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Are animals honest

by gttjohn
Tags: animals, honest
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Ken Natton
#19
Dec17-10, 04:23 PM
P: 272
I have encountered these views many times now, but they do not cease to astonish me. I am experienced enough now to be under no illusions about how much people will not agree with me, but it is nonetheless abundantly clear to me: In terms of the OP, only humans are honest and only humans are dishonest, because only humans are capable of either. Wile E Cayote is sly, he is cunning, but he is not dishonest, because he has not the understanding of what he does and why.

Would you hold a male lion criminally responsible for his behaviour when he kills the cubs of the rival male he has just defeated? Of course not. But it is perfectly reasonable to hold a human being criminally responsible for murderous behaviour, because the human being chose to behave that way. The human being had the capability to make a different choice.
turbo
#20
Dec17-10, 04:32 PM
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Quote Quote by Ken Natton View Post
I have encountered these views many times now, but they do not cease to astonish me. I am experienced enough now to be under no illusions about how much people will not agree with me, but it is nonetheless abundantly clear to me: In terms of the OP, only humans are honest and only humans are dishonest, because only humans are capable of either. Wile E Cayote is sly, he is cunning, but he is not dishonest, because he has not the understanding of what he does and why.

Would you hold a male lion criminally responsible for his behaviour when he kills the cubs of the rival male he has just defeated? Of course not. But it is perfectly reasonable to hold a human being criminally responsible for murderous behaviour, because the human being chose to behave that way. The human being had the capability to make a different choice.
Got to disagree here. Dogs are capable of dishonesty. They are not very good at keeping up the facade under examination, though, and tend to cave in pretty early (unlike the perps on Law and Order). Still, they do things that they think they might be able to get away with, and carry on, until they know that you are onto them.
apeiron
#21
Dec17-10, 06:59 PM
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Quote Quote by Phrak View Post
Social animals both dowl and experience shame just as we do.
Where is the evidence for this?

The nearest we see to shame is submissive behaviours. A sausage stealing dog will cringe submissively when you approach it with the idea that it ought to be feeling ashamed of its dishonesty.

Shame and honesty are human sociocultural constructions - ideas encoded in words. Neurobiologically, the behaviour is simpler. We could rightfully call it submissive responses, or animal cunning, etc.

You can't describe animal feelings or cognition using "watered down" human equivalents. Our mental responses are all framed in language-scaffolded ideas, ideas that evolved in the human sociocultural context. So it is a category error to try to make a one-to-one translation from humans to animals.
disregardthat
#22
Dec17-10, 07:18 PM
Sci Advisor
P: 1,807
In my opinion, lying requires language and an awareness verbal truth and falsity. Lying is therefore to intentionally present a verbal falsity as truth. Animals does not have language, but I guess dishonesty applies to deceiving behavior in general. But is it in general dishonest to intentionally disguise or misrepresent one type of intention through behavior associated with another one? I don't think it is if it all happens on a subconscious level.

I think dishonesty requires a more complex social consciousness, so that honesty is not only behavior in accord with its associated intention, but in addition the awareness of social norms which disallows dishonesty. I therefore think dishonesty may apply to animals such as dogs and chimpanzees. Of course this is speculation, I don't know how dogs or chimpanzees perceives their situation in a social setting.
Phrak
#23
Dec18-10, 06:08 AM
P: 4,512
Quote Quote by Ken Natton View Post
I have encountered these views many times now, but they do not cease to astonish me. I am experienced enough now to be under no illusions about how much people will not agree with me, but it is nonetheless abundantly clear to me: In terms of the OP, only humans are honest and only humans are dishonest, because only humans are capable of either. Wile E Cayote is sly, he is cunning, but he is not dishonest, because he has not the understanding of what he does and why.

Would you hold a male lion criminally responsible for his behaviour when he kills the cubs of the rival male he has just defeated? Of course not. But it is perfectly reasonable to hold a human being criminally responsible for murderous behaviour, because the human being chose to behave that way. The human being had the capability to make a different choice.
I don't care how abundantly clear you wish us to consider your point of view. Why in the world do you think in terms of people's standards of ethics and legality on the issue of deception, or even lies? We and you, your self included, are not generic human beings served up on a pretentious platter of academia. We are people. Do you know what a person is?

What in the world do you mean by 'responsibility'? Where does judgmentalism have a factor in the topic of dishonesty among animals. I get the impression that you consider animals, with the except of your 'humans', are endowed with spiritual superiority: They are only reactive to their environment (they are natural and wonderful), but we nasty, unnatural people ('humans' in your description), are somehow different in an inferior way. I'd like to see you justify this one with your human brain.

But I'd really like to know what school you are attending, what state and country, and what sort of lowly but enlighten human has influenced your point of view, because you scare me.
Phrak
#24
Dec19-10, 03:46 AM
P: 4,512
Sorry. Animal and nature adoration in the extreme just yanks my chain and it's too late to delete the post.
206PiruBlood
#25
Dec19-10, 04:53 PM
P: 111
I once saw an evolutionary biology lecture online which addressed this topic. I forget the animal, but they lived in groups and would share food. They would venture out daily in search of food and return with their supply to share with the rest. They had some mechanism by which they could tell if an individual had eaten, without sharing, before returning to the group. If they discovered such an individual, the others would not share food for a certain period of time.

I think this behavior might qualify as dishonesty, and I would imagine it is somewhat common for communal species.

Here is the set of lectures if anyone is interested, they are extremely interesting! I believe the episode that I am referring to is the last one titled "selfishness and altruism".

http://academicearth.org/courses/evo...y-and-behavior
trautlein
#26
Dec20-10, 09:22 AM
P: 22
I know that my (now dead) dog would try to lie and trick me. (He was a good dog though). He'd always look ashamed when he was doing it.
WhoWee
#27
Jan6-11, 09:53 AM
P: 1,123
Quote Quote by brainstorm View Post
You don't have to define lying as conscious lying. A lot of lying is done unconsciously by humans in the form of instrumental speech. I.e. people say things to achieve instrumental goals without even bothering to consciously reflect of if they're telling the truth or not. They are just invoking a behavioral pattern they have learned. Oftentimes a store clerk will wish you a nice day as you leave. They probably didn't think about whether they honestly wanted you to have a nice day or not. They're just saying those words as a behavioral habit. In fact, they may have absolutely no interest in you having a nice day, in which case it's a lie. But they didn't THINK about whether their lie was true or not before saying it, so they did it unconsciously. This is basically how animals communicate, imo. They use instrumental expressions to pursue their interests/desire/will. They learn behavioral patterns that are likely to maximize their success. They are not concerned with honesty because they don't have a conscience, imo, only fear of being punished for doing things wrong and hope of being rewarded for good behavior. This doesn't mean that they can't be very clever in their behaviorism and instinctively learn ways of manipulating you in your conscience by studying the rewards and dangers that are in it for them. I.e. they can learn patterns in your behavior and manipulate you to their advantage.
I'm raising a male and female puppy from the same litter. They've both been exposed to the same routines, rules, rewards, and punishments. I've found they behave differently when together as compared to when separated.

If both are engaged in an exciting event (barking at or chasing a visitor, bunny, squirrel, cat, etc.) - they ignore my general commands. When I raise my voice to the male - he responds - she continues until I make a second gesture towards her (raised voice to her, 1 or 2 steps in her direction, or use of the words "watch the Beep-Beep" as we have an invisible fence). On the other hand, if only one of them is engaged with a similar event - they usually respond on the first command.

The same is true when we are outside of the invisible boundary. I can take him just about anywhere without a leash. However, when they are both loose - I need to use a vehicle to keep up. I've never attempted to walk her unrestrained - but she did jump out of the window at a stop sign once (wife pressed the wrong window button) and she just sat on the road - too scared to run?
WhoWee
#28
Jan6-11, 09:56 AM
P: 1,123
As for lying, my pups know when they're engaged in bad behavior. If they have something they shouldn't - they hide and act guilty. If the male is bad - the female is nervous. Regardless of which one is in trouble - the other will run to my feet and (basically) block my path and/or seek attention.
Radrook
#29
Jan17-11, 09:39 PM
P: 334
In reference too self-awaerness, I once read in "Science Magazine" that monkeys always confuse their own reflection in the mirror with another monkey. They growl at their own image, try to attack it, and display all kinds of self-defensive behavior at what they consider another monkey. In contrast, the chimp will realize that it's himself it is observing and begins opening its mouth to examine its own teeth and otherwise showing self recognition.
thephysicsman
#30
Jan26-11, 02:17 PM
P: 89
Quote Quote by gttjohn View Post
do animals lie are they dishonest ,or is this just kept for humans ,,,i know its a strange question
I don't think honesty can be applied to animals, since honesty requires free will.
brainstorm
#31
Jan26-11, 02:56 PM
P: 1,117
Quote Quote by Radrook View Post
In reference too self-awaerness, I once read in "Science Magazine" that monkeys always confuse their own reflection in the mirror with another monkey. They growl at their own image, try to attack it, and display all kinds of self-defensive behavior at what they consider another monkey. In contrast, the chimp will realize that it's himself it is observing and begins opening its mouth to examine its own teeth and otherwise showing self recognition.
Is it self-recognition or just making a cognitive connection between the image in the mirror and corresponding objects that are being reflected? The chimp may not actually identify with its image or even its own body. It may have a total object-orientation and no sense of personal "self" is involved.
ektrules
#32
Mar9-11, 05:08 PM
P: 46
Quote Quote by thephysicsman View Post
I don't think honesty can be applied to animals, since honesty requires free will.
I don't believe in free will. I'm also pretty sure that humans are animals :)

This is a mostly philosophical question. Does honesty require consciousness? What is consciousness? Does honesty require a sense of morality? What is morality? Etc...

I would say no, animals are not always honest. Things like camouflage and sneaking are a form of deceit. I don't think deceit even requires consciousness. I think at least some animals could be considered conscious though. Humans certainly are. Other animals that seem to think similarly to us seem to be conscious too. Chimps and dogs for example. Some other animals seem to think so differently than us that it's hard to relate our ideals to the way they think.
WhoWee
#33
Mar9-11, 05:37 PM
P: 1,123
Quote Quote by brainstorm View Post
Is it self-recognition or just making a cognitive connection between the image in the mirror and corresponding objects that are being reflected? The chimp may not actually identify with its image or even its own body. It may have a total object-orientation and no sense of personal "self" is involved.
Since we began this thread, I've been paying closer attention to the behavior of my pets. The puppies watch quite a bit of television - everything from cable news to cartoons to animal planet. They respond to all animal shapes - even the cartoons. However, they are most demonstative in their behavior when they see other dogs.

They've also learned to identify the theme music to several commercials. The male wakes up from a sound sleep everytime he hears the Traveler's insurance spot featuring a dog that sings "trouble". Every time he hears the music, he runs for a toy or a mouthful of his dry food. The female stands on her hind feet and cries every time she hears the "ComfyControl Harness" spot.

As for the mirror - they don't bark at their own images any longer - perhaps no longer a threat?

As for their honesty, they engage in very specific behavior when their food bowl is empty, when they need water, and when they need to go outside. Failure to respond to the outside signal will net an honest production of proof.


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