The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

(other)Animals aren't smart.

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Started: 4/5/2018 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 394 times Debate No: 112370
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The fact of the matter is, all of what people perceive as intelligence is instinct and survival. "My dog knows how to walk back how to walk back home! It's so smart!" No, the reason it does that, the reason it acts "cute" or "smart" is because it wants to eat. A life where simple head turns, or wagging of tails gets you a meal is one the brain prefers over hunting for it, and possibly starving. Generations of domestication can lead to more behaviors like this. "Wolves stay in a pack, that means they are smart!" Again, the reason "lone wolves" are rare, is just so simple. A matter of survival. Everything they do as a "family" is simply not intelligence, but more of improving the odds of their species. Who would win in the chaotic, animal world? A singular entity, or a group? Who would win in general? Single entity? or group? "Dolphins can make sound and bounce balls!" Why do they learn to do this? Hmmm, it couldn't possibly be that we are FEEDING THEM TO DO IT!?!?! (which is very entertaining to watch, by the way. It shows how superior our homo sapiens is, and how lucky we are that evolution nods in our favor.) Intelligence falls into three categories: technology, emotion, and philosophy, not survivability. Some other species have technology (example. Spiders weaving a web is NOT technology, but instinct. their techniques changing over time, IS), few have provable emotion, rather than implied, and NONE other than homo-sapiens (And our early ancestors, the hominids, which I will consider "Human" as they were the first to have true intellect) have Philosophy. The fact that non-human animals, and most of them, dont have any of the three categories, PROVES that they do not posess (Intellect) but rather (Survival Behaviors/Instincts) that have evolved and changed over the years, depending on their environment, and conditions.


I could come up with a ton of ways that animals show intelligence, many sources and studies and win this debate by proving that among non-human animals, the most intelligent truly are 'smart'. The reason I'm not going to do so is that I don't want to put in all that effort just for my opponent to say 'yeah but that's just so they can get food' or 'yeah but that's just for reproductive purposes'.

A fundamental issue my opponent has is not that he is lying, he is stating the truth, rather it is that he assumes humans and the use of 'smart' even with alien species who can be considered superior to us in intelligence is ever something beyond self-preservation or the urge to reproduce. My case, simply put, is that the issue Pro raises with regards to smartness in animals beyind ultimately a means to an end either for superior self-preservation or chances to reproduce (and prevent others reproducing as efficiently) is not at all a case against them being smart.

It is absolutely true that animals (and humans, even though this debate isn't about them) are only smart in order to preserve themselves and to stand greater chance of reproducing healthy offspring than their rivals but this does not in any way negate how smart they are or the validity of said smartness as an attribute of theirs.

The only additional motive humans have to be smart is either greed or wrath. Humans, unlike most animals, can be motivated by long term urges of vengeance and hence rage (wrath) as well as long term planning for greater gain (greed). I could go into how Chimps can mentally process greed and revenge and are only not greedy as they value fairness more than humans do:

The reason I won't do that (as well as go into dolphins and even other mammals processing the same thing mentally) is that I feel my opponent would feel I'd been unfair and gone to an extreme end of non-human animals that are very close to human in order to win the debate.

Instead, what I'm going to do is explain a simple idea: Just because you're smart for more basic reason, doesn't negate the smartness itself.

So, yes, dogs that are mentally capable of performing complex multi-step tricks are ultimately motivated by the love their owner(s) give(s) them and thus by the treats, affection and food they receive as a reward which can be seen as a shallow motive. The issue here is that Pro seems to think that shallow motives in being smart means you are not really smart in the first place and this is a logical fallacy that assumes you need to be an emotionally deep kind of smart in order to be correctly considered as such.

Most predators, unless extremely physically dominant over their prey, catch their prey by ultimately out-thinking it and planning further than the prey was mentally capable of doing. In response to this, I anticipate Pro saying 'yeah but that's just because the prey is even more dumb' or even going into how 'yeah but that's just smart to get food' and I shall counter that in advance by stating that to plan out an entire hunt that includes in it the calculated risks of the prey out-thinking and escaping the plan is very smart regardless of the shallow motive of the display of smarts being food for the next few days.

In summary, the shallow motives of smarts do not negate the smartness being valid. Humans, while not what this debate is about, only surpass most animals in that they can be smart for reasons of vengeful justice and long-term greed. Animals tend to lack those two additional motives and tend to be ultimatley motivated by self-preservation and hte urge to reproduce. They are still smart, it's just their motives are not always noble or involving very abstract planning.
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