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consciousness

John H. Casada casad at umich.edu
Thu May 22 15:22:50 EST 1997


Eugene Khutoryansky wrote:
> 
><enormous snip>
> If you think this is just a trivial linguistics game, think again.  In
> the animal rights debate, there are still many people who believe that it
> is OK to perform any experiment for any reason because other animals do
> not actually feel anything.  Dispelling such myths has a moral urgency,
> do to the immoral behavior believing in such myths will lead to.

This seems to be developing into the kind of debate that will have no 
winners.  Each side can come up with their champions that believe that 
"all animals are conscious" and those that believe that "only humans 
are conscious."  (The argument that if one denies consciousness to an 
animal one must accept as certain only that he, himself, is conscious 
does strike me as a trivial liguistic game and a trick of sophistry -- 
don't tell me what I must think, ask me what I think and why.)  There 
are some who jump lightly from the concept of "consciousness" to the 
concept of "sensience" and treat these as equals.  I have yet to be 
shown how the concept of sensience necessarily leads to consciousness.  
It seems as if the acceptance or rejection of this leap rests on 
faith, emotion, or inuition much more than it depends on "unassailable 
logic."

If we are to discuss "consciousness," then please let us agree on what 
we are talking about. If we are going to talk about a variety of 
phenomena that we may (or legitimately may not) think are correlated 
with "consciousness" then let us say so.  But let's try to avoid 
talking about "sensience" and pretending we are talking about 
"consciousness."  Let's also learn if we are talking in code about 
animal rights (which may reveal what "leaps of faith" we already have 
made) or if we are really open to discussing the topic from basic 
priciples.



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