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Full-Text Articles in Philosophy

Octopi-Ing A Unique Niche In Comparative Psychology, Jennifer Vonk Jan 2019

Octopi-Ing A Unique Niche In Comparative Psychology, Jennifer Vonk

Animal Sentience

Mather’s work has been fundamental in informing scientists of the relatively mysterious behavior and cognition of an understudied group of animals – the cephalopods. This work helps to fill a gap in the comparative literature that has historically sought evidence for complex behavior only in species that are closely related to humans or share important ecological features such as social complexity.


Our Brains Make Us Out To Be Unique In Ways We Are Not, Matthew J. Criscione, Julian Paul Keenan Jan 2019

Our Brains Make Us Out To Be Unique In Ways We Are Not, Matthew J. Criscione, Julian Paul Keenan

Animal Sentience

Humans have long viewed themselves in a favorable light. This bias is consistent with a general pattern of self-enhancement. Neural systems in the medial prefrontal cortex underlie this way of thinking, which, even when false, may be beneficial for survival. It is hence not surprising that we often disregard contrary evidence in believing ourselves superior.


Sentience Is The Foundation Of Animal Rights, Michael L. Woodruff Jan 2019

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.


Animal Suicide: An Account Worth Giving?, Irina Mikhalevich Jan 2018

Animal Suicide: An Account Worth Giving?, Irina Mikhalevich

Animal Sentience

Peña-Guzmán (2017) argues that empirical evidence and evolutionary theory compel us to treat the phenomenon of suicide as continuous in the animal kingdom. He defends a “continuist” account in which suicide is a multiply-realizable phenomenon characterized by self-injurious and self-annihilative behaviors. This view is problematic for several reasons. First, it appears to mischaracterize the Darwinian view that mind is continuous in nature. Second, by focusing only on surface-level features of behavior, it groups causally and etiologically disparate phenomena under a single conceptual umbrella, thereby reducing the account’s explanatory power. Third, it obscures existing analyses of suicide in biomedical ethics ...


Can They Suffer?, Todd K. Shackelford Jan 2018

Can They Suffer?, Todd K. Shackelford

Animal Sentience

We should treat sentient nonhuman animals as worthy of moral consideration, not because we share an evolutionary history with them, but because they can suffer. As Chapman & Huffman (2018) argue, humans are not uniquely disconnected from other species. We should minimize the suffering we inflict on sentient beings — whether human or nonhuman — not because they, too, are tool-makers or have sophisticated communication systems, but because they, too, can suffer, and suffering is bad.


Human Evolution And Divine Agency, Alexandra Rakestraw May 2017

Human Evolution And Divine Agency, Alexandra Rakestraw

Dialogue & Nexus

Modern Christians often find themselves at a crossroads when confronted with the two predominant understandings of human and universal origins. Plain sense readings of Genesis lead many to believe in a historical six-day creation that occurred in the past ten thousand years while proponents on the other side of the spectrum use current scientific understanding to support a creation that occurs through evolutionary means. How one views human origins has a profound impact on one’s concept of how God works in the cosmos. In this paper, I will lay out a background to better understand the characters of Adam ...


Consciousness Is Not Inherent In But Emergent From Life, Jon Mallatt, Todd E. Feinberg Jan 2017

Consciousness Is Not Inherent In But Emergent From Life, Jon Mallatt, Todd E. Feinberg

Animal Sentience

Reber’s theory of the cellular basis of consciousness (CBC) is right to emphasize that we should study consciousness (sentience) in its simplest form, taking its evolution into account. However, not enough evidence is presented to support CBC’s unorthodox claim that even simple, one-celled organisms are conscious. As pointed out by other commentators, the CBC seems to be based on outdated ideas about evolution and does not acknowledge that consciousness could be an evolutionary novel feature. Such emergent features are abundant in living organisms. We review our own emergentist solution, in which consciousness evolved in the elaborating nervous systems ...


Understanding Innovation And Imitation In Evolution, Karen Kovaka Jan 2017

Understanding Innovation And Imitation In Evolution, Karen Kovaka

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Biologists have a long history of arguing about the relative importance of organisms and environments in driving evolution. Do organisms passively respond to their environments or actively shape them? Is the environment just a filter that removes the least fit organisms from each generation, or also a source of new traits? The most recent incarnation of these debates focuses on developmental plasticity, a developing organism's sensitivity to environmental inputs. All organisms are plastic to some degree. Many can change their sex, morphology, and behavior in response to their environments. The question for biologists is, does the widespread presence of ...


Darwinian Evolutionary Theory And Constructions Of Race In Nazi Germany: A Literary And Cultural Analysis Of Darwin’S Works And Nazi Rhetoric, Emily M. Wollmuth Jan 2017

Darwinian Evolutionary Theory And Constructions Of Race In Nazi Germany: A Literary And Cultural Analysis Of Darwin’S Works And Nazi Rhetoric, Emily M. Wollmuth

Departmental Honors Projects

First published in 1856, Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species is one of the most impactful scientific writings in history. While the influence of Darwinian evolutionary theory on historical events has been widely studied, no single work of scholarship has previously combined close reading of Origin’s representations of “race” with analysis of how those constructions of “racial” difference are (mis)translated across the cultural discourses of the eugenics movement and Nazi Germany. Through comparative cultural studies and close literary analysis of Hitler’s Mein Kampf and Darwin’s works—including Origin, Descent of Man, and Voyage of the Beagle ...


Cognitive Continuity In Cognitive Dissonance, David R. Brodbeck, Madeleine I. R. Brodbeck Jan 2017

Cognitive Continuity In Cognitive Dissonance, David R. Brodbeck, Madeleine I. R. Brodbeck

Animal Sentience

Zentall’s (2016) model of cognitive dissonance is compatible with cognitive continuity between humans and nonhumans. It may help explain cognitive dissonance-like behavior in many species, including humans. It is also consistent with Tinbergen’s (1963) ‘four whys’ in ethological explanation.


The Emotional Brain Of Fish, Sonia Rey Planellas Jan 2017

The Emotional Brain Of Fish, Sonia Rey Planellas

Animal Sentience

Woodruff (2017) analyzes structural homologies and functional equivalences between the brains of mammals and fish to understand where sentience and social cognition might reside in teleosts. He compares neuroanatomical, neurophysiological and behavioural correlates. I discuss current advances in the study of fish cognitive abilities and emotions, and advocate an evolutionary approach to the underlying basis of sentience in teleosts.


How Could Consciousness Emerge From Adaptive Functioning?, Max Velmans Sep 2016

How Could Consciousness Emerge From Adaptive Functioning?, Max Velmans

Animal Sentience

The sudden appearance of consciousness that Reber posits in creatures with flexible cell walls and motility rather than non-flexible cells walls and no motility involves an evolutionary discontinuity. This kind of “miracle” is required by all “discontinuity” theories of consciousness. To avoid miraculous emergence, one may need to consider continuity theories, which accept that different forms of consciousness and material functioning co-evolve but assume the existence of consciousness to be primal in the way that matter and energy are assumed to be primal in physics.


“Cellular Basis Of Consciousness”: Not Just Radical But Wrong, Brian Key Sep 2016

“Cellular Basis Of Consciousness”: Not Just Radical But Wrong, Brian Key

Animal Sentience

Reber (2016) attempts to resuscitate an obscure and outdated hypothesis referred to as the “cellular basis of consciousness” that was originally formulated by the author nearly twenty years ago. This hypothesis proposes that any organism with flexible cell walls, a sensitivity to its surrounds, and the capacity for locomotion will possess the biological foundations of mind and consciousness. Reber seeks to reduce consciousness to a fundamental property inherent to individual cells rather than to centralised nervous systems. This commentary shows how this hypothesis is based on supposition, false premises and a misunderstanding of evolutionary theory. The cellular basis of consciousness ...


Beginnings: Physics, Sentience And Luca, Carolyn A. Ristau Sep 2016

Beginnings: Physics, Sentience And Luca, Carolyn A. Ristau

Animal Sentience

According to Reber’s model, Cellular Basis of Consciousness (CBC), sentience had its origins in a unicellular organism and is an inherent property of living, mobile organic forms. He argues by analogy to basic physical forces which he considers to be inherent properties of matter; I suggest that they are instead the stuff of scientific investigation in physics. I find no convincing argument that sentience had to begin in endogenously mobile cells, a criterial attribute of the originator cell(s)for sentience according to CBC. Non-endogenously mobile cells, (i.e., plants or precursors) in a moving environment would suffice. Despite ...


Fish Pain: An Inconvenient Truth, Culum Brown May 2016

Fish Pain: An Inconvenient Truth, Culum Brown

Culum Brown, Ph.D.

Whether fish feel pain is a hot political topic. The consequences of our denial are huge given the billions of fish that are slaughtered annually for human consumption. The economic costs of changing our commercial fishery harvest practices are also likely to be great. Key outlines a structure-function analogy of pain in humans, tries to force that template on the rest of the vertebrate kingdom, and fails. His target article has so far elicited 34 commentaries from scientific experts from a broad range of disciplines; only three of these support his position. The broad consensus from the scientific community is ...


Slavery, Welfare And The Sixth Extinction, Stephen R. Clark Mar 2016

Slavery, Welfare And The Sixth Extinction, Stephen R. Clark

Animal Sentience

Ng’s laudable concern for animal welfare would be welcome to any sensible slave-owner wishing to preserve his investment. What welfarism – for slave-owners and animal husbandmen – fails to call into question is whether we have the right to breed, hold captive and kill animals at all: If it matters, as the widely recognized slogan of ‘Five Freedoms’ suggests, that animals have the chance to live a ‘normal’ life, then more matters than keeping them ‘happy’ in subjection. Their lives – and also the lives of wild things – also deserve respect.


The Confluence Of Philosophy And Biology: An Excavation Of Philosophical Issues In Molecular And Developmental Biology, Patrick Johnson Mendie, Emmanuel Bassey Eyo (Ph.D) Jan 2016

The Confluence Of Philosophy And Biology: An Excavation Of Philosophical Issues In Molecular And Developmental Biology, Patrick Johnson Mendie, Emmanuel Bassey Eyo (Ph.D)

Online Journal of Health Ethics

Philosophical evaluations have played an influential role in the growth and development of molecular and developmental biology to ensure that every individual is born healthy, born wanted and has the privilege to fulfil his or her potentials for a life free from disease and disability. This is why it becomes necessary for biologists to carefully understand human genes, evolution, cells and general human anatomy to fulfil this project. During this process, they are faced with challenges where they also lack the foundation on how to solve them. This challenge gave birth to a philosophical excavation of molecular and developmental biology ...


Pain-Capable Neural Substrates May Be Widely Available In The Animal Kingdom, Edgar T. Walters Jan 2016

Pain-Capable Neural Substrates May Be Widely Available In The Animal Kingdom, Edgar T. Walters

Animal Sentience

Neural and behavioral evidence from diverse species indicates that some forms of pain may be generated by coordinated activity in networks far smaller than the cortical pain matrix in mammals. Studies on responses to injury in squid suggest that simplification of the circuitry necessary for conscious pain might be achieved by restricting awareness to very limited information about a noxious event, possibly only to the fact that injury has occurred, ignoring information that is much less important for survival, such as the location of the injury. Some of the neural properties proposed to be critical for conscious pain in mammals ...


Fish Pain: An Inconvenient Truth, Culum Brown Jan 2016

Fish Pain: An Inconvenient Truth, Culum Brown

Animal Sentience

Whether fish feel pain is a hot political topic. The consequences of our denial are huge given the billions of fish that are slaughtered annually for human consumption. The economic costs of changing our commercial fishery harvest practices are also likely to be great. Key outlines a structure-function analogy of pain in humans, tries to force that template on the rest of the vertebrate kingdom, and fails. His target article has so far elicited 34 commentaries from scientific experts from a broad range of disciplines; only three of these support his position. The broad consensus from the scientific community is ...


Pain And Fish Welfare, Eliane Gonçalves-De-Freitas Jan 2016

Pain And Fish Welfare, Eliane Gonçalves-De-Freitas

Animal Sentience

The evolutionary approach of Key’s (2016) target article, generically comparing humans with fish of all kinds, is simplistic. The author ignores published research on structural and molecular aspects of pain in fish. The target article reads more like a selective polemic against fish welfare than an even-handed analysis.


Conservative Evolution, Sustainability, And Culture, Gábor Náray-Szabó Mar 2014

Conservative Evolution, Sustainability, And Culture, Gábor Náray-Szabó

CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture

In his article "Conservative Evolution, Sustainability, and Culture" Gábor Náray-Szabó argues that evolution is conservative in the sense that throughout the history of the universe old constructs like elementary particles, amino acids, and living cells remained conserved while the world evolved/evolves in complexity. A similar process can be observed in cultural evolution as components of society and culture continue to evolve. Considering the increasing pressure on natural resources by material consumption, a close alliance between past, present, and future generations is unavoidable and thus Náray-Szabó posits that concepts of conservative evolution and sustainability are related. However, in order to ...


The Evolutionary Function Of Conscious Information Processing Is Revealed By Its Task-Dependency In The Olfactory System, Andreas Keller Feb 2014

The Evolutionary Function Of Conscious Information Processing Is Revealed By Its Task-Dependency In The Olfactory System, Andreas Keller

Publications and Research

Although many responses to odorous stimuli are mediated without olfactory information being consciously processed, some olfactory behaviors require conscious information processing. I will here contrast situations in which olfactory information is processed consciously to situations in which it is processed non-consciously. This contrastive analysis reveals that conscious information processing is required when an organism is faced with tasks in which there are many behavioral options available. I therefore propose that it is the evolutionary function of conscious information processing to guide behaviors in situations in which the organism has to choose between many possible responses.


The Failure Of Evolution In Antiquity, Devin Henry Jan 2014

The Failure Of Evolution In Antiquity, Devin Henry

Devin Henry

This paper traces the emergence and rejection of evolutionary thinking in antiquity. It examines Empedocles' original theory of evolution and why his ideas failed to gain traction among his predecessors.


Fitness: Philosophical Problems, Grant Ramsey, Charles H. Pence Jan 2013

Fitness: Philosophical Problems, Grant Ramsey, Charles H. Pence

Faculty Publications

Fitness plays many roles throughout evolutionary theory, from a measure of populations in the wild to a central element in abstract theoretical presentations of natural selection. It has thus been the subject of an extensive philosophical literature, which has primarily centred on the way to understand the relationship between fitness values and reproductive outcomes. If fitness is a probabilistic or statistical quantity, how is it to be defined in general theoretical contexts? How can it be measured? Can a single conceptual model for fitness be offered that applies to all biological cases, or must fitness measures be case-specific? Philosophers have ...


Natural Selection And Moral Sentiment: Evolutionary Biology's Challenge To Moral Philosophy, Charles W. Wright May 2012

Natural Selection And Moral Sentiment: Evolutionary Biology's Challenge To Moral Philosophy, Charles W. Wright

Headwaters

No abstract provided.


The Chicken Challenge – What Contemporary Studies Of Fowl Mean For Science And Ethics, Carolynn L. Smith, Jane Johnson Feb 2012

The Chicken Challenge – What Contemporary Studies Of Fowl Mean For Science And Ethics, Carolynn L. Smith, Jane Johnson

Between the Species

Studies with captive fowl have revealed that they possess greater cognitive capacities than previously thought. We now know that fowl have sophisticated cognitive and communicative skills, which had hitherto been associated only with certain primates. Several theories have been advanced to explain the evolution of such complex behavior. Central to these theories is the enlargement of the brain in species with greater mental capacities. Fowl present us with a conundrum, however, because they show the behaviors anticipated by the theories but do not have the expected changes in the brain. Consequently fowl present two challenges of interest to us here ...


Risen Apes And Fallen Angels: The New Museology Of Human Origins, Stephen Asma Mar 2011

Risen Apes And Fallen Angels: The New Museology Of Human Origins, Stephen Asma

Stephen T Asma

There has been a little explosion of "origin" exhibitions in the past few years. The recent bicentennial of Darwin's birth, in 2009, ushered in a bevy of traveling exhibitions and events. Grandscale permanent exhibitions have recently opened at the American Museum of Natural History (the Spitzer Hall of Human Origins) in New York, and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins) in Washington, D.C. A new museology is afoot, and some of the recent changes are worth tracking. And let's not forget the recently opened Creation Museum in ...


Biological Mechanisms And Evolution, Michael Zerella Jan 2011

Biological Mechanisms And Evolution, Michael Zerella

Philosophy Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Recent work in philosophy of biology has challenged the traditional assumption in philosophy of science that proper scientific explanations and predictions must be grounded in laws of nature that hold with necessity. Philosophical work on mechanisms in biology and cognitive science has shown that the traditional view, on its own, is too restrictive to account for scientific explanations and predictions in the complex, contingent realm of living systems. In the first part of my dissertation, I defend the view that a mechanistic approach to biology is preferable to the traditional approach, and I defend my own realist account of biological ...


Strokes Of Existence: The Connection Of All Things, Mari Gorman Jan 2007

Strokes Of Existence: The Connection Of All Things, Mari Gorman

Graduate Student Publications and Research

Acted or real—and all life is real whether one is acting or not—the common denominator and consistent, ubiquitous reality of life and all behavior is that it manifests in the form of relationships on all scales. But what is a relationship? Until now, the answer to this question has not been sufficiently known. As a result of many years of empirical research that began with the aim of discovering what is going on in a gifted actor when s/he is playing a character that can be observed and experienced as a living, intuitive being, and based on ...


Who Believes What? Clearing Up Confusion Over Intelligent Design And Young-Earth Creationism, Marcus R. Ross Jan 2005

Who Believes What? Clearing Up Confusion Over Intelligent Design And Young-Earth Creationism, Marcus R. Ross

Marcus R. Ross

The question of what differentiates young-Earth creationism (YEC) from Intelligent Design (ID) has resulted in inaccurate and confusing terminology, and hinders both understanding and dialogue. Though both YEC and ID groups have drawn distinctions between themselves, previous attempts to classify design-based positions on origins have been unable to adequately resolve their relationships. The Nested Hierarchy of Design, a multiple-character classification system, categorizes teleological positions according to the strength of claims regarding the reality, detectability, source, method, and timing of design, and results in an accurate and robust classification of numerous positions. This method avoids the philosophical and theological pitfalls of ...