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Do animals exhibit genuine morality ?

Posted on Friday, 16 November, 2012 | Comment icon 43 comments | News tip by: Hasina


Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

 
New research suggests that social animals such as dogs and cats can choose whether to be good or bad.

Scientists have often debated whether pets such as cats snuggle up to their owners because they are showing genuine emotion towards them or if their behaviour is driven purely to elicit food and attention. Researcher and author Mark Rowlands believes that animals are indeed capable of a sense of morality, can exhibit genuine emotion and are able to make a conscious decision on how to behave.

"Animals are owed a certain kind of respect that they wouldn't be owed if they couldn't act morally," said Rowlands. "I think what's at the heart of following morality is the emotions. Evidence suggests that animals can act on those sorts of emotions."

"The book, "Can Animals Be Moral?" (Oxford University Press, October 2012), suggests social mammals such as rats, dogs and chimpanzees can choose to be good or bad."

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 Source: Live Science


  Discuss: View comments (43)

   


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #34 Posted by Chooky88 on 18 November, 2012, 14:20
I forget the source but trust me. They did a 2 rat experiment. Every time rat1 presses a lever he would get food and rat2 would receive an electric shock. When rat1 saw this he went hungry rather than cause rat2 (who was a stranger), any pain. The interesting human moral point is the scientists destroyed both rats at the end of the experiment. This is because a new experiments results would be tainted by the last one. Rats had higher morals than humans in this example.
Comment icon #35 Posted by Odds on 24 November, 2012, 10:32
Argue that isn't some sort of sense of morality.
Comment icon #36 Posted by redhen on 24 November, 2012, 19:23
I forget the source but trust me. They did a 2 rat experiment. Every time rat1 presses a lever he would get food and rat2 would receive an electric shock. When rat1 saw this he went hungry rather than cause rat2 (who was a stranger), any pain. The interesting human moral point is the scientists destroyed both rats at the end of the experiment. This is because a new experiments results would be tainted by the last one. Rats had higher morals than humans in this example. Yes, this experiment was documented in Frans de Waal's book Primates and Philosophers; how morality evolved.
Comment icon #37 Posted by JGirl on 24 November, 2012, 19:28
my unscientific opinion is that animals are people. even bugs.
Comment icon #38 Posted by JGirl on 24 November, 2012, 19:33
Almost all animals, especially dogs and cats, have feelings. That means they can love, but i don't think they have the ability to choose whether they will love a human or not. i don't think humans have the ability to choose whether the will love or not either. i think we can choose to deny love by closing off, but when you feel love for someone it isn't because you decided to. it comes to you. with dogs and cats i imagine they make that 'decision' based on a number of factors directly related to the person is question, and i think we as humans pretty much come upon it the same way
Comment icon #39 Posted by Likely Guy on 25 November, 2012, 2:49
Earlier today I came across this story (from last year) about a widowed mother goose and a protective deer. http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2011/04/buffalo_cemeterys_webcam_track.html The deer, somehow, knew that the nest had to be protected and made a decision to do so. Seems like morals to me.
Comment icon #40 Posted by Space_Jockey on 25 November, 2012, 4:06
Well, I've seen some stuff. I saw a stray dog chase away a stray mother cat, but it's kitten was left behind, as soon as the dog saw the kitten, it seemed to 'like it', gently licked and felt it and maybe worried for the little guy.
Comment icon #41 Posted by jbefumo on 27 November, 2012, 18:40
Anyone who argues that animals are devoid of spirit probably lacks a soul themselves.
Comment icon #42 Posted by CuriousGreek on 29 November, 2012, 18:11
i don't think humans have the ability to choose whether the will love or not either. i think we can choose to deny love by closing off, but when you feel love for someone it isn't because you decided to. it comes to you. with dogs and cats i imagine they make that 'decision' based on a number of factors directly related to the person is question, and i think we as humans pretty much come upon it the same way Well, i agree with you, but what does happen, when you break-up with someone? In the end you'll be trying to overcome your feelings about him/her and that's probably one way of controlling... [More]
Comment icon #43 Posted by leupgaru on 13 December, 2012, 8:53
animals are more prone to love than be evil but scientits, yes scientits are sooo smart they will immediately give their so called undeniable conclusions to what transpire to such behavior of an animal that acts or behave as not to be expect from an animal. example, the lion that adopts a deer. the leopard that killed the mother baboon and adopts the baby baboon. the hippo that gave a mouth to mouth recessutation to that small deer the crocodile almost ate but died later.


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