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We know animals can recognize proximate causes. For example, if animal A hits animal B and injures it then usually animal B is able to associate animal A with his injury. From our everyday experience with pets and other animals we know that. What about distal causes? Proximate causes are not always the most appropriate causes, sometimes distal causes are more appropriate to identify the responsible agents. Let's modify the previous hypothetical example by bringing another animal, animal C: Animal C pushes animal B so that animal A hits animal B and injures it. If animal B is capable of recognizing distal causes, it'll associate animal C with his injury (not animal B which is the proximate cause of the injury).

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't know about your example, but would you consider a bird using a piece of bread to lure fish a distal cause? So if the fish looks for more bread it knows its to eat fish. $\endgroup$ – Cell Mar 8 '19 at 12:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Cell but it doesn't show that the bird is consciously doing that. the behavior you mentioned can be hard-wired in the bird brain so the bird can carry out that behavior without having the general cognitive capability of recognizing distal causes. $\endgroup$ – Ahmed Abdullah Mar 8 '19 at 12:40
  • $\begingroup$ How can using bread (a human invention) as lure be hard-wired? Or putting off eating the bread for immediate nourishment for bigger gains? $\endgroup$ – Cell Mar 8 '19 at 13:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Cell Actual baiting behavior can be specific hard-wired adaptation and the fish may develop the flexibility to use x,y,z as baits . I am not entirely dismissing it as a possible answer to my question. If the fish does it out of its general intelligence then of course it qualifies as "recognition of distal causes". Is there any evidence that it's not hardwired behavior? $\endgroup$ – Ahmed Abdullah Mar 8 '19 at 13:13
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    $\begingroup$ What about when my dog brings me his leash to push me to take him out? Dogs do recognize distal causes. $\endgroup$ – alec_djinn Mar 8 '19 at 14:56

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