Sunday, February 7, 2010

Are Animals Volitional? The Orangutan and The Hound

Not only do I love this video because it brings a smile to my face, but it possibly answers the question; are animals volitional?

Many people argue that animals are not volitional, and that they act only on instinct.  They claim humans are the only volitional creatures on earth.  This video makes me question the accuracy of that logic.

The orangutan voluntarily gives half its food to the hound.  Why? 

I think the orangutan loves the the dog, values his friendship and the fun they have together.  As such, it is a value to the orangutan to bring the dog pleasure by feeding him.  I think the decision to feed the dog is a volitional one, not instinctual.

Granted, an orangutan is a highly developed, highly evolved primate, but it is not human, and I can’t help but wonder what evolution may have in store for other highly developed creatures.

I also think it’s important to point out that animals, no matter what level of volition they may evolve to have, do not deserve special rights or rights over those of human, individual rights, unless and until such a time comes that they understand what rights are and are able to respect them.  I don’t think that will happen anytime soon, for orangutans or otherwise.


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