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Dog as Machine?

Excerpted from "What Do Dogs Know?":

Some scientists are convinced that dogs cannot really think or reason; all of the behaviors that your dog engages in are therefore supposed to be done without thought, planning or insight. These experts still believe the theories of the French philosopher Descartes, who described dogs as machines, filled with the biological equivalent of gears and pulleys. Like other machines they don't think, but they can be programmed to do certain things.

Some say that Descartes had a hidden agenda. For if dogs can think,and if they have consciousness -- then, according to church doctrine, they must also have souls. Anything with a soul is eligible for entry into Heaven, of course, and some members of the clergy were becoming concerned about possible overcrowding in Paradise. Machines, however; have no souls; therefore one need not allow an Akita-shaped automaton or a mechanized Maltese to pass through the Pearly Gates of Heaven. As a by-product, one assumes, there would be no necessity to institute leash laws for dogs exercising on the Elysian Fields.

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