Pleasure - Pleasure As A Uniquely Human Experience

Pleasure As A Uniquely Human Experience

There has been debate as to whether pleasure is experienced by other animals rather than being an exclusive property of humankind. On the one hand, Jeremy Bentham (usually regarded as the founder of Utilitarianism) and Beth Dixon both argue that they do—the latter, however, in a carefully worded manner. People who believe in human exceptionalism might argue that it is a form of anthropomorphism to ascribe any human experience to animals, including pleasure. Others view animal behaviour simply as responses to stimuli; this is the way behaviourists look at the evidence, Pavlov's dogs (or rather his explanation of their behaviour) being the best-known example. However, it may be argued that we simply cannot know whether animals experience pleasure, and most scientists, indeed, prefer to remain neutral while utilizing anthropomorphisms as and when they need them. It appears, though, that those who recognise emotions in animals are in the ascent: many ethologists, for example Marc Bekoff, are prepared to draw the conclusion that animals do experience emotions, though these are not necessarily the same as human emotions.

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