Nonhuman Animals (nonhuman + animals)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Six-month-old infants use analog magnitudes to represent duration

Kristy VanMarle
While many studies have investigated duration discrimination in human adults and in nonhuman animals, few have investigated this ability in infants. Here, we report findings that 6-month-old infants are able to discriminate brief durations, and, as with other animal species, their discrimination function is characterized by Weber's Law: proportionate difference rather than absolute difference between stimuli determined successful discrimination. Importantly, paralleling results found with nonhuman animals, the Weber function that we found for infants' discrimination of time is the same as that found for their discrimination of number. Infants discriminated durations of an audiovisual event differing by a 1:2 ratio, but not those differing by a 2:3 ratio, over a range of durations. This suggests that (a) in human as in nonhuman animals, the same mental mechanism may underlie the ability to measure duration as to represent number, and (b) we may share this mental mechanism with other animal species. [source]

Associative learning in animals: A selective review of recent topics and contribution of Japanese researchers1

Abstract:, This article addressed several important topics in the field of associative learning in nonhuman animals: event contingency, associative retardation (learned helplessness and irrelevance), occasion setting, renewal of extinguished responses, acquired equivalence and distinctiveness, differential outcome effect, and retrospective inference. These topics have been studied with Pavlovian and instrumental conditioning preparations as behavioral test tubes for assessing animals' cognitive abilities. The empiric data are suggesting highly cognitive abilities of animals in event processing. This article also reviewed studies conducted by Japanese psychologists taking the modern associationists approach. Although activities of Japanese researchers in this field of research are high, they are required to make a more unique contribution to the field. [source]

How do nonhuman animals perceptually integrate figural fragments?1

Abstract:, Visual information available from the environment is often fragmented in time and space. Integrating such fragmentary information is essential for animals to recognize meaningful objects surrounding them. It has been well-documented that humans perceptually organize visual inputs. In nonhumans, on the other hand, little has been known about their process of perceptual organization. This paper focuses amodal completion in nonhuman species as one of such processes. So far, several nonhuman species including primates, rodents, and birds have been tested for amodal completion of a variety of stimuli. Positive results have been obtained in most of the species tested. In particular, nonhuman primates have been suggested to share many characteristics of this process with humans; a notable exception is pigeons. They have been shown to fail to complete with a variety of stimuli in a variety of procedures. However, this may be understood as a nature of this species adapted to their ecology. Surprising differences in perception in species that share many cognitive characteristics such as memory, concept formation, figure recognition, and so on, advises us to pay more attention to the correlation of perceptual systems and the way the species live in. [source]

Animals, Pain and Morality

ABSTRACT While it is widely agreed that the infliction upon innocents of needless pain is immoral, many have argued that, even though nonhuman animals act as if they feel pain, there is no reason to think that they actually suffer painful experiences. And if our actions only appear to cause nonhuman animals pain, then such actions are not immoral. On the basis of the claim that certain behavioural responses to organismic harm are maladaptive, whereas the ability to feel pain is itself adaptive, this article argues that the experience of pain should be viewed as the proximate cause of such occasionally maladaptive behaviour. But as nonhuman animals also display such maladaptive traits, we have reason to conclude that they feel pain. Hence, we have reason to hold that it is indeed possible to inflict needless pain on nonhuman animals, which would be immoral. [source]

Inbred women in a small and isolated Swiss village have fewer children

Abstract Despite overwhelming evidence for a negative effect of inbreeding on fitness in plants and nonhuman animals, the exact nature of its effect in humans remains subject to debate. To obtain a better understanding of the effects of inbreeding on reproductive success in humans, we reconstructed the genealogies of the current inhabitants of a small and isolated Swiss village and used these to estimate the level of inbreeding of both members of all married couples, as well as their relatedness (i.e. the level of inbreeding of their offspring). Although there was no effect of parental relatedness on the number of children a couple had, we found that inbred mothers, but not inbred fathers, had significantly fewer children. Thus, although related couples did not have fewer children themselves, their inbred daughters did leave them with fewer grandchildren. Thereby, we provide evidence for the existence of inbreeding depression in human fertility, also in relatively outbred and egalitarian communities. [source]

Evolution and Free Will: A Defense of Darwinian Non,naturalism

John Lemos
In his recent book The Natural Selection of Autonomy, Bruce Waller defends a view that he calls "natural autonomy." This view holds that human beings possess a kind of autonomy that we share with nonhuman animals, a capacity to explore alternative courses of action, but an autonomy that cannot support moral responsibility. He also argues that this natural autonomy can provide support for the ethical principle of noninterference. I argue that to support the ethical principle of noninterference Waller needs either a libertarian or a compatibilist theory of autonomy. I then go on to argue that, contra Waller, the libertarian view is both compatible with Darwinism and able to make sense of how autonomous acts belong to the agents who perform them. Thus, I conclude that the libertarian position is a live option for Darwinians. If however, naturalism is taken to include a deterministic view of the universe (at least at the nonquantum level), as is often the case, then my article takes some strides in defending "Darwinian non,naturalism." [source]

The Descent of Shame,

Shame is a painful emotion concerned with failure to live up to certain standards, norms, or ideals. The subject feels that she falls in the regard of others; she feels watched and exposed. As a result, she feels bad about the person that she is. The most popular view of shame is that someone only feels ashamed if she fails to live up to standards, norms, or ideals that she, herself, accepts. In this paper, I provide support for a different view, according to which shame is about failure to live up to public expectations. Such a view of shame has difficulties explaining why an audience is central to shame, why shame concerns the self as a whole, and why the social rank of someone affects their ability to shame others. These features, I argue, are best explained by reference to the descent of shame in the emotion connected with submission in nonhuman animals. The function of submission,to appease relevant social others,also throws light on the sort of emotion that shame is. From the point of view of other people, a subject who experiences shame at her own failing is someone who is committed to living together with others in a socially sanctioned way. The argument is not that we must understand the nature of shame in terms of what it evolved for, but that its heritage is important to understanding the emotion that shame has become. [source]

Evolution, Theodicy and Value

Robin Attfield
In the first section I present a disagreement between a number of scholars (including T.H. Huxley, G.J. Romanes, George C. Williams and Holmes Rolston) concerning the goodness, indifference, evil or even wickedness both of nature and of nonhuman creatures. Section 2 examines and rejects the response to these diverse judgements that values are generated by human valuers employing different perspectives. In Section 3, the thesis that nonhuman animals are commonly either wicked or immoral is considered. The next two sections address the value or disvalue of predation and parasitism, and then of waste, selfishness and suffering. In the Section 6 I conclude that the evolutionary system of nature has vast overall value, and that although there are widespread evils within it, the only significant alternatives are a lifeless world, a world without sentient life, and a world of constant supernatural intervention, all probably worlds without such a positive balance of value as the actual world. [source]