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Keeping Hold Of Nurse, Andrew Packard 2019 Stanford University

Keeping Hold Of Nurse, Andrew Packard

Animal Sentience

Mather draws from a lifetime devoted to studying individual octopuses in the wild and in aquaria to combine a natural history account of their actions with an argument from design adopted from second-, often third-hand sources. The 'distributed' [decentralised] nervous system said to contrast with that of vertebrates – a premise largely accepted by Mather’s commentators so far – does not reflect the original literature on motor control, nor the facts of comparative anatomy, functional morphology and morphogenesis. Ontogeny is absent. With the help of some old or little-known illustrations from my own participant-observer experimental investigations, I will try here to ...


Pursuing Natural Unity, Consciousness Included, Rowen Cox-Rubien 2019 Claremont Colleges

Pursuing Natural Unity, Consciousness Included, Rowen Cox-Rubien

Scripps Senior Theses

An ontological exploration of consciousness and how it is related to the body and other aspects of physical reality. Framed by David Chalmers' conception of "The Hard Problem", we begin from a physicalist perspective to discuss the problem of mental causation, which is the inquiry of how the mind communicates and interacts with the body. From here we examine the employment of identity reduction to functionalize and therefore physically explain mentality. We find that reductionist methods, the backbone of scientific investigation, do not work to explain conscious experience, because conscious experience is not quantifiable--it is qualitative. Thus we are left ...


What Is Good For An Octopus?, Heather Browning 2019 Australian National University

What Is Good For An Octopus?, Heather Browning

Animal Sentience

Mather (2019) has brought together the current empirical research in support of the claim that octopuses possess minds; and the weight of the evidence does appear to support octopus sentience. Being sentient means an organism has welfare concerns, a subjective experience of life that can go well or poorly. Protecting welfare requires knowing what conditions will have a positive or negative impact. Understanding what is in the mind of an octopus will give us valuable insight into what is good for an octopus.


A Behavior-Analytic Approach To Understanding Octopus “Mind”, Lindsay R. Mehrkam 2019 Monmouth University

A Behavior-Analytic Approach To Understanding Octopus “Mind”, Lindsay R. Mehrkam

Animal Sentience

Mather makes a convincing case for octopus sentience based on a lot of evidence of their complex learning capabilities. It should follow from Mather’s findings that these intelligent invertebrates are worthy of welfare considerations, just as vertebrate species with similar capabilities are. I provide a complementary environment-behavior analysis of how we might understand the world of the octopus more straightforwardly, borrowing from Mather’s examples, to show how to promote opportunities for complex learning and species-typical behaviors in the octopus.


Octopus Minds Must Lead To Octopus Ethics, Barbara J. King, Lori Marino 2019 College of William and Mary

Octopus Minds Must Lead To Octopus Ethics, Barbara J. King, Lori Marino

Animal Sentience

Mather argues convincingly for the existence of minds in octopuses based largely on laboratory experiments. Many of these experiments are highly invasive and involve mutilation and death. Moreover, octopuses are now being hailed as a “new model” for biological research and are being enthusiastically bred in captivity, both for research and for food. We argue that the compelling evidence for mind in octopuses must be accompanied by intense scrutiny of the ethics that shape how we treat them and that the intrinsic value of their individual lives must be recognized.


The Octopus Mind: Implications For Cognitive Science, Sidney Carls-Diamante 2019 Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research

The Octopus Mind: Implications For Cognitive Science, Sidney Carls-Diamante

Animal Sentience

Mather consolidates the case for octopus mind and how it may be structured, shifting the starting point of inquiry from “If octopuses had minds, what would they be like?” to “What is the mind of an octopus like?”.


Sentience Is The Foundation Of Animal Rights, Michael L. Woodruff 2019 East Tennessee State University

Sentience Is The Foundation Of Animal Rights, Michael L. Woodruff

Animal Sentience

Chapman & Huffman argue that the cognitive differences between humans and nonhuman animals do not make humans superior to animals. I suggest that humans have domain-general cognitive abilities that make them superior in causing uniquely complex changes in the world not caused by any other species. The ability to conceive of and articulate a claim of rights is an example. However, possession of superior cognitive ability does not entitle humans to superior moral status. It is sentience, not cognitive complexity, that is the basis for the assignment of rights and the protections under the law that accompany them.


Phenotypic Similarity And Moral Consideration, S. Brian Hood, Sophia Giddens 2019 University of West Florida

Phenotypic Similarity And Moral Consideration, S. Brian Hood, Sophia Giddens

Animal Sentience

Identifying specific traits to justify according differential moral status to humans and non-human animals may be more challenging than Chapman & Huffman suggest. The reasons for this also go against their recommendation that we ought to attend to how humans and non-humans are similar. The problem lies in identifying the moral relevance of biological characteristics. There are, however, other reasons for treating non-human animals as worthy of moral consideration, such as the Precautionary Principle.


Pulling The Wool From Our Eyes, Jennifer Vonk 2019 Oakland University

Pulling The Wool From Our Eyes, Jennifer Vonk

Animal Sentience

Marino & Merskin review evidence of the complexity of sheep cognition, concluding that researchers ought to feel sheepish about misrepresenting ovine cognitive capacities. However, the failure to situate the data in critical context risks pulling the wool over readers’ eyes.


Sentient Animals Do Not Just Live In The Present, John Webster 2019 University of Bristol

Sentient Animals Do Not Just Live In The Present, John Webster

Animal Sentience

Sheep are particularly well-equipped with the cognitive and emotional skills appropriate to their phenotype and natural environment. These include spatial memory, the benefits of safety in numbers, and the ability to recognise special individuals in large flocks by sight and by sound. Marino & Merskin’s target article reviews convincing evidence on whether sheep are more or less clever than other mammalian species. Sheep are very good at being sheep. But sentient animals do not just live in the present. Their emotional state is not simply dictated by events of the moment. If they learn, they can cope; if not, they can experience chronic, non-adaptive stress. This is the big welfare problem.


The Mental Lives Of Sheep And The Quest For A Psychological Taxonomy, Carrie Figdor 2019 Univerity of Iowa

The Mental Lives Of Sheep And The Quest For A Psychological Taxonomy, Carrie Figdor

Animal Sentience

Research into nonhuman cognition has broadened and deepened in recent years. It supports and motivates a shift toward an ecological rather than an anthropocentric approach to cognition.


Debunking Human Prejudice And Blindness, Peter J. Li 2019 University of Houston-Downtown

Debunking Human Prejudice And Blindness, Peter J. Li

Animal Sentience

Human prejudice and blindness to animal suffering are shocking. Despite their differences in culture, politics, and religious beliefs, humans have one thing in common. They see nonhuman animals as inferior and have since time immemorial assumed a dominant position in an asymmetrical human-animal relationship. When it comes to human-animal relations, there is no “clash of civilizations.” Human prejudice and blindness are predicated on “common sense assumptions” about the natural world and nonhuman animals in particular. Marino & Merskin’s review is part of the growing effort to debunk the assumptions that have shaped human actions so as to end the injustice ...


What Every Shepherd Knows, Marthe Kiley-Worthington 2019 Centre d'Eco-Etho Recherche et Education.

What Every Shepherd Knows, Marthe Kiley-Worthington

Animal Sentience

The findings of the research reviewed by Marino & Merskin have been common knowledge to shepherds for millennia. Many of them are also evolutionary necessities for all mammals, especially social ones.


Can A Mirror Capture The Self?, Cynthia Willett 2019 Emory University

Can A Mirror Capture The Self?, Cynthia Willett

Animal Sentience

Is the mirror a reliable indicator of self-awareness for any species, whether sheep or human? Taking a cue from feminist, phenomenological, and cross-cultural philosophy, a relational self rather than a reflective one might better capture what is at stake for the lives of social animals and for science.


Corticocentric Bias In Cognitive Neuroscience, Orit Nafcha, Shai Gabay 2019 University of Haifa

Corticocentric Bias In Cognitive Neuroscience, Orit Nafcha, Shai Gabay

Animal Sentience

Chapman & Huffman (2018) note that our tendency to categorize leads to a sense of human superiority that helps justify violence against nonhuman animals. Yet animals are turning out to have capacities previously thought to be uniquely human. We add a further factor that may contribute to the false sense of human superiority: the "corticocentric" bias of neuroscience. An evolutionary approach may help identify species similarities and differences, providing a better understanding of the uniqueness of each species.


Scepticism About Moral Superiority, Derek Ball, Benjamin Sachs 2019 University of St Andrews

Scepticism About Moral Superiority, Derek Ball, Benjamin Sachs

Animal Sentience

Chapman & Huffman suggest that we might change people’s behavior toward animals by resisting an argument that because humans are intellectually superior to animals, they are also morally superior to animals. C & H try to show that the premise is false: Humans are not intellectually superior. Several commentators have resisted this response. We suggest that there are other ways of attacking the argument: The notion of moral superiority on which the argument relies is dubious, and the obvious ways of reformulating the argument are instances of the “naturalistic fallacy.”


Superior Or Inferior, Human Uniqueness Is Manifold, Scott Atran 2019 University of Michigan, University of Oxford

Superior Or Inferior, Human Uniqueness Is Manifold, Scott Atran

Animal Sentience

Chapman & Huffman (C & H) contend that, as with all biological traits, there is evolutionary continuity underlying cognitive and social traits previously thought to be unique to humans. Yet C & H, like Darwin, appeal to a seemingly unique moral aptitude that enables humans to be kind to conspecific strangers and other species.


Intelligence, Complexity, And Individuality In Sheep, Lori Marino, Debra Merskin 2019 Kimmela Center

Intelligence, Complexity, And Individuality In Sheep, Lori Marino, Debra Merskin

Animal Sentience

Domestic sheep (Ovis aries) are among the earliest animals domesticated for human use. They are consumed worldwide as mutton, hogget, and lamb, kept as wool and milk producers, and used extensively in scientific research. The popular stereotype is that sheep are docile, passive, unintelligent, and timid, but a review of the research on their behavior, affect, cognition, and personality reveals that they are complex, individualistic, and social.


Domestication And Cognitive Complexity, David R. Brodbeck, Madeleine I. R. Brodbeck, Keeghan Rosso 2019 Algoma University

Domestication And Cognitive Complexity, David R. Brodbeck, Madeleine I. R. Brodbeck, Keeghan Rosso

Animal Sentience

Marino and Merskin (2019) list a number of tasks that sheep can perform well. As comparative psychologists, we are not surprised by these results. Indeed, many domesticated animal species show similar abilities.


Adding Sheep To The Spectrum Of Comparative Psychology, James King 2019 University of Arizona

Adding Sheep To The Spectrum Of Comparative Psychology, James King

Animal Sentience

Marino & Merskin’s comprehensive review of cognitive complexity in sheep is a laudable and important contribution to comparative psychology. It is also valuable because it shows promising directions for future research on this neglected species. The relatively small number of neurons in the bovid cerebral cortex indicates that sheep cognitive performance on traditional measures of complex learning is limited. Nevertheless, the social and emotional complexity of sheep underscores the importance of further research into domains including personality and psychological well-being.


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