An Intelligent Debate.

Essay by lysieboo4uUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, October 2003

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An Intelligent Debate

There has been an ongoing debate

between scientists and philosophers

concerning the potential of nonhuman

animal intelligence. This essay will

provide a brief view of both sides

most compelling arguments.

Many philosophers, such as Rene

Descartes , believe that nonhuman

animals are thoughtless creatures of

instinct and reflex. Descartes argues

that speech is definitive of thought.

The lack of speech such as in

nonhumans, he believed, is proof that

humans are the only intelligent

creatures. There are obvious flaws in

this view if one takes into account a

talking parrot, for example. To such

and objection Descartes would respond

with the simple argument that the

parrot has no language, but is simply

able to mimic auditory noises that

reward him upon successful

completion. Descartes is not alone in

his holdings for nonhuman

intelligence. Some scientists explain

that many of the fetes performed by

nonhuman animals from the behaviorist

standpoint that accredits animal

behavior to simple stimulus response

reflexes. Assuming this to be true,

the reason your dog will run to the

kitchen when you get his food is his

conditioned response to the stimulus

of you entering the kitchen. Another

proposed explanation for the way

animals behave, not conceptually far

from behaviorism, is a trial and error

method explanation of behavior.

Scientists that support this claim

will use an explanation of repetitive

attempts to accomplish any task until

a successful attempt is realized.

This suggests that there is no

contemplative quality to the process

other than success or failure.

The opposite side of this view has

many reasons for its support of

nonhumananimal intelligence. One of

the most impressive is that of mental

mapping. Demonstrated in various

species, mental mapping shows the

capacity for nonhuman animals to have

a mental concept of the...