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Life Sciences

Animal Sentience

Animal consciousness

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Full-Text Articles in Philosophy

Post-Darwin Skepticism And Run-Of-The-Mill Suicide, John Hadley Jan 2018

Post-Darwin Skepticism And Run-Of-The-Mill Suicide, John Hadley

Animal Sentience

Peña-Guzmán’s depiction of the opponent of animal suicide as a conservative is a straw man. It is possible to accept that animals are self-conscious and reflexive yet still reject the view that they have the mental wherewithal to commit run-of-the-mill suicide. That animal behaviour can be positioned on a continuum of self-destructive behaviour does not establish that animals can intentionally kill themselves.


Insulting Words: "They Are Animals!", Carolyn A. Ristau Jan 2018

Insulting Words: "They Are Animals!", Carolyn A. Ristau

Animal Sentience

As Chapman & Huffman state, creating divisive human categories has rationalized atrocities committed against the “other.” Labeling neighboring warring villagers as “animals” is considered a despicable insult. Yet contemporary scientific views of many animals grant them thinking and conscious faculties, and the capacity for impressive achievements, many unattainable by humans. Robots, too, can accomplish many similar feats. But the essential reason we must protect animals is not because of their admirable abilities, but their capacity for consciousness, for suffering. Robots are not conscious. Participants in the human-animal debate should not complain about changing criteria for determining human uniqueness. New and refined ...


Evolutionary Continuity, Anne Benvenuti Jan 2017

Evolutionary Continuity, Anne Benvenuti

Animal Sentience

The principle of evolutionary continuity states that all animal capacities and behaviors exist — with variations in degree — in continuity with other species. Rather than assuming discontinuity, we should ask why any behavior observed in humans would not be found in at least some other sentient animals under similar conditions. In the case of suicide, the more pertinent issue might be the ethical one: our human responsibility for creating conditions under which other animals might deliberately seek to end their own lives.


We Still Need A Theory, Paula Droege Jan 2017

We Still Need A Theory, Paula Droege

Animal Sentience

Woodruff (2017) has compiled a convincing array of data to support his contention that teleost fish feel pain. However, in the absence of an explanatory theory about the nature and function of consciousness, a checklist of criteria is insufficient to allay skeptical concerns. I offer a theory that can explain why features like selective attention and behavioral flexibility indicate consciousness. Consciousness represents the present moment in order to allow dynamic changes in actions or goals in response to situational demands.


The Difference Between Conscious And Unconscious Brain Circuits, Ezequiel Morsella, Zaviera Reyes Nov 2016

The Difference Between Conscious And Unconscious Brain Circuits, Ezequiel Morsella, Zaviera Reyes

Animal Sentience

Theoretical frameworks in which consciousness is an inherent property of the neuron must account for the contrast between conscious and unconscious processes in the brain and address how neural events can ever be unconscious if consciousness is a property of all neurons. Other approaches have sought answers regarding consciousness by contrasting conscious and unconscious processes and through investigating the complex interactions between the two kinds of processes, as occurs most notably in human voluntary action. In voluntary action, consciousness is associated most, not with motor control or low-level perceptual processing, but with the stage of processing known as action selection.



Evolutionary Continuity Of Personhood, Anne Benvenuti Sep 2016

Evolutionary Continuity Of Personhood, Anne Benvenuti

Animal Sentience

Rowlands applies the two organizing ideas of the Lockean concept of personhood — mental life and unity — to animals as potential persons. Especially valuable in this context is his descriptive phenomenology of pre-reflective self-awareness as a fundamental form of mental life that necessarily entails unity. Rowland describes certain fundamentals of mental experience that exist across species boundaries, challenging assumptions of early modern philosophers regarding the definition of human personhood and affirming the principle of evolutionary continuity. This opens the door to a broader and deeper set of questions, related to whether we should continue to attempt to apply to other animals ...


What Makes Us Conscious Is Not What Makes Us Human, Ezequiel Morsella, Erica B. Walker Aug 2016

What Makes Us Conscious Is Not What Makes Us Human, Ezequiel Morsella, Erica B. Walker

Animal Sentience

Consistent with the promising proposal of Klein & Barron (K & B), we discuss how what makes us conscious appears to be distinct from and more widespread in the animal kingdom than what distinguishes us from other species. Many of the abilities that do distinguish humans from other species (e.g., syntax and co-articulation in speech production) can be mediated unconsciously. The kind of functional architecture proposed by K & B may engender an “action selection bottleneck” in both humans and nonhuman species. As noted by K & B, this bottleneck is intimately related to conscious processing.


Implicit Mental Processes Are An Improbable Basis For Personhood, Michael L. Woodruff Jul 2016

Implicit Mental Processes Are An Improbable Basis For Personhood, Michael L. Woodruff

Animal Sentience

Rowlands argues that animals have implicit pre-reflective awareness and that this is adequate to create the unity of conscious thought required for personhood. For him pre-reflective awareness does not include intentionality and is probably an unconscious process. I suggest that his sense of implicit leads to significant difficulties for his argument and that including intentionality in the definition of a first-person perspective provides a stronger base for viewing animals as persons.