Animal Studies Bibliography
Crist, Eileen. 1994. Review essay: Griffin, Kennedy, and Noske. Society and Animals 2(1): 77-88.
Three recent works, Donald Griffin's Animal Minds , J. S. Kennedy's The New Anthropomorphism , and Barbara Noske's Humans and Other Animals , reveal that there is still little consensus about animal minds and continuity between humans and animals. Noske criticizes our perceptions of animals as objects, which is based on an idea of discontinuity between animals and humans, with humans subjects...in a world of culture, agency, and freedom and animals objects in a world of necessity, passivity and compulsion (78). This distinction is reinforced by the boundaries between natural and social sciences. Social scientists fail to recognize that biological reductionism is being applied to animals just as it is sometimes applied to humans. Noske calls for an anthropology of animals, in which we understand animals' subjectivity through participation and empathetic understanding. There are 2 problems with this emphasis on empathy. First, it does not address the argument, basic to the rejection of animal consciousness, that empathy is fine but it is not science, and that subjectivity cannot be objectively, scientifically observed. Second, our empathy is often limited to certain species, with other species, like insects, left out of the picture. These species, however, also surely have subjectivities to be investigated. Griffin marshals considerable evidence for animal minds, going straight to the least likely sources, like honeybees, ants, and birds, and reviewing the evidence for their mindedness. The studies demonstrate that the animals are not simply acting out instincts or drives, but rather are acting purposefully and adaptively, both in special (experimental settings, emergencies or shortages of food) and everyday (monitoring predators, etc.) circumstances. This data supports the idea of continuity between humans and animals and is the continuation of arguments begun by Darwin. Critics of Griffin's perspective normally invoke the principle called Occam's razor, which demands that science provide the simplest explanations possible. In many cases, however, it is the behaviorist explanations that are too involved and the recognition of animals' subjectivity that it the most parsimonious answer. Kennedy attacks the idea of animal consciousness and the resurgence of anthropomorphism in the scientific literature (84). Kennedy is a neobehaviorist who explains animal behavior with theories of stimulus-response and genetic programming. He argues that anthropomorphism is a threat to scientific progress. Kennedy's definition of anthropomorphism, however, undermines his argument. He says it is something we can never fully eliminate because it is a tendency genetically programmed and culturally reinforced in us. Accepting his argument, the question then is, why would a tendency to anthropomorphism be genetically programmed in us if it did not serve some valuable purpose, and what place does Kennedy have in questioning natural selection? If it is part of our genetic makeup, anthropomorphism would presumably be part of the reason we have risen to the top, and part of what formed our abilities at logical reasoning. All of Kennedy's critiques are based on the Cartesian mind-body dualism that understands the mind as inner private property that others cannot perceive or understand. However, it is clear that we do perceive the minds of other humans and animals, because we see them through the others' behavior. There is no way to understand behavior, in fact, without attaching it to understandings about emotions and the like. Further, Kennedy's use of the terms conscious and unconscious is neither technical nor vernacular, making his comparisons fail to demonstrate his points. Kennedy fails to realize that action itself...embodies presence, awareness and the lived forms of feeling, intending, and knowing, precisely because these forms do not shadow the body's expressions and movements, but constitute them (88).