Do Animals Have Feelings Essay

Unlike people, pets cannot tell us that they are happy or anxious. It's clear some people have a soft spot for animals. So, human cultures and individuals base their sense of repugnance for the taking of innocent human life upon manufactured dogma, which itself is a false fabrication.Advocate: But thanks to neuroscience, we know that all mammal brains are similar with respect to the overall organization. But the bleeding-heart agenda really rears its head whenever I see postulates passed off as self-evidently true. As you well know, a few cultures take a different moral view of the relative moral worth of animal life, compared to human life.Simplicity is not a standalone criterion for inference to the best explanation but has to be balanced against explanatory breadth. Our very existence, and the comfort we feel in knowing we are the most powerful and complicated beings whose actions are always already justified, is entirely dependent on the embedded assumption of animal difference and inferiority.

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Skeptic: To make this convincing, you need to specify the kinds of behavior that cannot easily be accounted for by reward and threat mechanisms, and to show that animal brains are capable of the appraisals that contribute to emotions in human brains. Not to mention subsidies for industrial agriculture and relentless propaganda.

Until then, it is better to remain at least undecided about whether animals have emotions. You are perfectly welcome to assume a sentimental motivation for our interest in animal psychology, but why would we not assume that your disinterest is motivated by a desire to feel okay about eating a burger?

Do non-human animals such as cats, dogs, and chimpanzees have emotions like happiness, sadness, fear, and anger?

What kind of reasoning is required to justify the judgment that animals have emotions?

Anyone who has ever had a pet cat or dog knows that feeding them and petting them makes them happy, whereas dangers make them afraid and angry. There is no doubt that such animals can be rewarded and threatened, but their behavior is no guarantee that they are experiencing the emotions that people have. It reminds me of the philosophical problem of other minds, where the skeptic says, "I know that I have a mind, but how can I possibly know that anyone else has a mind? The relevant kind of argument is what philosophers call inference to the best explanation, which is the standard way in science and everyday life of arguing about the existence of something you cannot directly observe.

" Skeptic: The parallel between arguments about other human minds and ones about animal minds is not good because other people are much more similar to you than cats and dogs are. Most scientists believe in atoms because that hypothesis provides the best explanation of many phenomena in chemistry and physics. Fact is, there's no real evidence to support the notion animals feel emotion.With respect to these, the neuroanatomy of mammals is sufficiently similar to that of humans to provide analogy-based support for the inference that animal emotions are the best explanation for their behavior. People love their cats and dogs, so they naturally want to be loved back." I think most of us are no longer interested in the self-righteous glee of those who choose to interpret our interest in the full range of animal experience as a desperate attempt by animal lovers to feel less lonely.Skeptic: But the analogy remains weak, and you still haven't recognized that the alternative explanations of animal behavior based on reward and threat mechanisms are simpler than the attribution of emotions, making fewer assumptions about mental states. Indeed it is a bizarre feature of so many human minds to be incapable of imagining a motivation for a behavior or inquiry that is not directly tied to some reciprocated reward.Advocate: We are not talking about such emotions that depend on complexities of language and culture, but about much more basic emotions such as happiness, sadness, fear, and anger. Anxious: Using the brain to understand and treat fear and anxiety. "I suspect that your real reason for wanting to believe in animal emotions has nothing to do with inference to the best explanation.These do not require a linguistically and culturally mediated appraisal of the situation, merely that an animal can have some nonverbal ways of appreciating whether its goals such as food and safety are being satisfied or threatened. It's just a motivated inference: you want to believe that animals have emotions because you want them to feel about you the way that you feel about them.People love their cats and dogs, so they naturally want to be loved back. The alleged empirical rationality that considered animals to be automata also sought to use evidence and a parsimonious explanation to prove the biological, intellectual, and moral inferiority of people of African descent.Advocate: Even if people have this motivation, it does not undermine the basic logic of the inference. To suggest that your interpretation of the existing evidence cannot be corrupted is ahistorical and pretends that the very fabric of our society and psychology does not depend on hierarchies of being that use things like species, race, and nationality as criteria.For cats and dogs, we can explain their behaviors merely on the basis of reward mechanisms and threat response mechanisms that operate in all animals, including humans. Hi Eric, This is purely theoretical, but would you as a skeptic accept using people at the top end of the empathy quotient scale (particularly emotional reactivity) as a way of assessing emotions in animals? if someone with a highly developed mirror system in the brain that processes emotions in other people with marked brain activity in this region produces the same level of activity when engaging with animals as evidence of emotions in animals? And other human religious texts and doctrine as well.When a cat is purring or a dog is wagging its tail, this response results from neural activity in its reward centers such as the nucleus accumbens. You say, "Killing an animal does not hold the same moral weight as killing a human." Who says? Here's the problem: The Bible and all those other religious texts and utterances are demonstrably false narratives which are categorically impossible.Here is a dialogue between an advocate of animal emotions and a skeptic.Advocate: It is obvious that humans are not the only animals that have emotions.


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