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Philosophical Thoughts on the Nature of Dogs - Essay Example

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Philosophical Thoughts on the Nature of Dogs

The fundamental question of an issue like this rests on the fact that it is impossible to communicate with these animals – you cannot ask a dog what it thinks or how it would like to be treated, and so we form (often incorrect and anthropomorphic) assumptions of their wants and desires, as exemplified by widespread and ridiculous practices such as leaving a television on for a bet for “company” while its owners are away, as if a flashing screen and random noises would provide comfort to an animal that primarily identifies its comrades by smell and shape. Our lack of ability to communicate directly with animals has led to a vicious debate about the ownership of pets, whether this constitutes animal cruelty, and especially whether treating animals differently than humans (such as allowing for their ownership and control) is a kind of discrimination that is analogous to sexism and racism – acceptable now because of ignorance and social mores, but morally reprehensible when examined critically or through a lens of time. There are many arguments both for and against the ownership of pets being considered a form of discrimination, but I believe that a thorough understanding of the issues involved, along with a reference to The Fundamentals of the Metaphysic of Morals by Emmanuel Kant can demonstrate that pet ownership is not morally reprehensible. There are ample arguments to be made that the way humans currently treat animals is inhumane (well, it is certainly inhumane under a literal definition – we treat them differently than we treat humans) and that this is morally reprehensible. One of the fundamental philosophical arguments is that humans are animals, and that by drawing an arbitrary line we make an artificial distinction where there is none, such as was made during the years of scientific racism (Dawkins 34). Furthermore, a though experiment can help develop this theme further: what if the intermediate species between humans and other apes, such as Australopithecus Aphaeresis, did not die, but were still alive today? Would we feel comfortable vivisecting them for medical research, as is currently done on chimpanzees (Nibert 7)? The answer is probably not, because they are so human like (). But then, we admit that the line is somewhat arbitrary – that at some point we decide that something is far enough “below” humans that their worth is fundamentally lessened, but above that point it is not? This is certainly an untenable position philosophically speaking, because there is very little that categorically separates humans from other animals – many other animals use tools, have some form of verbal communication (it has even been argued that Orcas have a form of symbolic language), can solve puzzles, do simple math and so on. Furthermore, humans have a fundamental inability to understand what is actually going on in an animal’s head – we can only surmise based on our own assumptions of their cognitive abilities. Yet this should make humans think that they must be exceedingly cautious in the dealing with Animals, to ensure that we are not accidentally committing slaver, oppression or genocide (Barilan 22). The analogous situation would be to imagine a species of aliens observing earth that have a completely different form of communication and cognition. They might not be able to imagine our communication or actions as intelligence or ...Show more


Your Name Prof’s Name Date Philosophical Thoughts on the Nature of Dogs We see animals all around us, but rarely do we actually take time to think about exactly what their nature is, and what our role in interacting with them can be. This might be especially true of the animals we tend to take the most notice of – pets such as cats and dogs…
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