Dualism - Research Paper Example

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Name 1 Name Class Instructor Date The Evolution of Consciousness: A Case for Ethical Treatment of Animals Animal sentience and the ethical debate over what constitutes abuse of animal rights has been the subject of scientific and philosophical writings since the time of Aristotle…
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Download file to see previous pages Are medical researchers within their rights to experiment on animals if their research helps cure diseases? Do animal rights properly belong to the realm of philosophy and pedagogy, or is it a matter for the courts? At the crux of the issue is the meaning of “sentience.” Does feeling (i.e. physical sensation) equate to intelligence? The main thrust of this paper is to argue that the ability to feel pain establishes a minimum ethical criterion for not experimenting on animals and, if by extension, feelings and other “emotions” are deemed to be present, then animal protection should acquire the force of law. Aristotle wrote that animals meet this minimum criterion, arguing that they are endowed with perceptive sensitivity, “which appears inherent in all animals, for they have an innate power, which (is called) sensible perception…” (Aristotle, 354). But when it came to this sensitivity, Aristotle said, not all animals are created equal. He said that “sense being inherent Name 2 in some animals, a permanency of the sensible object is engendered, but in others it is not engendered,” as would be the case with insects, for instance (Aristotle, 354). Descartes made a similar distinction, but one which drew on man’s supposedly divine nature, asserting that while animals wield an intelligence that allows them to carry out basic tasks, such as finding shelter, this intelligence “is of a significantly inferior type to the rational intelligence of man, which comes from his soul” (Kang, 117). Ultimately, Descartes decided that animal intelligence cannot be compared to that of humans, because animals are unable to reason or communicate verbally. Nevertheless, whatever the limits of animal consciousness might be, countless theories have been developed to support the validity of animal intelligence. Physicalist and Neurofunctionalist – philosophical approaches Physicalism postulates that consciousness canbe identified with neuron activity, a position that allows for the possibility that intelligence is a characteristic humans and animals share, so long as they are built upon the same “biological, chemical and physical” properties (Allen, 2010). Such an approach also claims that questions about the relative intelligence of different species becomes “trivial” “once neuroscientists have carried out the non-trivial task of determining the physiological basis of consciousness in animals for which no reasonable doubt of their consciousness can be entertained” (Allen, 2010). Neurofunctionalism considers the existence of neural cortex activity in primates as “the most plausible candidate for being the neural correlate of phenomenal consciousness in these species” (Allen, 2010). In “On a Confusion About a Function of Consciousness,” N. Block associates phenomenal consciousness with brain processes in certain higher-level perceptual representations. “Since the evidence for Name 3 such processes is at least partially derived from animals, including other primates and rats, (Block’s) view is supportive of the that phenomenal consciousness is found in some nonhuman species (presumably most mammals)” (Allen, 2010). Other “first-order” theories take a more direct line, including representationalism, which insists that an animal’s ability to perceive its surroundings equates to conscious awareness. Aristotle and Locke took a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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