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Full-Text Articles in Philosophy

Still Wondering How Flesh Can Feel, Gwen J. Broude Dec 2016

Still Wondering How Flesh Can Feel, Gwen J. Broude

Animal Sentience

Reber believes he has simplified Chalmers’s “hard problem” of consciousness by arguing that subjectivity is an inherent feature of biological forms. His argument rests on the related notions of continuity of mind and gradual accretion of capacities across evolutionary time. These notions need to be defended, not just asserted. Because Reber minimizes the differences in mental faculties among species across evolutionary time, it becomes easier to assert, and perhaps believe, that sentience is already present in early biological forms. The more explicit we are about the differences among these mental faculties and the differences across species, the less persuasive ...


Reber’S Caterpillar Offers No Help, Carl Safina Dec 2016

Reber’S Caterpillar Offers No Help, Carl Safina

Animal Sentience

Reber’s target article “Caterpillars, consciousness and the origins of mind” seems only to shift but not to address the question of where the mind is and how minds occur.



Resolving The Hard Problem And Calling For A Small Miracle, Arthur S. Reber Nov 2016

Resolving The Hard Problem And Calling For A Small Miracle, Arthur S. Reber

Animal Sentience

With the exception of the commentary by Key, the commentaries on Reber have a common feature: the commenters feel, with varying levels of enthusiasm, that there is at least some virtue in the core assumption of the Cellular Basis of Consciousness (CBC) theory that consciousness (or subjectivity or sentience) accompanies the earliest forms of life. The model has two important entailments: (a) it resolves the (in)famous Hard Problem by redirecting the search for the biochemical foundations of sentience away from human consciousness; and (b) it reduces the need for an emergentist miracle to a far simpler scale than is ...


Aquatic Animals, Cognitive Ethology, And Ethics: Questions About Sentience And Other Troubling Issues That Lurk In Turbid Water, Marc Bekoff Sep 2016

Aquatic Animals, Cognitive Ethology, And Ethics: Questions About Sentience And Other Troubling Issues That Lurk In Turbid Water, Marc Bekoff

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D.

In this general, strongly pro-animal, and somewhat utopian and personal essay, I argue that we owe aquatic animals respect and moral consideration just as we owe respect and moral consideration to all other animal beings, regardless of the taxonomic group to which they belong. In many ways it is more difficult to convince some people of our ethical obligations to numerous aquatic animals because we do not identify or empathize with them as we do with animals with whom we are more familiar or to whom we are more closely related, including those species (usually terrestrial) to whom we refer ...


Bacteria And The Cellular Basis Of Consciousness, Michael L. Woodruff Aug 2016

Bacteria And The Cellular Basis Of Consciousness, Michael L. Woodruff

Animal Sentience

According to Reber’s theory, the Cellular Basis of Consciousness (CBC), sentience originates as bio-sensitivity in unicellular organisms. For this reason, Reber regards sentience as evolutionarily foundational. Many bacteria show chemotaxis and, thus, according to CBC, they are sentient. Analysis of the genetic mechanisms underlying bacterial chemotaxis indicates that sentience has no explanatory power in this case. Genetic analysis also fails to show species continuity underlying bio-sensitivity in bacteria and bio-sensitivity in species with nervous systems, so it does not seem that sentience is evolutionary foundational. CBC is rejected on these grounds.


The Moral Dimension Of Pre-Reflective Self-Awareness, Susana Monsó Aug 2016

The Moral Dimension Of Pre-Reflective Self-Awareness, Susana Monsó

Animal Sentience

Rowlands offers a de-intellectualised account of personhood that is meant to secure the unity of a mental life. I argue that his characterisation also singles out a morally relevant feature of individuals. Along the same lines that the orthodox understanding of personhood reflects a fundamental precondition for moral agency, Rowlands’s notion provides a fundamental precondition for moral patienthood.


Is Cortex Necessary?, Sean Allen-Hermanson Aug 2016

Is Cortex Necessary?, Sean Allen-Hermanson

Animal Sentience

A key contention of Klein & Barron (2016) is that consciousness does not depend on cortical structures. A critical appraisal suggests they have overestimated the strength of their evidence.


Insects Have Agency But Probably Not Sentience Because They Lack Social Bonding, J. H. Van Hateren Aug 2016

Insects Have Agency But Probably Not Sentience Because They Lack Social Bonding, J. H. Van Hateren

Animal Sentience

Klein & Barron (2016) argue that insects have sentience because of functional similarities between the insect brain and vertebrate midbrain. Based on a recent theory of agency and consciousness, I argue that the functional similarities merely point to an advanced form of agency. Insects presumably lack the capacity for social bonding that may be required for subjective experiencing.


Cephalopods Are Best Candidates For Invertebrate Consciousness, Jennifer A. Mather, Claudio Carere Jul 2016

Cephalopods Are Best Candidates For Invertebrate Consciousness, Jennifer A. Mather, Claudio Carere

Animal Sentience

Insects might have been the first invertebrates to evolve sentience, but cephalopods were the first invertebrates to gain scientific recognition for it.


In Theory, There's Hope: Queer Co-(M)Motions Of Science And Subjectivity, Cordelia Sand Jan 2016

In Theory, There's Hope: Queer Co-(M)Motions Of Science And Subjectivity, Cordelia Sand

Masters Theses

Given the state of the planet at present —specifically, the linked global ecological and economic crises that conjure dark imaginings and nihilistic actualities of increasing resource depletion, poisonings, and wide-scale sufferings and extinctions—I ask What might we hope now? What points of intervention offer possibility for transformation? At best, the response can only be partial. The approach this thesis takes initiates from specific pre-discursive assumptions. The first understands current conditions as having been produced, and continuing to be so, through practices that enact and sustain neoliberal relations. Secondly, these practices are expressive of a subjectivity tied to a Cartesian ...


What Would The Babel Fish Say?, Monica Gagliano Jan 2016

What Would The Babel Fish Say?, Monica Gagliano

Animal Sentience

Starting with its title, Key’s (2016) target article advocates the view that fish do not feel pain. The author describes the neuroanatomical, physiological and behavioural conditions involved in the experience of pain in humans and rodents and confidently applies analogical arguments as though they were established facts in support of the negative conclusion about the inability of fish to feel pain. The logical reasoning, unfortunately, becomes somewhat incoherent, with the arbitrary application of the designated human criteria for an analogical argument to one animal species (e.g., rodents) but not another (fish). Research findings are reported selectively, and questionable ...


Cortex Necessary For Pain — But Not In Sense That Matters, Adam J. Shriver Jan 2016

Cortex Necessary For Pain — But Not In Sense That Matters, Adam J. Shriver

Animal Sentience

Certain cortical regions are necessary for pain in humans in the sense that, at particular times, they play a direct role in pain. However, it is not true that they are necessary in the more important sense that pain is never possible in humans without them. There are additional details from human lesion studies concerning functional plasticity that undermine Key’s (2016) interpretation. Moreover, no one has yet identified any specific behaviors that mammalian cortical pain regions make possible that are absent in fish.


Animal Suffering Calls For More Than A Bigger Cage, Simon R. B. Leadbeater Jan 2016

Animal Suffering Calls For More Than A Bigger Cage, Simon R. B. Leadbeater

Animal Sentience

Ng (2016) argues for incremental welfare biology partly because it would be impossible to demonstrate conclusively that animals are sentient. He argues that low cost changes in industrial practices and working collaboratively may be more effective in advancing animal welfare than more adversarial approaches. There is merit in some of Ng’s recommendations but a number of his arguments are, in my view, misdirected. The fact that nonhuman animals feel has already been adequately demonstrated. Cruelty to animals is intrinsic to some industries, so the only way to oppose it is to oppose the industry.


Is Sentience Only A Nonessential Component Of Animal Welfare?, Ian J.H. Duncan Jan 2016

Is Sentience Only A Nonessential Component Of Animal Welfare?, Ian J.H. Duncan

Animal Sentience

According to Broom (2014), animal welfare is a concept that can be applied to all animals, including single-celled organisms that are obviously not sentient. Such a stance makes it difficult to draw a connection between welfare and sentience, and that is the book’s downfall. Some excellent points are made about sentience and there are very good discussions on animal welfare. However, unless sentience is considered the essential component of welfare, any attempt to link the two phenomena will be unsuccessful — and that, indeed, is the case with this book.


Mentality And Animal Welfare, Mark Rowlands Jan 2016

Mentality And Animal Welfare, Mark Rowlands

Animal Sentience

In this commentary I discuss the concept of sentience as used in Broom’s book Sentience and Animal Welfare (2014). Broom’s understanding of sentience is, I suggest, both misleading and revealing. Appreciating why this is so is important for understanding the connection between the mental life of animals and their moral status.


Hermes In The Anthropocene: A Dogologue, Karen Malpede Jan 2016

Hermes In The Anthropocene: A Dogologue, Karen Malpede

Animal Sentience

In this dogologue, a writer and the dog who sits near her desk as she works speak. The dog is concerned about the fate of the world in the hands of humans. His urgent questions send the writer into the world of her own memories when she was a child alone with a horse in nature.


Pain In Fish: Weighing The Evidence, James D. Rose Jan 2016

Pain In Fish: Weighing The Evidence, James D. Rose

Animal Sentience

The target article by Key (2016) examines whether fish have brain structures capable of mediating pain perception and consciousness, functions known to depend on the neocortex in humans. He concludes, as others have concluded (Rose 2002, 2007; Rose et al. 2014), that such functions are impossible for fish brains. This conclusion has been met with hypothetical assertions by others to the effect that functions of pain and consciousness may well be possible through unknown alternate neural processes. Key's argument would be bolstered by consideration of other neurological as well as behavioral evidence, which shows that sharks and ray are ...


Brain Processes For “Good” And “Bad” Feelings: How Far Back In Evolution?, Jaak Panksepp Jan 2016

Brain Processes For “Good” And “Bad” Feelings: How Far Back In Evolution?, Jaak Panksepp

Animal Sentience

The question of whether fish can experience pain or any other feelings can only be resolved by neurobiologically targeted experiments. This commentary summarizes why this is essential for resolving scientific debates about consciousness in other animals, and offers specific experiments that need to be done: (i) those that evaluate the rewarding and punishing effects of specific brain regions and systems (for instance, with deep-brain stimulation); (ii) those that evaluate the capacity of animals to regulate their affective states; and (iii) those that have direct implications for human affective feelings, with specific predictions — for instance, the development of new treatments for ...