Apes and Dolphins Seminar Series

We have completed all 3 seminars in our Apes and Dolphins Seminar Series. Thank you to all of those who attended the seminars. Check out Esteban’s Institute for Animals in Philosophy and Science for his upcoming seminars on topics related to animal ethics and science. Check out Justin’s website/blog for news about upcoming presentations on subjects concerning dolphin science/ethics.

The Moral Status of Apes and Dolphins: are apes and dolphins morally special? *HAS ALREADY TAKEN PLACE

February 8th, 2014
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
10:00 – 17:00

EthicsSeminarJoin ape behavior expert Esteban Rivas from the Institute for Animals in Philosophy and Science, and dolphin cognition researcher Justin Gregg from the Dolphin Communication Project for a day-long seminar dedicated to the ethics regarding great apes and dolphins and their moral status. Presentations will be given about the moral theories, philosophical arguments, and ethical positions (both past and present) regarding apes and dolphins and how humans should treat them, as well as the various campaigns, lawsuits, and political discussions that are currently taking place regarding apes and dolphins from the various rights, welfare, and conservation approaches. This includes an overview of high-profile campaigns like the Great Ape Project, the Helsinki Declaration, and the Free Morgan campaign. In a general discussion, seminar participants will debate the various moral issues raised during the presentations, and address questions such as: Do great apes and dolphins have a special moral status, different from other animals? Does the intelligence of apes and dolphins warrant their recognition as legal or moral persons, or otherwise influence how they should be treated? What are the moral arguments for and against keeping apes and dolphins in captivity, or using them for military, entertainment, therapeutic, or medical purposes? What obligation do we have to protect apes and dolphins – including their natural environments – based on the “kinds” of beings they are as described in the various ethical philosophies?

Download a PDF flyer  of the seminar (for printing) at this link.

Preliminary program:
Moral thinking about apes, dolphins, and other non-human animals: history and present (by Esteban Rivas)

Campaigns, lawsuits, and political discussion concerning how great apes should be treated (by Esteban Rivas)
Campaigns, lawsuits, and political discussion concerning how dolphins should be treated (by Justin Gregg)
General discussion involving all participants.
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Follow along with updates and info for the Apes and Dolphins Seminar Series on our Facebook page
http://www.facebook.com/ApesAndDolphinsSeminarSeries

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The Apes and Dolphins Seminar Series is a Minding Animals Partner Event
More info about Minding Animals at www.mindinganimals.com

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Seminar 2 *HAS ALREADY TAKEN PLACE

Our cognitive cousins: the intelligence of apes and dolphins

October 26th
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
10:00 – 17:00

Join ape behavior expert Esteban Rivas from the Institute for Animals in Philosophy and Science, and dolphin cognition researcher Justin Gregg from the Dolphin Communication Project for a day-long seminar highlighting the amazing scientific discoveries involving the intelligence of apes and dolphins.  This seminar will features lectures covering the study of ape and dolphin cognition, and what scientists have learned about the way these animals use complex thinking to solve problems both in the lab and in the wild. Despite being distantly related on an evolutionary scale, apes and dolphins have evolved similarly complex social systems, abilities to use using artificial communication systems, and capacities for self-awareness. This seminar will discuss the current state of the science on ape and dolphin cognition, and compare the nature of their intelligence to that of humans and other animals. Topics will include social cognition, self-awareness, consciousness, problem solving, tool use, social learning and culture, categorization, emotional intelligence, empathy, altruism, theory of mind, comprehension of human communicative signals, etc. There will of course be plenty of time for healthy discussions (and debates) throughout the day. This seminar is the second seminar in the Apes and Dolphins Seminar series, a three part seminar series exploring the scientific and ethical issues surrounding the study of language and intelligence in apes and dolphin. The final seminar, focusing on ethics, will take place later in the year.

Registration costs 50 Euro (30 Euro for students with student ID), and includes lunch, coffee/tea, as well as a goodie-bag . The seminar will take place at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in room HG 2A06. This is located in the Hoofdgebouw (HG), on the second floor of section A, room #6. Information (in English) on getting to the Vrije Universiteit can be found at this link. A PDF map of the campus can be found at this link – note that the Hoofdgebouw on this map is called “main building” in English, and is located at De Boelelaan 1105.

To register for the seminar or for more information email Esteban directly at estebanyes@gmail.com

NOTE: if you contacted us earlier via the contact form that was on this page, it’s possible we did not receive your message. If you’ve not had a reply, please be sure to email us again at estebanyes@gmail.com

It is possible to register for the seminar right up through October 25th – in order to accommodate any last-minute interest!

Tentative program
Introduction to intelligence in animals (by Justin Gregg).
General intelligence and cognition in great apes (by Esteban Rivas) General intelligence and cognition in dolphins (by Justin Gregg).
(topics will include: brains and intelligence, memory, concepts, categories, relations between objects, analogical reasoning, spatial knowledge, quantitative reasoning (counting), causal reasoning, symbol use, problem solving, play, planning, mental time travel, and tool use.
Experimental testing for mirror self-recognition in the bottlenose dolphin. A description of a study by biologist Hilco Jansma of Groningen University.
Social cognition in great apes (Esteban Rivas) & Social Cognition in Dolphins (by Justin Gregg)
(topics will include self recognition, Theory of Mind: understanding of another’s perception, goals, intentions, knowledge and beliefs, gaze following behaviour, imitation, comprehension of human communicative signals, agency,  deception, emotions, altruism, social learning, teaching, culture, social complexity, cooperation,  and empathy.
General discussion.
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Follow along with updates and info for the Apes and Dolphins Seminar Series on our Facebook page
http://www.facebook.com/ApesAndDolphinsSeminarSeries

Download a PDF flyer (for printing) at this link.

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The Apes and Dolphins Seminar Series is a Minding Animals Partner Event
More info about Minding Animals at www.mindinganimals.com

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Check back soon for more information about Part 3 of this series: Ape and Dolphin Ethics

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About Estban:

Esteban received his PhD from the Philosophy Department of Nijmegen University having studies the linguist abilities of some of the world’s most famous signing apes, including  the chimpanzees Moja, Tatu, Dar, and Loulis  at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI) of Central Washington University; the orangutan Chantek at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga; and the gorilla KoKo at  the Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, California. He lectures widely on the topics of language, morality, and intelligence in animals, with a special emphasis in animal ethics, rights, and welfare. You can learn more about Esteban by visiting his blog or by visiting the website for the Institute for Animals in Philosophy and Science.

About Justin:
Justin received his PhD from the School of Psychology at Trinity College Dublin in Dublin Ireland in 2008.He has been a research associate with the Dolphin Communication Project since 2004, assisting with data collection on Bimini for 2004 and leading the field research on Mikura Island for the 2005, 2006, and 2007 field seasons. He is currently a co-editor at the academic journal Aquatic Mammals. Justin will be publishing a book about dolphin intelligence with Oxford University Press – slated for publication in the fall of 2013.You can learn more about Justin by visiting his blog or the website for the Dolphin Communication Project.

 

Seminar 1 *HAS ALREADY TAKEN PLACE

Why can’t apes and dolphins talk? Communication and language research with apes and dolphins

April 13th
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
10:00 – 17:00

Join ape language expert Esteban Rivas from the Institute for Animals in Philosophy and Science, and dolphin communication researcher Justin Gregg from the Dolphin Communication Project for a day-long seminar addressing the question of why it’s so difficult to establish two-way communication with apes and dolphins. Download PDF flyer here.

This seminar will features lectures covering the study of apes’ and dolphins’ natural communication systems and the nature of the information they share with each other, as well as the many experiments that have been conducted to teach apes and dolphins to use artificial symbol systems. Both dolphins and the great apes were at the center of dozens of animal language research projects throughout the late 20th century, with the ultimate goal of establishing meaningful interspecies dialogue. A number of breakthroughs did occur, but the ultimate conclusion most scientists reached was that even the most intelligent non-human animal species do not appear to possess the kind of cognitive skills necessary to fully comprehend or use human language. This seminar will unravel the mystery of why and where things went wrong, and what the future of animal communication (and animal language) research holds in store. The lectures will feature stunning videos and images of dolphins and apes taken from Esteban and Justin’s (and the Dolphin Communication Project’s) research archive. There will of course be plenty of time for healthy discussions (and debates) throughout the day.

Registration costs 50 Euro (30 Euro for students with student ID), and includes lunch, coffee/tea, as well as a goodie-bag containing a coupon for 50% off of an adopt-a-wild-dolphin kit (from the Dolphin Communication Project), a DVD of the film Dolphins: The Lighter Side, a dolphin information booklet, and a dolphin calendar and notecards. The seminar will take place at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in room HG 2A06. This is located in the Hoofdgebouw (HG), on the second floor of section A, room #6. Information (in English) on getting to the Vrije Universiteit can be found at this link. A PDF map of the campus can be found at this link – note that the Hoofdgebouw on this map is called “main building” in English, and is located at De Boelelaan 1105.

 Join Esteban Rivas and Justin Gregg for this three part seminar series exploring the scientific and ethical issues surrounding the study of language and intelligence in apes and dolphins
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