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luigirovatti's avatar

How can we have respect for animals, if not all of them are able to feel emotions?

Asked by luigirovatti (557points) November 8th, 2017

I explain more clearly: I heard that the hypothalamus or amygdala is what allows animals to have feelings. The problem is that only vertebrates (mammals, and some birds) have that organ in the brain. It’s really all a question of evolution. There are some animals that have them, some that don’t. But here’s the thing: until now, I thought that all animals were capable of emotions, but if the animals that can’t rely only on instincts, that is, programs encoded in the DNA, then on what is based the respect for life?

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15 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

I bet that most of them feel pain.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

Respect aren’t necessarily need to be based on the ability of a creature to project emotion. You can still respect animals around you regardless of their emotion capacity, you can respect them just because they are living being, part of the ecosystem that keeps it running, or simply because of their function/benefits to human.

I respect grasshopper because it can be farmed as more economical and sustainable protein source. This protein source can be used to feed a lot of hungry children or be used as natural livestock feed, that alone is enough to gain my respect.

luigirovatti's avatar

Anyway, to put a similar topic on perspective here, how can it be possible to respect a inanimate object, like a bed, or a sofa, or a photo?

LornaLove's avatar

I could be wrong, and I should know this, but possibly the regions you mentioned are for stored emotions and memories. Meaning perhaps they do have emotion but it is not stored.

kritiper's avatar

By realizing that they are no less important than humans, and that they have an equal right to live on this planet unshackled by Man’s parameters.

luigirovatti's avatar

I rephrase the question: what’s so valuable about life? I thought emotions but now i’m not so sure.

marinelife's avatar

Just the fact that it exists is worthy of respect. Animals do have feelings. They feel pain so you would not want to cause them that.

luigirovatti's avatar

We’re going on a circle here… no offence.

LostInParadise's avatar

Let’s consider inanimate objects, as you suggested. Should we have respect for a great work of art? I hope that you would say yes, so feeling pain is not the proper criterion for what we should respect. Each species can be considered a work of art that is so far beyond anything that we are capable of. This at least provides an argument for not exterminating entire species. As for individual members of a species, that is more problematic.

Zaku's avatar

If you need a scientist to write an article associating a specific physical organ with a human experience before you will feel satisfied something exists, then we may have a problem explaining to your satsifaction.

I certainly respect all animals, as well as most plants and insects, and many inanimate objects, because I see and feel value in them.

I also think it’s reductive nonsense and/or misunderstanding to equate “feelings” with a hypothalamus or amygdala. And suggesting that we may as well do violence to anything without a hypothalamus or amygdala seems quite atrocious.

flutherother's avatar

It is obvious that fish are not the same as humans and that that while they don’t have legs they have fins and instead of an amygdala they have a region of brain called the pallium. Fish are fish and men are men and there is no reason for any disrespect.

Soubresaut's avatar

I agree with what others have said about other animals not needing specific emotions/regions of the brain for us to respect them, and I don’t have much more to offer there.

I just wanted to add—just because another species doesn’t have the same brain structures we do, it doesn’t mean they don’t have experiences we would recognize as emotional. It just might be harder to find a way to measure or understand their experience of the world.

You might find this interesting: Sugar gives bees a happy buzz, study finds from

Combine that with the article shared in this thread describing how bees can learn through observation, and can improve upon the strategies they acquire.

Taken together, those studies seem to suggest that bees are thinking and feeling creatures. They may well think and feel in ways that are foreign or alien to us, but it’s thinking and feeling all the same.

And I’m just using bees as an example because they’re invertebrates, and I happened to know two articles describing studies about them.

kritiper's avatar

People aren’t more important than the other animals; we just think we are.
“Ashes to ashes,
Dust to dust, -
Life is a fluke,
Death is a must.”

CalHoncho's avatar

All animals feel pain, but no animal has a soul. We have dominion over them and in that sense alone we should respect them, they provide us with food, comfort, clothing etc.

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