From: Adrian Teo (email@example.com)
Date: Thu Dec 26 2002 - 20:52:03 EST
Hello and Merry Christmas to you John,
Adrian wrote: "It is extremely tempting to ascribe human emotions and
thoughts to animals who behave like us, and as scientists, we have to
extra careful and critical."
While I agree, it is also very tempting to apply "nothing
buttery" to the
question and claim victory for "scientific objectivity,"
AT: You seem to want to support two contradictory positions
here. Can't have it both ways. We need a set of criteria to prevent
falling on either the side of radical skepticism or anthropomorphism.
At the very least, one needs positive experimental evidence of higher
cognitive abilities in animals, beyond mere naturalistic
observations. To my knowledge, the most ambitious projects with such
an aim are the sign language research on primates. And what we have
after decades of research is that these animals are highly mechanical
in their expressive language, and they do much better with receptive
language. The discontinuity between modern humans and any other
species is so striking that it would take an incredible leap of faith
to sustain an argument for psychological continuity.
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