Originally Posted by Mad About Drums
Some animals are much more "intelligent" than they're credited for, we could not believe it, but we had the proof in front of us.
As people understand animals better, the trend in almost all modern research suggests that animal intelligence is highly underestimated. However, Typo is right, ultimately it is a philosophical debate and no argument can be conclusive, either way.
It is true that humans are way ahead on the evolutionary scale compared to all other living forms, but it is important to note that all the definitions and parameters of evolution are also made by humans, as Polly alluded.
It is already established that animals feel pain, fear, and have the capacity to love, but issues like emotional intelligence, a sense of morality, a sense of right and wrong is the crux of the debate and where it rests really.
Do animals have a sense of justice? Some animal researchers will even give you positive scientific evidence of that.
How whales hunt collaboratively, how elephants societies grieve or how crows scavenge, if studied in some depth will blow peoples minds.
All of this seems well past the 'conscious thought'
level to me.