Arguments Against Animal Consciousness Essay

464 Words2 Pages
Arguments against animal consciousness have been resurfacing. One method of arguing against the claim that animals are conscious is to point to the flaws of arguments purporting to claim that animals are conscious. For example, Peter Harrison has recently argued that the Argument from Analogy, one of the most common arguments for the claim that animals are conscious, is hopelessly flawed. The Argument from Analogy relies on the similarities between animals and human beings in order to support the claim that animals are conscious. The similarities usually cited by proponents of this argument are similarities in behaviour, similarities in physical structures, and similarities in relative positions on the evolutionary scale. In other words, both human beings and animals respond in the same way when confronted with "pain stimuli"; both animals and human beings have brains, nerves, neurons, endorphins, and other structures; and both human beings and animals are relatively close…show more content…
He points out that so-called pain-behaviour is neither necessary nor sufficient for the experience of pain. It is not necessary because the best policy in some instances might be to not show that they are in pain. It is not sufficient since amoebas engage in pain behaviour, but we do not believe that they can feel pain. Likewise, we could easily program robots to engage in pain-behaviour, but we would not conclude that they feel pain. The similarity of animal and human physical structures is inconclusive because we have no idea how, or even if, the physical structure of human beings gives rise to experiences in the first place. Evolutionary considerations are not conclusive either, because it is only pain behaviour, and not the experience of pain itself, that would be advantageous in the struggle for survival. Harrison concludes that since the strongest argument for the claim that animals are conscious fails, one should not believe that they are
Open Document