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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
1) Do you think that animals have the capacity to act morally?
or
2) Do you have any personal experience with compassionate animals that are pets, in zoos, or even wild? Feel free to share your stories.

TED speaker Frans de Waal lectures about the "Empathy, cooperation, fairness and reciprocity" of our ape cousins. It's very entertaining and actually funny throughout.

Frans de Waal bio:
Dr. Frans B. M. de Waal is a biologist and primatologist known for his work on the behavior and social intelligence of primates. His first book, Chimpanzee Politics (1982), compared the schmoozing and scheming of chimpanzees involved in power struggles with that of human politicians. Ever since, de Waal has drawn parallels between primate and human behavior, from peacemaking and morality to culture. His scientific work has been published in hundreds of technical articles in journals such as Science, Nature, Scientific American, and outlets specialized in animal behavior. His popular books – translated into fifteen languages – have made him one of the world’s most visible primatologists. His latest books are Our Inner Ape (2005, Riverhead) and The Age of Empathy (2009, Harmony).
De Waal is C. H. Candler Professor in the Psychology Department of Emory University and Director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Center, in Atlanta. He has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (US), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. In 2007, he was selected by Time as one of The Worlds’ 100 Most Influential People Today, and in 2011 by Discover as among 47 (all time) Great Minds of Science.
 

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I remember my rehomed cat (see avatar) when I went through a really hard breakup he was there for me and was a shoulder to cry on. He knew I was in pain I know he did.
 

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Fact: human beings are animals

I believe "morals" are productive, and adhering to different morality systems has a positive net impact on society. Reason being, in watching the show Beyond Scared Straight, I realized that human beings in relatively anarchic institutions/societies, will act just like animals (nonprison example = Somalia and piracy). I'm not even sure we have actually evolved to the point of being superior to other animals, considering what will happen as soon as rules and laws are taken out of the equation.

Altruism? Nope. Various animals, mostly dogs, have altruistically sacrificed themselves to save humans, usually children, from predators such as mountain lions and bears. Compassion? Like mentioned, animals have the "sense" to know something is wrong with you, and will make themselves available to assuage your emotions. Most humans don't realize it, but when it comes down to it, they are hedonists/egoists, just like animals, not thinking about the adverse affect of their actions, instead, thinking about if/how they can get away with it. See: criminality.
 

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I believe that animals do have morals, but can attack when threatened (just like humans). If you train an animal to do what you believe is moral, then the animal can do that too.
 

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1) Do you think that animals have the capacity to act morally?
or
2) Do you have any personal experience with compassionate animals that are pets, in zoos, or even wild? Feel free to share your stories.
Yes and yes.

I wasn't able to find a video for it (besides crappy sensationalize poo from animal planet or national geo, whateves), but does anyone recount the toddler who fell into the great ape habitat? As the child were crying in agony the alpha male approached the toddler and stood by scarring off the other apes until the child were finally rescued? Or the cliche dog saving his/her owner in dire situations? It's not as if we evolved into morality. And if you believe this then you probably sorely underscore life and evolution. Isn't far more beneficial majority of the time to help when hierarchy status isn't in question? And what about mother chimps who unfortunately have had deceased children. Why exactly would they carry around the cadaver of the dead child? Could this be... a mourning process?!

My own experience with morality in animals is probably the same as everyone else. Having a bad day and either the dog or the cat is on my case nudging me into a somewhat better mood. And I swear to god I've seen my dog smile at me, once or twice wink at me which is funny, because I wink back and the dog is totally wtf?! with his head cocked.
 

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Since we are all trained to act predictable and like each other, we have morals. And when you train a dog to sit or to cross it's paws or sit obediently? Um...no. The dog has no clue why he's doing it except he has been conditioned and rewarded for it. There is a reason animals only have hind brains. I personally detest morality because it makes you act Proper.....so, that being said, I say no, and in circumstances they may appear to be moral. But this is an aspect of that animals already created personality. Animals aren't exposed to thoughtful morality because they have no cerebral cortex. Without that persuasion of moral focus from another of its kind, the dog is just a dog. Without moral awareness at all.
 

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Whether or not the functioning piece of a higher mammalian brain are there, what would cause an animal to act irrationally or counter to normal instinctual behavior if the act conducted were selfless? There is nothing special about humans outside of technical prowess. Morality is a label to something all animals have to face and are inherited to, humans just act in such a way leisurely due to the comforts given in first and second world nations. We are not struck with difficult decisions such as wildlife in a heavily deconstructed environment, or even humanity for certain. Just for the reason of to ration off nutrition or hoard it for oneself is not on the human agenda, and these difficult decisions do not have to be made by our own peers (first/second world nations), I feel it is justifiable that animals, despite being nothing more than animatron bodies, have a higher morality perception than my own peers. And further were persons who have seen atrocities capable of being committed. Genocide is not restricted to the human strain. Altruism is not restricted to the human strain. It seems the question posed is on the dimensions of morality set by human understanding then what it actually takes to commit a moral decision. Saying this, are animals necessarily capable of understanding the repercussions of actions done, with or without the moral spin? I doubt it, but it's not as if we are as far sighted either.
 

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One time I drove up over this steep hill and right smack in the middle of the road was my dog hooked up with the neighbors dog and they wouldn't move no matter how many times I honked. Unscrupulous, if you ask me. And oh so unmoral.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I remember my rehomed cat (see avatar) when I went through a really hard breakup he was there for me and was a shoulder to cry on. He knew I was in pain I know he did.
I owned a little black Dwarf Lopear rabbit during high school. He was a great little companion but he also seemed to be able to tell when I was out of sorts. Any time I was feeling angsty or heartbroken over a girl he would nuzzle against the side of my head and lick the bottom of my chin.

It really startled me at first because here was this little rabbit comforting me of its own accord. I just felt very touched to have such an unexpected friend.
 

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Morals...I'm not sure. Morals seem like a decided upon value. I do think animals have feelings and emotions, though, at least some of them, but not really morals. I've heard other cases of pets seeming to be comforting people when they are upset, it's an interesting thing
 
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No.


(Not at all)
 
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1)Yes.

2). There are many recorded cases of dogs refusing to eat their (usually elderly)dead owners and dying along side with them because they had no food, discovered later by police.

Chimps have also displayed mourning over the death of other chimps and have been observed carrying out something like a funeral.
 

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Moral:
adjective
of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical: moral attitudes.

Animals have emotions and and a sense of empathy.
They don't have morals. Morals is an understanding of rights and wrongs. It require a level of abstraction they can't achieve.
 

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I guess they have. There is a wild cat around our hause who always fights with males. But this cat brings food and cares about a little lonely cat whose mother is not here. Plus, when you save an animal, he thanks you by his language, believe me.
 

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1) Do you think that animals have the capacity to act morally?
or
2) Do you have any personal experience with compassionate animals that are pets, in zoos, or even wild? Feel free to share your stories.
One of my all time favorite books is by Mark Twain - "The Mysterious Stranger"
"...the infliction upon man of the Moral Sense; the ability to distinguish good from evil; and with it, necessarily, the ability to do evil; for there can be no evil act without the presence of consciousness of it in the doer of it."

Animals have no moral sense, therefore nothing an animal does is wrong or right. We believe (as humans) that we know right from wrong and are therefore able to do right or wrong.
 

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Do animals have limbic systems? I thought it was all amygdala. IDk
 

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Most humans lack morals, and our species is the only one on the planet capable of conceiving of them. :dry: It's rather depressing when you really think about it.
 
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