinking. Should I fear/loathe/welcome death if I'm aware of my existence? All three? I can't believe the non-specialized animals loathe or welcome death so perhaps that's the big difference as far as feelings go. I can contemplate death (my non existence) along with my life (existence). I can also ponder a non-physical existence. Let's see another animal do that.

Before a relatively intelligent animal like a whale beaches itself and dies, is it aware of its existence? If you watch Orca hunting close to shore, they just don't swim wildly up onto the sand to snatch rock sausage (seals). Are they carefully calculating & weighing the odds before making a decision? Requires some knowledge and mental abilities I would hope to think. A prelude to being aware or not aware? Does displaying those kinds of mental gymnastics mean one is aware, yes/no? If not then awareness is a special thought and in a circular way I'm right back where I started...imagine that.


The robot Kismet publicly displayed facial emotions without actually having any in the internal or private sense. The social robots of today are surely a lot better at deceiving some of us or encouraging anthropomorphism, and those of tomorrow will literally be having human activists fighting for their rights as "persons". (The social justice crusade never ceases to have a frontier -- there are always "next in line" causes to fight for.)

We started out ourselves as participants in the overall game of animals exploiting each other to survive... So later when civilization came along, both scientific presuppositions and philosophical arguments had to be made as to why ethical issues and rights don't apply to those beasts we eventually dominated. Removing feelings from them, etc, being part of that package. (We can only retrospectively view them as being designated the "first robots", though OTOH there were lesser kinds of autonomous machines known back then.)

Setting aside the morality/rights reasons and its own necessity to be more important than the short-lived individual, society's mainstream conviction that there are other minds or many minds (with respect to humans at least) can be undergirded by a belief in the "the natural world properly or coherently hanging together". Will circuitously return to that in a bit.

Using an example like the emotionally deceptive robots above, an epistemological solipsist or whatever kind of ultra-radical empiricist ("show me!"), according to their excessive standards, could thereby dismiss as confirmation even my verbal reports and those from others about our possessing feelings. On the grounds that a claim needs to be "substantiated by directly observing _X_ rather than via non-immediate, intellectual evidence or conclusions outputted by the wandering paths of reasoning". (A great population reporting having the same hidden characteristics would mean nothing more to the unmitigated skeptic than legions of theists popularly reporting that they were privately in touch with God.)

Thus opening up the the problem of other minds. The latter is probably most often dispelled by generic rationalists (not suffering from that aforementioned disdain for inferential activity "validating" something) by appealing to the supposed uniformity of nature, it's underlying coherence across variations and distance, its amenability to being rationalized with generalizations and overarching principles. "Since other humans have the same type of brain as myself, composed of the same array of elements, conforming to the same universal rules... then if I have experiences concomitant with my bodily processes then such should also be the case with everyone else."

However, while that might specifically address people... The whole spectrum of creatures with brains can have both in-common properties and differing brain structures, sizes, and functions (in addition to an unbridled skeptic's dismissal of outward body activity not being "proof" of possessing private manifestations and higher cognitive abilities). That's one gap in the door that promotion of our specialness is inserted through in past attempts to privilege us in terms of certain aspects of consciousness. But our advantage seems to be only in terms of degree of intelligence and metacognition rather than a monopoly on possession of feelings and a sense of self.

Animal brains v human brains – let the Battle of the Brains commence!

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#15
CC.... enjoyed the link you provided re animal brains. Some truly ‘special’ brains out there. Don’t know about you but I have a certain disdain for the thought we possess the most special, one of a kind brain in the world. Anthropomorphism doesn’t bother me near as much as thinking we’re special does. I mean what else are we going to compare to? When Ralph Wiggins says “I’m special” I wonder how many people think of a mental handicap instead of a satirical metaphor?

People who say their pet has feelings aren’t doing anything wrong in my estimation. In this universe, feelings may be more common than there are pets. Besides, if our pet shares the same feelings then it should make us less special. IOW, who’s feelings are actually being shared?
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#16
Shame looks painful, doesn't it?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iq9c99aCxE

Are other animals aware of death?

Quote:Even if long-lived creatures as intelligent as elephants and chimpanzees do recognize that the dead are gone for good, they may not recognize that death eventually will come for all, a knowledge that may be solely human. Still, Anderson says, “Pining or grieving for a dead relative or friend is possible without any knowledge of death.” An important point, because if some species share our painful awareness of the permanent loss mortality brings, then death may be a greater equalizer than anyone previously suspected.


Tree of knowledge? She didn't die but she knew she would at some point. Big Grin
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#17
Animal hierarchy....In the fight for dominance, how does the loser know when to quit? Besides injury or pain.....Intimidation, hopelessness, fear, or what? No emotions involved?
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#18
(Feb 15, 2019 04:48 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: Am I to believe that evolution has only once in 3.5 billion years, OK the last 500 million if you like, designed a thinking organism?


Backtracking to that... As far as an outright technological degree of sapience being predetermined to arise in the course of overall biological activity... That's why some are skeptical about there being other alien intelligences in our galaxy (of that specific kind and level, anyway).

It took billions of years just for complex life to arise on Earth, and even then it required the rare, chance convergence of multiple environmental factors upon primates over millions of years -- and contingent cultural influences late in the game -- to finally yield a progressive tool builder/user with self-programming abilities. Neanderthals and Denisovans were locked in the same, unchanging lifestyle for hundreds of thousands of years -- going nowhere.

And modern humans weren't much better till some miracle of abstract symbolism functionality developed in their brains. Yet still they had to bumble onto agriculture after tens of thousands of years to truly exploit that with a non-nomadic society. The Greeks (and arguably China if not for its bureaucracy) got right at the threshold of a potential scientific civilization, but then stalled or slid back. IOW, that wasn't a given either -- dependent on the convergence of just the right combination of institutional and economic factors.

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(Feb 16, 2019 01:07 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: People who say their pet has feelings aren’t doing anything wrong in my estimation. In this universe, feelings may be more common than there are pets. Besides, if our pet shares the same feelings then it should make us less special. IOW, who’s feelings are actually being shared?


Yah, if there weren't precursors in animals for human psychological and sociological affairs to build upon, then the latter would be a milder case of brute emergence (new features suddenly appearing, fully mature, without in between stages). Evolution requires a building-block stratum for structure and pattern to arise and mutably inhere in, and usually a sequence of incremental developments to get from A to Z.

There are genes and even contributing epigenetic factors that are like switches -- if flipped they can produce an extra appendage or enzyme, or cause an alternative option like feathers instead of scales. But a whole suite of totally novel characteristics already coordinated with each other and operating at peak efficiency doesn't abruptly arise from toggling (existing switch circumstances would also have been flipped several times in the past).

Brute emergence is also why pan-proto-psychists dislike the popular explanation of there being special algorithmic activity (performed by either neurons or integrated chips) which conjures the experiential phenomena of consciousness in magic-like fashion. (Not to mention that it sneakily equates to traditional claims in the dualism sphere of thought -- where a soul or whatever is summoned and acquires concomitancy with a body at a certain stage of embryonic or fetal development.)

In the case of psychological furniture like emotions and internal-oriented somatic feelings, there can again be purely functional, absent qualia versions of those, which again deceptive robots can demonstrate. (Their outward body behavior causes an observer to erroneously infer that they are experiencing pain, grief, remorse, etc -- even humans lie about that via acting, but they at least possess the capacity for it to be genuine).

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(Feb 16, 2019 05:00 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: Animal hierarchy....In the fight for dominance, how does the loser know when to quit? Besides injury or pain.....Intimidation, hopelessness, fear, or what? No emotions involved?

During their supposed mating periods, I've seen male guineas pursue rivals on the run (after a fight) until the latter drops dead in the heat. If a human doesn't intervene to stop it -- though even then they go right back at it afterwards or later. Other times both parties will just quit from exhaustion, if the pursuer(s) become as near-fatally exhausted as the fleeing bird.

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#19
I would agree that, to the extent all emotions are unbidden instinctual reactions, animals are likely capable of all the physiological analogs to "feelings", in the human sense. They just lack any internal contextualization.
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#20
(Feb 16, 2019 08:20 PM)Syne Wrote: I would agree that, to the extent all emotions are unbidden instinctual reactions, animals are likely capable of all the physiological analogs to "feelings", in the human sense. They just lack any internal contextualization.

Contextualization? You mean like this?
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