Animal Emotions

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Animal Minds and the Foible of Human Exceptionalism

Human exceptionalism, the belief that human beings have special status based on our unique capacities, is misleading and has serious social, political, and environmental consequences for how we treat other animals and their homes. We need to be more humble and act with greater compassion and empathy for other beings. Read More

Amen! This is why I am

Amen! This is why I am constantly recommending "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn, along with several of your excellent posts. Keep up the good work!

For a further discussion of human exceptionalism

Check out Lori Gruen's new book, Ethics and Animals, which includes an insightful analysis of human exceptionalism in addition to many other topics relating to developing more empathetic relations between humans and other animals.

It seems you are arguing the opposite...

You state that humans are not exceptional.

However, you appear to argue that only humans are arrogant and evil in ways that other animals are not. It sounds like speciesist to me... almost verging on "non-human animal supremacism".

Instead, it would be more logical to argue that humans are indeed exceptional (perhaps not in kind but degree), at least to the extent that we can reason about the ethical treatment of other living beings in ways no other animal can. It is this exceptional quality that allows you to be posting here your thoughts (and not a chimp or a dolphin or a bee or a horse...)

Yes, all living beings are worth of our moral consideration. But it is only when we (humans) recognize our responsibility for their (non-human animals) fate that treatment of animals and the environment will improve.

Declaring equality is not a remedy.

Your intentions are good, but you are deeply mistaken in your position.

Dario, when it comes to

Dario,

when it comes to suffering, humans and other animals are equal. it all comes down to the golden rule of treating other beings as we wish to be treated. humans haven't needed to use animals and animal products to survive for some time now yet the atrocities of killing animals for food, draining their bodily fluids, flaying them for their skin and vivisection continue. the human race will not survive let alone evolve until these cruel, barbaric and unsustainable institutions are abolished.

"We can see quite plainly that our present civilization is built on the exploitation of animals, just as past civilizations were built on the exploitation of slaves."   - Donald Watson

I do not think so...

"When it comes to suffering, humans and other animals are equal."

No doubt animals can suffer. Nobody denies that. But because of our cognitive abilities humans can suffer in ways other animals can't.

If a young mother is diagnosed with a terminal type of cancer she will suffer enormously at the prospect of not being able to take care of her children, at failing to be there in their future, not seeing them grow up and have families of their own.

No, I don't think human ability to suffer is the same as that of all other animals.

"it all comes down to the golden rule of treating other beings as we wish to be treated."

Animals cannot behave in such a way either. I am not saying that this means we can do with them as we please. But it simply means they cannot be equal moral agents as human beings.

"No doubt animals can suffer.

"No doubt animals can suffer. Nobody denies that. But because of our cognitive abilities humans can suffer in ways other animals can't.

If a young mother is diagnosed with a terminal type of cancer she will suffer enormously at the prospect of not being able to take care of her children, at failing to be there in their future, not seeing them grow up and have families of their own."

the suffering you are pointing out is not physical in nature. it is ego based and therefore self-induced. it is far different from the kind of suffering that is imposed on millions of innocent, enslaved and exploited animals on a daily basis just so humans can satisfy our selfish and greedy desires: meatvideo.com.

"Animals cannot behave in such a way either. I am not saying that this means we can do with them as we please. But it simply means they cannot be equal moral agents as human beings."

it is because humans have a choice that we should be guardians of other creatures instead of horrendously cruel masters torturing and slaughtering them. if the human species is going to survive, we must evolve out of the anthropocentric ways of our past and accept that humans are also just animals. the ninth-century islamic sufi saint Misri says, “Never think of anyone as inferior to you. Open the inner Eye and you will see the One Glory shining in all creatures.”

Suffering

"the suffering you are pointing out is not physical in nature."

Let us assume what you say is true. Are you saying then that such suffering should not count at all? It is not relevant that humans can suffer in ways other non-humans animals can't?

But, as it turns out, much research indicates that such suffering is mediated by the same structures in the brain that are involved in the perception of physical pain. Arguably, such psychological suffering is therefore physical suffering too.

"it is because humans have a choice that we should be guardians of other creatures"

I agree. Humans are exceptional in this respect. It is only by noting this that we will be able to assume responsibility. This, however, does not mean that the all living beings deserve equal moral consideration.

“Open the inner Eye and you will see the One Glory shining in all creatures.”

This is meaningless to me.

"When it comes to suffering, humans and other animals are equal."

Anonymous wrote:
"If a young mother is diagnosed with a terminal type of cancer she will suffer enormously at the prospect of not being able to take care of her children, at failing to be there in their future, not seeing them grow up and have families of their own.

No, I don't think human ability to suffer is the same as that of all other animals.

"it all comes down to the golden rule of treating other beings as we wish to be treated."

Animals cannot behave in such a way either. I am not saying that this means we can do with them as we please. But it simply means they cannot be equal moral agents as human beings.


I was the young mother with cancer, I will tell you, along with my human children, I feel responsibility to protect all children, human or not human. They are all innocent, being abused by sociopaths in society. I would NEVER want an innocent to die just to save my life. And really, we DO know what gives us cancer, genetically modified foods, environmental toxins by the millions, abusive oppression, it is only common sense, and I feel that the greed (only humans can feel)destroys any reasoning to use science and intelligent methods for research.

Clarification ...

thanks dario - i'm not sure which version you saw but this is a new paragraph i added at the end making it clear that we and other animals are exceptional - and i'm not declaring equality - all the best, marc

The time has come to debunk the myth of human exceptionalism once and for all (for further discussion see, for example, Lori Gruen's Ethics and Animals). It's a hollow, shallow, and self-serving perspective on who we are. Of course we are exceptional in various arenas as are other animals. Perhaps we should replace the notion of human exceptionalism with species exceptionalism, a move that will force us to appreciate other animals for who they are, not who or what we want them to be.

Dario Ringach believes that

Dario Ringach believes that humans "can reason about the ethical treatment of other living beings in ways no other animal can." Dario himself, however, is quite incapable of this reasoning, seeing as he experiments on non-human animals and vocally supports vivisection.

I can reason...

I can reason and I can certainly articulate my position.

The fact that I arrive at a different conclusion that yours -- that animals are worth of moral consideration but not the same as that of other human beings -- doesn't imply that I can't reason.

Yes, I support the use of animals with the goal of advancing medical science and knowledge.

I take that you don't.

Are you or your children vaccinated?

Couldn't agree more

"You don't insult a man if you compare him to an animal - you insult the animal."

Truly this bias way of looking at things is one of the many misconceptions that needs to go. Ironically we treated animals more 'equally' to humans back in the age of colonization - pushing out the natives (animals, however, are still being pushed out of their homes) in the name of some 'superior intellect'. It's the imperial mind I guess - so to make it clear - just because you hold the military power over something, that does not give you the right to abuse it!

It is interesting to see how

It is interesting to see how some humans like Dario can twist their narcissistic mentality. The non human animals still have an inherited relation with nature of compassion and empathy, but some humans have been diseased from environmental toxins and/or no nurturing as a small child, possibly leaving them with this disassociation disorder of emotions. Maybe that's why they like to kill, trying to feel some sort of emotion, but alas, never happens for them. My opinion is they should be euthanized from society, so as not to harm all animals.

Yes, I know...

"My opinion is they should be euthanized from society, so as not to harm all animals."

I just fail to see how that is consistent with an animal rights movement based on compassion for all living beings.

I only have compassion for

I only have compassion for the innocent, never evil beings.

Face meet palm, palm meet face

Good and evil are defined by individuals, so basically you're saying anyone who doesn't abide by your ethics should be euthanized. Believing that you have the absolute right to determine who fits into these categories is far worse than speciesism. (if you devalue the worth of members of your own species based simply on a difference in opinion, you clearly have no business advocating for other species).

Of course, the simple fact that you think animal researchers enjoy killing animals and do it in order to attempt to experience feeling due to a chemically and/or developmentally-induced mental deficiency is pretty much all that's required to discredit the notion that you are even borderline rational.

I personally despise using animals in research, but I recognize the necessity, and endure it for that reason.

Kalama endures

You endure?

How painful it must be.

Sigh.

You do realize that good and

You do realize that good and evil are subjective terms, and what you are basically saying is that anyone who disagrees with your ethics should be euthanized.

Snuffing out life due to a difference in opinion is far worse a crime than believing a rat might not experience things in as complex a way as human does.

“Nothing will benefit human

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”—Albert Einstein

“Vegetarian food leaves a deep impression on our nature. If the whole world adopts vegetarianism, it can change the destiny of mankind.”—Albert Einstein

“Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.”—Thomas A. Edison

"For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love." -Pythagoras

"A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral." -Leo Tolstoy

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Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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