Future Pets

John K Clark (johnkc@well.com)
Tue, 21 Apr 1998 20:58:14 -0700 (PDT)


On Tue, 21 Apr 1998 Dan Fabulich <daniel.fabulich@yale.edu> Wrote:

>Anthropomorphizing a bit, aren't we?

Nothing wrong with that, anthropomorphizing is a useful tool, of course like
any tool it can be misused. I don't think my dog is just like me, but I don't
think he's completely different either.

>The behaviors animals adopt towards one another are genetically
>based and not at all memetic,

Not true, if it were animals would be in no need of a brain. Most animals
that were born in captivity can never be released into the wild because they
don't have the education to survive. A songbird that has never heard another
bird only develops a stilted much simplified version of the song
characteristic of its species. The song of the Humpback Whale consists of
extremely elaborate variations on a simple theme, a Bach Fugue does the same
thing and is no more complicated. The song changes from year to year,
different tunes top the pop charts, and the difference is even greater from
decade to decade, as great as the change in musical styles from Classical to
Swing to Jazz to Rock.

>Why not try Dawkins's _Selfish Gene_?

A terrific book, one of the very best.

>My whole point is that animals have no qualms over killing one
>another if it is in their own self interest

Not so. It would be in the self interest of a bitch to kill her puppies, yet
she does not do so.

>animals are MORE ruthless than humans: at least some of the humans
>think they're killing for a noble cause.

They're the most dangerous sort, but regardless, do you have any evidence
that animals think differently in that regard?

>I will stand by this point until you can find me an animal which
>understands and respects property rights. (Not urinating indoors
>does not count.)

Why not, seems an important point to me.

I've also noticed that when I walk my dogs on my (our) property and they meet
a strange dog they're usually aggressive and the other dog submissive, but
when we're far from my home the situation is reversed.

>I would not find it at all acceptable if you killed another human,
>even if you ate them afterwards. (In fact, especially not in that
>case.) So why exactly should we grant animals the same license?

We don't. Sometimes humans engage in cannibalism but it's rare, the same is
true of all mammals.
John K Clark johnkc@well.com

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