Monday, April 27, 2015

Psychology and Animals

Today in lecture, Professor Freccero started to discuss how Descartes distinct of Mind and Body in terms of animals paved a road for animal testing. She discussed how by Descartes claiming that animals have similar bodies but don't have thought, and therefore don't have a soul, it could be acceptable to dissect and experiment on animal bodies to learn more about humans. But this extends beyond the physical dissection of animal bodies to learn about organs. It also can be said that Descartes justified us manipulating animals to learn more about human behavior too. A specific example is the famous Pavlov's dog. Here's a picture to explain the overall concept:

Although this particular experiment was harmless to the dog in an ethical sense, it still illustrates manipulating this animal to do what we want it to for our own benefit (Pavlov's dog shows  Classical Conditioning, which is a technique recommended for parenting children). And this isn't the only experiment that manipulated animals. Harlow's Monkey experiments to test dependency were also conducted in the 1950s and these experiments illustrated a clear unethical manipulation of an animal for human benefit. (here's a link if you're curious about the study). Descartes gave justification for experiments that would have never been performed on humans at the cost of animals, both physically and psychologically.

Here's a little rumor for you:

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