Rationality in Nonhuman Animals is A No Brainer

Rationality in Nonhuman Animals is A No Brainer

Contributed by Courtney McVean

Cameron Buckner, assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Houston, argues in an article published in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, that a wide range of animal species exhibit so-called “executive control” when it comes to making decisions, consciously considering their goals and ways to satisfy those goals before acting. The goal of his paper was to compile empirical research, “to see that we’ve accumulated enough evidence to say that animals really are rational in a distinctive way.” Martha Nussbaum’s sixth capability in the Human Development Approach is practical reason, defined as: “Being able to form a conception of the good and to engage in critical reflection about the planning of one’s life.” Surely, this capability is self-evident in nonhuman animals if we can understand that action is not based on instinct, but rather careful consideration.