Animal Rationality Essay Research Paper I bark

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Animal Rationality Essay, Research Paper I bark, therefore I am: The question of rational animals Many individuals look at their dog or cat and wonder what the furry little creatures are thinking or question the reasoning behind a particular action. Here is encountered a very large debate in the philosophical and psychological world. Are certain animals, other than humans, rational creatures? Of course, there are people who sit on both sides of the fence on the rationality issue. Donald Davidson, author of “Rational Animals”, proposes that no other creature on the face of the earth has the ability to rationalize, besides the human. Mr. Davidson derives a particular formula for proving, in his mind, that his hypotheses are correct. I, however, differ with Davidson s views

and even question his logic at points. Throughout the course of my essay, I will describe Davidson s progression of thought as well as confirm his theory unworkable. By proving against Davidson s theory, I hope to undoubtedly show that there are, in fact, certain rational higher-level animals. Donald Davidson attempts to beat down any arguments for animal rationality in his essay, “Rational Animals”. Davidson does do a relatively good job of convincing the reader of his notions. By proposing a progression of four interlocked steps, which condenses to only two later in the essay, Davidson hopes to dissolve any doubt that animals do not have rational minds. First, Davidson proposes that animals do not have a network of beliefs. Both Davidson and I agree on our definition of

what a belief is. A belief is the knowledge of a certain idea, object, or concept. In regard to describing the term “network of beliefs”, a quotation from Davidson s essay works the best: “One belief demands many beliefs, and beliefs demand other basic attitudes such as intentions, desires, . . . ” (Davidson, 473). Therefore a network of beliefs is one or many deeper beliefs about a particular belief. This step lays the foundation, the ground work, for Davidson s following three points. Beliefs are a part of a rational network is the crux of Davidson s second step. By making this statement, Davidson attempts to get across the idea that his theory of a “network of beliefs” is necessary to rationality. For the purposes of this essay along with Davidson s, I will propose

that rationality means the ability to have a network of beliefs, basic attitudes, and a rudimentary language. Once again, the word “network” that is linked with “rational” necessitates the deep belief network described in step one. Thirdly, Davidson claims that to have any belief requires a concept of beliefs. A concept of beliefs is the understanding of what, exactly, one actually believes. However, there is no particular list of items one must believe in order to have a concept of that belief. According to Davidson, “There is no fixed list of things someone with the concept of a tree must believe, but without many general beliefs there would be no reason to identify a belief as a belief about a tree” (Davidson, 475). Finally, to have a concept of beliefs requires a

language. Now this is the point where Davidson and I differ greatly on our definition of what is language. To Davidson, language requires the use of a developed verbal language, capable of conveying high-level thinking. However, my denotation requires a form of communication, be it verbal or bodily, that has the ability to convey more than just basic needs and desires such as hunger, thirst, danger, and sexual interest. Despite this very deep process that Davidson puts forth in the beginning of his essay, he goes on to minimize it to only two later in the essay. Davidson completely removes the first two steps in his plan and makes the premises that: “First, it is necessary to have the concept of belief. And second, in order to have the concept of belief one must have