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Thread: animal morality

  1. #1
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    animal morality

    does anyone think that animals are able to show more primitives levels of morality, is there a religion that beleives this?

    the reason i asked was because of some programs that had me thinking, on one a hippopotamus(ugh) rescued a young deer from a crocodile(which would be understandable if it was from its own species), on another one it showed the ant species polyergus which is known to take slaves after their battles and of course the stories of dolphins rescuing shipwrecked sailors

  2. #2
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    Re: animal morality

    Quote Originally Posted by coosjoaquin
    does anyone think that animals are able to show more primitives levels of morality, is there a religion that beleives this?

    the reason i asked was because of some programs that had me thinking, on one a hippopotamus(ugh) rescued a young deer from a crocodile(which would be understandable if it was from its own species), on another one it showed the ant species polyergus which is known to take slaves after their battles and of course the stories of dolphins rescuing shipwrecked sailors
    As Spock on Star Trek would say, "Fascinating, Jim." This was a central question in the recent "Hippo on Trial" thread, where a hot-headed hippo attacked a friendly explorer on National Geographic.

    To determine morality in hippos, ants, or dolphins, we might require knowledge of their motives in the actions they took:

    (1) Did the hippo intervene for the deer our of pure compassion?
    (2) Did the ants themselves regard their combatants as slaves?
    (3) Did the dolphins act because of a conscious intent to help humans?

    In short, if moral behavior requires a conscious moral choice, did these creatures make such a choice? Or was the behavior pure instinct in action?

    Does a seeing-eye dog who leads a blind man to his job say "This man is in a quite vulnerable state. I could easily bite him, or I could lead him safely to his job. I think I will safely lead him to work, because, as my mom taught me, this is clearly the right thing to do."

    I don't know that any formal religions affirm that hippos, ants, dolphins, and dogs are moral agents. National Geographic seems to deny such an idea, because the channel completely exonerated the killer-hippo on the grounds that it had no moral capacity at all.
    Last edited by rp3miler; 08-24-2007 at 10:00 AM.

  3. #3
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    Re: animal morality

    ever notice how pets 'take on" the personalities of their owners!?does this suggest a transference of some qualities of mind that are learned by the commitment of/to LOVE!?cant see it,taste it,hear it or test it but the EFFECTS are well known!?if 1 has the CAPACITY for OBJECTIVE observation!?and this capacity seems irelevent to any other means of human measurement for fitness/ability in life!?hehe!!...just askn....
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  4. #4
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    Re: animal morality

    Quote Originally Posted by coosjoaquin
    does anyone think that animals are able to show more primitives levels of morality, is there a religion that beleives this?

    the reason i asked was because of some programs that had me thinking, on one a hippopotamus(ugh) rescued a young deer from a crocodile(which would be understandable if it was from its own species), on another one it showed the ant species polyergus which is known to take slaves after their battles and of course the stories of dolphins rescuing shipwrecked sailors
    I think Animism would come closest to answering your question.

    animism /ˈnəˌmɪzəm/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[an-uh-miz-uhm]

    1. the belief that natural objects, natural phenomena, and the universe itself possess souls.
    2. the belief that natural objects have souls that may exist apart from their material bodies.

    But I still wouldn't attempt to project "human" moral-ism upon an animal such as a hippo or dolphin. Wild animals may have some form of morals but I certainly wouldn't expect their morals to be like our own.

    Perhaps the hippo merely saw a threat and acted upon it as it would at any other time, it just so happened that at this time there happened to be a deer in the middle of it all.

  5. #5
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    Re: animal morality

    Quote Originally Posted by rp3miler
    As Spock on Star Trek would say, "Fascinating, Jim." This was a central question in the recent "Hippo on Trial" thread, where a hot-headed hippo attacked a friendly explorer on National Geographic.

    To determine morality in hippos, ants, or dolphins, we might require knowledge of their motives in the actions they took:

    (1) Did the hippo intervene for the deer our of pure compassion?
    (2) Did the ants themselves regard their combatants as slaves?
    (3) Did the dolphins act because of a conscious intent to help humans?

    In short, if moral behavior requires a conscious moral choice, did these creatures make such a choice? Or was the behavior pure instinct in action?

    Does a seeing-eye dog who leads a blind man to his job say "This man is in a quite vulnerable state. I could easily bite him, or I could lead him safely to his job. I think I will safely lead him to work, because, as my mom taught me, this is clearly the right thing to do."

    I don't know that any formal religions affirm that hippos, ants, dolphins, and dogs are moral agents. National Geographic seems to deny such an idea, because the channel completely exonerated the killer-hippo on the grounds that it had no moral capacity at all.
    The thing that surprised me about the hippo is that it did show what would seem compasion, it attacked the crocodile as it held the deer, after the crocodile left the deer was unconcious on the floor and the hippo kept trying to give it gettle nudges to try to see if it would get up


    of course theres always that problem of anthropomorphism(as AT has quite rightly noted)

  6. #6
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    Re: animal morality

    then there's the asian/indian religious belief in reincarnation with a "catch"!?if you act below your human station in life,you are reborn in a lower life form!?and as i was readin your account of the "moral" act of a hippo,i couldn't help but think......i know some "people" just like that!?and while i'm on the subject i just watched the PBS show with emperor penguins and noticed that the group was a stronger influence on so called moral decisions and possibly overrides the individuals inclination to morality!?the example is,a penguin chick was left behind to die as the herd moved on forced by the change in living conditions!?this also sounds alot like human society in general!?just another "hint" that the real source of all knowledge(morality!?)lies outside the physical forms!?hehe!!....just askn...
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  7. #7
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    Re: animal morality

    Pet camel kills Australian woman while trying to have sex
    The Associated Press


    Alleged suspect enjoys a post-coital cigarette at the crime scene (Photo: AP)

    BRISBANE, Australia: An Australian woman was killed by a pet camel given to her as a 60th birthday present after the animal apparently tried to have sex, police said Sunday.

    The woman, whose name was not released, was killed Saturday at her family's sheep and cattle ranch near Mitchell, 600 kilometers (350 miles) west of the Queensland state capital Brisbane, state police Detective Senior Constable Craig Gregory said.

    The 10-month-old male camel — weighing about 150 kilograms (330 pounds) — knocked the woman to the ground, lay on top of her, then exhibited what police suspect was mating behavior, Gregory said.

    "I'd say it's probably been playing, or it may be even a sexual sort of thing," Gregory said, adding the camel almost suffocated the family's pet goat by straddling it on several occasions.

    Camel expert Chris Hill said he had no doubt the camel's behavior was sexual.

    Hill, who has offered camel rides to tourists for 20 years, said young camels are not aggressive, but can be dangerous if treated as pets without discipline.

    The fate of the camel was not known.

    The woman was given the camel in March as a birthday present from her husband and daughter. "She had a love of exotic pets," Gregory said.
    http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/...ller-Camel.php
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  8. #8
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    Re: animal morality

    "She had a love of exotic pets"

    Yes, that's obviously true - one pet anyway.
    Scientists animated by the purpose of proving that Nature is purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study. - Alfred N. Whitehead

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