sophiedoph (sophiedoph) wrote in thequestionclub,

Practical Autonomy/Higher Level Thinking, Animals, and Liberty Rights

From this article:
Thus we are trying to get Alex to sound out refrigerator letters, the same way one would train children on phonics. We were doing demos at the Media Lab for our corporate sponsors; we had a very small amount of time scheduled and the visitors wanted to see Alex work. So we put a number of differently colored letters on the tray that we use, put the tray in front of Alex, and asked, "Alex, what sound is blue?" He answers, "Ssss." It was an "s", so we say "Good birdie" and he replies, "Want a nut."

Well, I don't want him sitting there using our limited amount of time to eat a nut, so I tell him to wait, and I ask, "What sound is green?" Alex answers, "Ssshh." He's right, it's "sh," and we go through the routine again: "Good parrot." "Want a nut." "Alex, wait. What sound is orange?" "ch." "Good bird!" "Want a nut." We're going on and on and Alex is clearly getting more and more frustrated. He finally gets very slitty-eyed and he looks at me and states, "Want a nut. Nnn, uh, tuh."

Alex's and Dr. Pepperberg's Site

1. Do you believe there are some animals (dolphins, higher-intelligence primates, African Greys) who possess higher level thinking / practical autonomy? Why or why not?

2. If science established that there are animals with higher-level thinking / practical autonomy, do you think they are entitled to liberty rights? (I think Alex would say "Yes! Now gimme a nut!") What kinds of liberty rights?
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