|If a cat or dog comes up to you for attention it does it out of a biological stimulus that lots of mammals have - the desire for physical contact with other mammals.|
If I decide to eat chicken for dinner tonight I do so out of a biological stimulus that lots of mammals have - the desire to consume food for means of producing energy.
Making decisions implies free will. Free will implies consciousness. Just because you can explain the rationale behind a decision doesn't mean the decision is any less of a decision.
|When you've been away for a while, [the dog] doesn't sit up at night thinking about you and wondering what you're doing. It doesn't have any thoughts or feelings that are "uncaused". It only reacts to stimuli.|
These are awfully
big assumptions. None of which you could possibly have any proof of. And all of which I would strongly disagree with based on my previous interactions with animals.
The fact of the matter is we don't know what thoughts go through a dog's head. But we do know they have thoughts (they are known to dream -- as are cats).
Dogs in particular have been known to remember specific people over very long periods of time (several years) of being apart. Whether they have occasional thoughts/memories of that person during that time is impossible to determine.
|Also, animals don't hold beliefs and convictions about the world as humans do|
I never claimed they do. They're physically, mentally, and culturally different. But that doesn't mean they aren't self aware.
|Although here I feel like I'm getting into a moving-the-goalposts kind of argument, summed up best by this SMBC comic:|
That SMBC comic kind of summarizes my point.
You are saying that just because animals do not think the same way we do, they are not self aware and/or are incapable of making decisions. I am saying that's utter nonsense.
|A person can decide to change their personality purely by choice, not only by conditioning (changing one's behaviour in response to others' behaviour) and certainly not genetically|
If you make a decision to do something, you do so because you've thought about the outcome of that decision and find it desirable. You're able to predict the outcome based on your previous experiences in similar situations.
I choose to use a oven mitt when removing a pizza tray from the oven because I know the pizza tray will be hot and it will burn me otherwise. I know this because I have burned myself on hot things in the past.
Had I never been burned before... and if nobody told me that hot things could burn me... I wouldn't know.
The only way you can know anything
without prior experience is if its instinctive (read: genetic makeup).
Decisions are not random. There is no true randomness. If I make a decision to do something, and then do it... and then somehow time rewound and everything (including my thoughts/consciousness) was reverted back and I was confronted with the decision again.... I would make the exact same decision again. All the reasons I made the decision the first time are the same reasons I made it the second time.
It's completely deterministic.
|and I don't think one could ever have enough information to be able to predict that event and its outcome, which determinism would require|
Determinism doesn't require you understand
all the factors that link the cause->effect relationship. It just requires that there is
a cause->effect relationship.
I agree that how decisions are made is too complex a process to ever be fully understood and predicted. There are just way too many factors involved.
But that doesn't mean the cause->effect relationship isn't there. It's just incredibly complex.
|In my previous paragraph I argued that a human can decide to behave differently on a whim and a cat can't.|
Again, I disagree. You have no proof of that.
I have personally witnessed cats do some pretty random things that I couldn't explain.
|I think that a human could change its personality without any learning or brain restructuring evident. |
Nope. Changing your personality without a physical change requires conscious thought.
Conscious thought requires drawing from experience and anticipating future results.