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Article: The Kindness of Beasts

Article: The Kindness of Beasts

Article: The Kindness of Beasts

For the philosophically minded.

Can animals make decisions based on morality? Everyone who actually lives with animals will answer this question in an instance, without hesitating. There is ample evidence of animals behaving morally, yet humanists and other anthropocentric narcissists insist on the most illogical of all conclusions: animals can’t have rational thoughts (like us great, superior humans), therefore their behavior can’t be morally guided.

Personally, I’m not quite sure. I think psychologist Jonathan Haidt made a solid point in his book “The Righteous Mind” when he said that our reasoning mind has not much to do with the decision-making (which he attributes almost exclusively to intuition), but it rather explains and justifies those decisions – pretty much like the US president makes the decisions, but his press spokesperson is the one who (afterwards) has to present them to the public, rationalize them, defend them, explain them and justify them. Haidt states that most decisions are made long before the reasoning part of our thoughts is finished explaining it to ourselves. The reasoning mind is more of another layer with not much influence on its own.

In this light, this could mean, to use the example of the Colombian dog from the article (that risks his life to pull an injured companion through the traffic of a busy intersection), that we humans can no more stand by the side of the road and objectively make a case as to whether we should save our friend or not than the dog. The real decision is made instinctively through intuition, everything else is the work of the press spokesperson. This would explain why we ‘rescue a baby from a burning house’ even though rational thought would us advise not to do so. The dog also intuitively decides to rescue his friend, and who knows, maybe he silently finds rational reasons for this decision afterwards.


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