Animals. focuses on the downtrodden creatures native to Earth's least-habitable environment: New York City. Whether it's lovelorn rats, gender-questioning pigeons or aging bedbugs in the midst of a midlife crisis, the awkward small talk, moral ambiguity and existential woes of non-human urbanites prove startlingly similar to our own.
Runtime: 30 minutes
Animals. - Animal consciousness - Netflix
Animal consciousness, or animal awareness, is the quality or state of self-awareness within an animal, or of being aware of an external object or something within itself. In humans, consciousness has been defined as: sentience, awareness, subjectivity, qualia, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind. Despite the difficulty in definition, many philosophers believe there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is. The topic of animal consciousness is beset with a number of difficulties. It poses the problem of other minds in an especially severe form because animals, lacking the ability to use human language, cannot tell us about their experiences. Also, it is difficult to reason objectively about the question, because a denial that an animal is conscious is often taken to imply that it does not feel, its life has no value, and that harming it is not morally wrong. The 17th-century French philosopher René Descartes, for example, has sometimes been blamed for mistreatment of animals because he argued that only humans are conscious. Philosophers who consider subjective experience the essence of consciousness also generally believe, as a correlate, that the existence and nature of animal consciousness can never rigorously be known. The American philosopher Thomas Nagel spelled out this point of view in an influential essay titled What Is it Like to Be a Bat?. He said that an organism is conscious “if and only if there is something that it is like to be that organism—something it is like for the organism”; and he argued that no matter how much we know about an animal's brain and behavior, we can never really put ourselves into the mind of the animal and experience its world in the way it does itself. Other thinkers, such as the cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter, dismiss this argument as incoherent. Several psychologists and ethologists have argued for the existence of animal consciousness by describing a range of behaviors that appear to show animals holding beliefs about things they cannot directly perceive—Donald Griffin's 2001 book Animal Minds reviews a substantial portion of the evidence. Animal consciousness has been actively researched for over one hundred years. In 1927 the American functional psychologist Harvey Carr argued that any valid measure or understanding of awareness in animals depends on “an accurate and complete knowledge of its essential conditions in man”. A more recent review concluded in 1985 that “the best approach is to use experiment (especially psychophysics) and observation to trace the dawning and ontogeny of self-consciousness, perception, communication, intention, beliefs, and reflection in normal human fetuses, infants, and children”. In 2012, a group of neuroscientists signed the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, which “unequivocally” asserted that “humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neural substrates.”
Animals. - Mirror test - Netflix
The sense in which animals (or human infants) can be said to have consciousness or a self-concept has been hotly debated; it is often referred to as the debate over animal minds. The best known research technique in this area is the mirror test devised by Gordon G. Gallup, in which the skin of an animal (or human infant) is marked, while it is asleep or sedated, with a mark that cannot be seen directly but is visible in a mirror. The animal is then allowed to see its reflection in a mirror; if the animal spontaneously directs grooming behaviour towards the mark, that is taken as an indication that it is aware of itself. Over the past 30 years, many studies have found evidence that animals recognise themselves in mirrors. Self-awareness by this criterion has been reported for: Apes common chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans and gorillas. Other land mammals elephants. Cetaceans Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). Killer whales: Killer whales (Orcinus orca) and false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) may be able to recognize themselves in mirrors. Birds magpies. Until recently it was thought that self-recognition was absent from animals without a neocortex, and was restricted to mammals with large brains and well developed social cognition. However, in 2008 a study of self-recognition in corvids reported significant results for magpies. Mammals and birds inherited the same brain components from their last common ancestor nearly 300 million years ago, and have since independently evolved and formed significantly different brain types. The results of the mirror and mark tests showed that neocortex-less magpies are capable of understanding that a mirror image belongs to their own body. The findings show that magpies respond in the mirror and mark test in a manner similar to apes, dolphins and elephants. This is a remarkable capability that, although not fully concrete in its determination of self-recognition, is at least a prerequisite of self-recognition. This is not only of interest regarding the convergent evolution of social intelligence; it is also valuable for an understanding of the general principles that govern cognitive evolution and their underlying neural mechanisms. The magpies were chosen to study based on their empathy/lifestyle, a possible precursor for their ability of self-awareness. However even in the chimpanzee, the species most studied and with the most convincing findings, clear-cut evidence of self-recognition is not obtained in all individuals tested. Occurrence is about 75% in young adults and considerably less in young and old individuals. For monkeys, non-primate mammals, and in a number of bird species, exploration of the mirror and social displays were observed. However, hints at mirror-induced self-directed behavior have been obtained. The mirror test has attracted controversy among some researchers because it is entirely focused on vision, the primary sense in humans, while other species rely more heavily on other senses such as the olfactory sense in dogs. A study in 2015 showed that the “sniff test of self-recognition (STSR)” provides evidence of self-awareness in dogs.
Animals. - References - Netflix