Non-human animals are mindless automatons who cannot feel pain nor suffer.
Sheesh, all this talk about animals. I don't get it everyone who has taken a psychology class knows that animals are mindless automatons.
First I will define automaton as defined by Merriam Webster. An automaton is "a machine that can move by itself" or "a person who acts in a mechanical or machinelike way." Notice that the dictionary made no reference to animals as automatons. I believe your argument to be that, when dealing with an animal, you get a very predictable sequence when dealing with the inputs to the mind of the animal and the outputs from that mind based upon the inputs. Basically, it would seem your argument is that animals are not capable of logic, which would be a fallacious assumption. Some animals are not capable of logic, for example a sponge, whereas others are capable of quite advanced logic and problem solving. The rather trite example of a mouse navigating a maze to find the hidden cheese is an example of this. The mouse can smell the cheese, so he knows that it is there, and he is able to navigate until he finds it by process of elimination. By taking each route until he has taken all that he can find, the mouse will eventually find the cheese by remembering where it is not.
To address the topic of your argument that animals cannot feel pain. Animals can indeed feel pain. If you strike an animal it will cause it to behave in a certain way. If your blow was not particularly damaging, the animal may decide not to do whatever it was doing so as not to anger you again. The animal might also decide that you present a threat to it and do considerable bodily harm to you as a response to the pain that you caused it. In terms of suffering, there are animals which are capable of emotional suffering on a similar level to humans. It is well documented that both cats and dogs will search for missing family members, whether those be people or other animals which used to reside in that household. Often times cats and dogs will display symptoms of depression when a family member dies. These include refusing to eat, no longer participating in activities in which they used to participate, and even increased aggression.
"Dogs may forget an event less than two minutes after it happened, according to a new study." James Owen, for National Geographic
Animals are stupid. They only have a memory of less than two minutes. As for pain, that's just stimulus response. Think of a plant moving towards the sun, or a microscopic amboa engulfing its prey.
"As we know from looking at plants on a windowsill, they grow toward the sunlight to be able to generate energy by photosynthesis. Now scientists have provided definitive insights into the driving force behind this movement -- the plant hormone auxin. "Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Amoebas locomote by ways of cytoplasmic movement. (cytoplasm is the cell content around the nucleus of the cell) The amoeba forms pseudopods (false feet) with which they 'flow' over a surface. The cytoplasma not only flows it also changes from a fluid into a solid state.
These pseudopods are also used to capture prey, They simply engulf the food. They can detect the kind of prey and use different 'engulfing tactics'." WWim Van Egmond
As you can see animals are just like amoebas and plants. Sure they can response to stimulus.
To refute your other point about animals simply moving towards prey, I would pose that humans are not so different. The primary concern of every life form is survival. Let us suppose that we have a person who is a very strict vegan and adamantly opposed to ever consuming animals or products made from animals. The very advanced reasoning which humans are capable of has allowed this person to reason, on a level of which animals are incapable, that consumption of animals presents some sort of ethical dilemma. This said, I can all but assure you that in the event this vegan was starving to death and an animal was all they could find to kill and eat, they would kill that animal and consume it for reasons of survival. This is because, like animals, humans have basic needs that must be met. As I have also already pointed out, there is significant evidence that animals are capable of becoming depressed. Were your assertion correct that animals are mindless and simply move towards food without any ability to think beyond that, why would the ever become depressed about anything?
You are correct to believe that animals respond to stimulus just as plants and protists, but animals are capable of reasoning on a much higher level than either plants or protists. This is due to evolution and the fact that animals are much more evolved than are protists, though there may be evidence that plants have undergone as much evolution as animals. Believe it or not, even humans have very predictable responses to certain stimuli. If I hit you, it is very predictable that you will do one of two things. You will either run, flight, or hit me back, fight. While there are other possible outcomes to my hitting you, there is a good chance you will do one of those two things thereby displaying how simply our brains can react under certain circumstances.
I notice that you have cited references, yet none of your references actually posit the point you are trying to make. If there is proof that researchers have determined that all animals are mindless input/output machines, as you pose, I would invite you to please reference that information. I doubt you can find it, though, at least not from a scholarly source.
I just wanted to test your mettle. The idea of animals being mindless automatons is completley obsolete. Sadly, this idea did exist at one point and that's how I heard of this concept. I heard the idea in my psychology class. Apparenlty psychologists used to think animals were mindless automatons. Advice, use more outside sources. With the internet at your disposal you could have easily scienfically proven me wrong in the first round of the debate. Thanks for the debate. I eagerly await your response.