Hello. This is part 2 of my previous post (Animals and morality) because I wanted to ask some other things as well but didn’t. I will address an answer given to me by @Jay313 and ask more questions:
The answerer said that he/she agrees that animals have some small knowledge of morality but also says that when I say that some animals can be a little morally responsible for a bad deed I’m anthropomorphizing the animals’ knowledge into morally responsible actions and human guilt.
I reply: Since I said previously that a chimp can have the moral culpability of a 5 year old when doing a bad deed, that means the chimpanzee is doing something wrong. The child knows that hurting another child is wrong. So it seems for the chimpanzee. Therefore he is a little morally responsible. I don’t get why you don’t believe this. It just doesn’t have anything to do with “being able to predict an action’s far future effects”. It only has to do with doing something despite knowing better (therefore doing something bad).
It also seems like the answerer agrees with me that they don’t have 0 moral knowledge but he also says that this knowledge that they have amounts only to understanding “normal” and expected behavior in social situations. He says that a pet who can know better than to do something just fears punishment. He also says that these animals can’t reach the level of abstraction necessary for conceiving of good and bad deeds.
I reply: As I said above, they did something despite knowing better, and that’s enough by me. Can you explain to me where I’m wrong?
Further, the answerer also includes other extra information by another answerer such as proto-humans being able to understand human rights only by intuition and not conceptually as an archer can understand how arrows arc without being able to understand Newtonian physics that explain how they arc. It’s also said that ancient humans may have been ok moral practicioners but not ok moral theorists. To this extra information an answer is given that like children, prehistoric people could sense what was “right” and “wrong,” but they couldn’t verbalize or analyze their feelings or “codify” morality using abstract categories.
I reply: Can you please explain to me more about this extra information? I do not know much about it and I need to understand it better.
Further, Jay313 says that animal actions (or at least some of them) are more self-centered than I think and that chimp mourning happens for the personal loss of a companion while chimp consoling happens because chimps have first-order theory of mind (they can project their experience of pain onto another mind) which can make them feel empathy.
I reply: Since they can feel empathy this strengthens my point above that they did something bad. When they hurt a chimp they can understand that that chimp is going to feel pain. Yet they do it (I don’t say they do it for no reason). So how does that not mean that they can be morally responsible, even though they aren’t as aware of morality as humans?
The answerer then says that there’s a difference between moral responsibility and understanding of rules, that moral responsibility–shame/guilt–requires the ability to anticipate the consequences of one’s actions, that animals and human children don’t have brains wired to look very far into the future and that looking far into the future requires the human ability of reaching full knowledge of morality through training and normal growth.
I reply: Of course you mean they can’t anticipate the deeper and more long term consequences, because they seem to be able to understand short term consequences such as access to food or mates. I’m sorry if I annoy you but as I said above, they just did an action while knowing it’s bad. How does that not make them a little responsible? Thank you for your previous answers and in advance too.