Daniel Issing has an interesting article at Quillette on the hard problems of vegetarianism. Vegetarianism, and its more pure form, veganism, are often seen as the obvious moral thing we should all be doing, but that most of us aren't. Issing, himself a vegetarian, explores the messy details that make this a more complicated proposition … Continue reading The scope of animal wellbeing
Last week, Science Magazine published an interesting study on bird consciousness: A neural correlate of sensory consciousness in a corvid bird. The study conducted an experiment where crows were trained to respond to a sensory stimulus. The stimulus itself could be at the threshold of perceptibility, above that threshold, or missing. After the stimulus (or … Continue reading The consciousness of crows
An interesting paper came up in my Twitter feed. Neuroscientist Paul Cisek notes that many of our current models on how the mind works come from dualistic traditions, as well as psychological ones that were heavily influenced by dualism. He sees the concept of cognition having largely been created after dualism was abandoned. It made … Continue reading Time to dump the concept of cognition?
Recently I visited one of my cousins and, as is tradition for a lot of people this time of year, we had a crawfish boil. Eating boiled crawfish (crayfish for you non-Cajuns) is an ever present activity in southern Louisiana, at least when they're in season, and I've had my share over the years. Although … Continue reading Do boiling crawfish suffer?
In the last consciousness post, which discussed issues with panpsychism and simple definitions of consciousness, I laid out five functional layers of cognition which I find helpful when trying to think about systems that are more or less conscious. Just to recap, those layers are: Reflexes, primal reactions to stimuli. Perception, sensory models of the … Continue reading Layers of self awareness and animal cognition
I've written before about panpyschism, the outlook that everything is conscious and that consciousness permeates the universe. However, that previous post was within the context of replying to a TEDx talk, and I'm not entirely satisfied with the remarks I made back then, so this is a revisit of that topic. I've noted many times … Continue reading Panpsychism and layers of consciousness
Peter Hankins at Conscious Entities has a post looking at the morality of consciousness, which is a commentary on piece at Nautilus by Jim Davies on the same topic. I recommend reading both posts in their entirety, but the overall gist is that which animals or systems are conscious has moral implications, since only conscious … Continue reading The system components of pain
I found this study interesting: Do flies have fear (or something like it)? -- ScienceDaily. A fruit fly starts buzzing around food at a picnic, so you wave your hand over the insect and shoo it away. But when the insect flees the scene, is it doing so because it is actually afraid? Using fruit flies … Continue reading Fruit fly fear and AI sentience
I've read in several places that language is the last uniquely human characteristic. Well, it turns out chimps communicate with a language of gestures: Researchers Translate the Meaning of Over 60 Gestures Used by Chimps. In the first systematic study of a non-human primate language, scientists from St. Andrew's University have deciphered the meaning of 66 wild … Continue reading Chimpanzees have language
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