What do dogs think are people

The dog feels but does not think

Anyone who takes a closer look at animals becomes humble. Animals have developed fantastic abilities in the millions of years of their existence: Depending on the species, they are faster and stronger, they see, hear and smell better, treat their offspring lovingly, and find their way around safely on land, in the air and in the seas.

"They relate to themselves, that is very clear, they relate to their own position in a horde in the ranking, that is, the individual animal knows about its location, the individual animal knows its location within a tiered horde and can accordingly act."

In addition, says Reinhard Brandt, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Marburg, animals have self-confidence. It just makes no sense if living beings feel pleasure and pain, but are not at least rudimentarily aware of these feelings.

Are these achievements sufficient to speak of a thinking living being in an animal? No, says Reinhard Brandt. Animals may achieve fantastic things, but there is one thing they cannot do: make judgments. An example: people always refer to reference objects when they think, they think about something, about a chair for example.

"And with this reference we use a form of predication, we say the chair is blue, with many thousands of variations, and we are of the opinion of these statements, assertions or judgments that in every human language there is always an affirmation as well must be able to give a negative. Then comes a critic who says, no, it's not blue at all, the chair. "

That is exactly what animals cannot do. You are unable to assign predicates to objects - the chair is blue - and at the same time to be aware that others - humans or animals - may see the chair as green.
Although hardly anyone contradicted this thesis at the Philosophical Book Symposium at the University of Frankfurt am Main, it provoked criticism. Henrike Moll from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, objects that there are many other types of communication besides judgments:

"For example, there is thanking the other person, asking questions to the other person, we make invitations to other people and ask them to do us a favor, or we just make conversation. So if I tell you, nice Weather outside today, then I am not inviting you to check this assertion for its correctness, but simply to get into a conversation and I might expect you to comment on that as well and respond something to it. "

What is not a fundamental criticism of Reinhard Brandt's position: animals can neither make judgments, nor ask questions, nor have conversations. Henrike Moll sees the making of judgments simply overrated in this context. Wrong, says Brandt, who proves that human culture is inconceivable without judgment. Animals do not take part in this world, they are at best objects of our research.

Even in view of the sometimes spectacular cognitive abilities, Brandt does not see animals as thinking beings. The same applies to deception maneuvers, which are teeming with in the animal kingdom. The Marburg philosopher objects that plants also trick and deceive:

"That means that one plant does something that is beneficial for its continued existence by pretending to be poisonous. Darwin uses this to describe a natural phenomenon that can be easily identified, but which we then use the illusion metaphor to describe. It works then from the plant to the animals that are definitely not strategically conscious, and the question is, where does that end up? "

An interesting side aspect is the question of whether babies - they can't even think either - and animals move at least for a certain period of time at the same stage of development. Henrike Moll is skeptical:

"So, for example, when it comes to causality, to understanding the physical world, it has long been said that the child and the monkey or other animals are on a par for a certain period of time and that their development is similar. But the question is open ask whether the child does not choose a completely different approach and not also understand the physical world differently, namely in causal contexts, while the animal only creates associations between situations and brings different things together perceptually. "

Bottom line: animals cannot form judgments, so they cannot think either.

"Well, that is what is required of a thinking being, and I don't know of any example that forces me to accept that in the case of animals."

This ends the discussion, although there are still many practical questions lurking in the background. About our relationship with animals. They may not be able to think, but they always have emotions. And anyone who has ever seen pictures from slaughterhouses knows how much animals suffer. Among the philosophers - and not only there - such topics are currently not popular:

"The lip service is also there, and this problem is also discussed among philosophers and it is said, yes, we should actually adapt and change our everyday handling of the animal accordingly and be more sensitive, protect the animal better, but that is also the case destroyed or forgotten with the next order in the restaurant. "