The Reason Of Animals Are Ruled By Custom Or Instinct Essay

1302 Words Nov 23rd, 2015 6 Pages
For Hume, the idea of “reason” refers to inductive reasoning, or the ability to make associations between different things, and to recognize cause and effect. He argues that animals learn things two ways: from observation, and from instinct (Hume, pg. 71,72). Both of his ideas are persuasive, especially when looking at the behavior of chimpanzees and their use of tools. However, his argument that animals learn based on experience or observation is slightly more persuasive than his argument that animals are ruled by custom or instinct.

One argument of Hume’s is that animals learn things based on experiences of cause and effect. He expands on this by giving an example of a horse not attempting to jump higher than it knows it can from past experience (Hume, pg. 68). This account of the reason of animals is persuasive because it can be seen as true in so many cases. Using the example of show animals – like the various aquatic mammals that perform in the Sea World shows – animals are able to learn tricks that do not seem to come naturally to them (like a dolphin laying on a platform with its head and tail in the air) due to positive reinforcement of desired behaviors, as well as other training techniques (Animal Behavior and Learning). Another example of animals learning things based on past experiences comes from my own experiences with my dogs. When my sister attempted to teach my dog to lift his front paw, she would use treats to achieve the desired behavior. My dog came to…

Related Documents