After my post yesterday on fallibilism; I started to contemplate on animal’s capability to make logical decisions, and compared them humans. I didn’t dwell on this theory until I received a comment from Her stance behind humans ability to make logical decisions and the philosophical doctrine of fallibilism; was any logic or reasoning by humans is fallible. She credits reason, memory, and emotion as examples for why humans are unable to obtain absolute truth. This comment brought my earlier theory to the forefront of my mind. My conclusion was animals have superior logic and reasoning skills. Animals possess these superior skills, because they do not make their decisions based off memory, emotion, and perceived objective and subjective facts.

 When lions are confronted by a pack of hyenas trying to steal their kill, they do not retreat based off the emotion of fear; this is likewise for the hyenas decision. The lions/hyenas are able to break down the situation, and make their decision based on logic. If they choose to retreat it is not due to emotions, it is their ability to know they are outnumbered. They understand the statistical odds of their survival, even if they are not aware of their capacity to break down complicated math formulas. If food is scarce and hunger kicks in, they are able to adjust their logic based on the probability of starvation if they do not stand and fight. These decisions are based off a finely tuned trial and error turned into instinct which is passed on to each generation, creating perfect logic.

 If we look at human beings fondness of war, death, and destruction; we discover humans are incapable of passing down our trial and error lessons. The sad part is we have history books reminding us of the futile efforts of such behavior, yet we are unable to learn from past mistakes. Ignoring these lessons from our past, is a result of emotions such as; greed, pride, anger, intolerance, and hate. Logically Hitler had to know the genocide of the Jews; because he was denied into art school didn’t make any sense. He had to know there was truly no difference between him and the ones he aimed to eliminate. Logically he had to know there was no way Germany had a realistic chance at taking over the world. To Hitler all these things were logical. The decisions he made were based off emotion which he rationalized into logic.

 Birds, fish, and various mammals do not migrate out of need; they do so out of necessity. Geese don’t migrate south for the winter because they feel like it. Geese know they will not survive the winter if they felt like sticking around. They make the logical choice and fly south. Salmon do not have an urge to swim to the same location every year to mate and lay their eggs; they do so to continue their species. Humpback whales do not migrate to Alaska because they want to visit; they go there so they can eat. You get the idea.

 Humans on the other hand choose to stick around in places which prove to be destructive to them. If we look at all the impoverished, war consumed, starving people in third world countries. Logically they must know their chances of survival are not great, yet they stick around. I understand some may feel they do not have a choice to leave, but realistically there is always a choice. If our ancestors migrated to greener pastures so can these people.

I am sure if I were to do conduct studies of animals; I would find fallibility in their instinctual logic. The examples I gave clearly show; animals think in a more logical manner than humans. I would love to engage in some philosophical discussions on this topic.

  1. Rebekah Elling says:

    You should meet my cat’s they may disprove your theory. Although I do agree with you when it comes to animals in their natural habitats. However, it seems that many times animals become more like their humans in their reasoning. I do believe that animals have emotion, and make decisions based on these emotions.
    A friend of mine has a tiny bambi lab and went for a walk one night and was confronted by a large agressive dog. Instead of turning tail, which would have been logical, the dog protected her owner confronting the other dog.
    When I was living with my parents they had a three legged cat who weighed two pounds. I have a large 15 pound cat, who with his fur looks more like 25 pounds. Logically the bigger cat should have been the dominant one, however smaller cat, with a disability ended up being the boss. She would just look at my cat and my cat would run to me crying.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      At first glance your two examples of domestic animals may disprove my theory, but consider this. In the instance of the dog protecting his owner; we need to realize dogs are packed animals, and have a very structured and protective family order. Our domesticated dogs learn the pack order quickly when they find their owners. They can tell who in the house the alpha male is and alpha females in the family. They not only seek approval from the alphas but also will protect them. Their instinct to protect is dominate over fear. This may seem illogical, but the dog understands it needs its “pack” for food and protection. In the wild wolves rely heavily on hunting in packs; it is as a whole they are able to make kills, which would be impossible as individuals. The domesticated dog still possesses these traits, not to mention they learn they only receive food when given.

      You may have painted me in a box regarding your cat. In the wild there are many different structures. You will find packs and individual species. The only explanation I can think is your cat moved into your parent’s cat territory, or from the beginning the other cat displayed he was alpha and your cat fell in line. I could be way off; I will need to research this.

  2. Andy says:

    One thing to consider in comparing the ability (or lack thereof) to make logical decisions is that in most cases, the wild animal making the decision is doing so within (or not far from) the bounds of an environment that shaped it’s evolution, both physically and behaviorally. Humans, on the other hand, currently exist in a world that is in some cases, almost but not quite entirely unlike the environment that likewise shaped our evolution. But then again, that thought may explain the inherent “illogic” of man, or it may simply illustrate that the apparent logic of a decision just might depend more on the current setting than on the grey matter.

  3. anceo says:

    “Logically they must know their chances of survival are not great, yet they stick around. I understand some may feel they do not have a choice to leave, but realistically there is always a choice. If our ancestors migrated to greener pastures so can these people.”I have to disagree with this statement because there are many factor which prevent people from migration such as border guard(law enforcement),lack of education and opportunity to work in foreign countries(some don’t know about foreign country’s situation),lack of resources for travelling,patriotism(they believe they can improve their own country),etc that migrating might cause more harm than good.It is like saying “If Bill Gates can become billionaire,so can these people become billionaire.”

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