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Do Animals Have Culture?

 
nonverbal
 
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nonverbal
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05 August 2018 10:50
 
Brick Bungalow, to Jan_CAN - 04 August 2018 10:32 PM

I think ethics most certainly references the behaviors you describe but it is not defined by them. I think to have ethics it’s necessary to place normative behaviors in the context of creative imagination. It requires a social structure that weighs second order desires and secondary outcomes. It requires principles that mediate between competitive goods. A mother chimpanzee seems to have compassion and maternal instinct and even altruism but I don’t think she has ethics. I don’t she weighs consequences or references any kind of formal value structure. Her choices are driven by instinct and circumstance alone. Not without egregiously stretching the definition.

I agree with this position. Many nonhuman creatures do, however, have morality, as can be seen as a result of de Waal’s and others’ experiments and observations.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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05 August 2018 16:43
 
nonverbal - 05 August 2018 10:50 AM
Brick Bungalow, to Jan_CAN - 04 August 2018 10:32 PM

I think ethics most certainly references the behaviors you describe but it is not defined by them. I think to have ethics it’s necessary to place normative behaviors in the context of creative imagination. It requires a social structure that weighs second order desires and secondary outcomes. It requires principles that mediate between competitive goods. A mother chimpanzee seems to have compassion and maternal instinct and even altruism but I don’t think she has ethics. I don’t she weighs consequences or references any kind of formal value structure. Her choices are driven by instinct and circumstance alone. Not without egregiously stretching the definition.

I agree with this position. Many nonhuman creatures do, however, have morality, as can be seen as a result of de Waal’s and others’ experiments and observations.

Hmm. We may have competing definitions. Would you suggest that animal communities have morality in the sense that they represent and uphold codes of behavior not intrinsic to their biology and not dictated by immediate circumstance? Or codes that are transmitted culturally that must over ride natural instinct… as is the case with much of human ethics?

I agree that they have attributes similar to empathy, compassion, solidarity, self sacrifice and so on but I don’t know that they possess the kind of reflective preference that I associate with a moral system. I will definitely look into if further though.

[ Edited: 05 August 2018 16:47 by Brick Bungalow]
 
nonverbal
 
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nonverbal
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05 August 2018 18:31
 

I’m no expert, Brick. I can only refer you to:
Good Natured, the origins of right and wrong in humans and other animals, Frans de Waal, 1996

 
 
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13 August 2018 15:28
 
Brick Bungalow - 31 July 2018 11:13 AM

Animal communities exhibit a wider and wider array of behaviors formerly thought to be exclusively human as we are able to study them more closely. There are facsimiles of weddings, funerals and baby showers. There are turf wars and occupations and pseudo economies and possibly even something like religious devotion. (I realize the inherent fallacy of projecting an anthropocentric meaning here) Lots of things seem like facets of culture.

My intuition is that they don’t have culture. They have behavioral characteristics that travel across species and happen to be shared by humans. Human culture assimilates animal behavior but animals do not have culture because their behavioral changes are not dynamic in the way that human behavior is… as far as I can tell.

Does anyone have evidence to the contrary?

my intuition is that humans don’t have culture. They have behavioral characteristics that travel across individuals and collectives and happen to be conceived of as “culture”.

 
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