In this paper the permissibility of stem cell research on early human embryos is defended. It is argued that, in order to have moral status, an individual must have an interest in its own wellbeing. Sentience is a prerequisite for having an interest in avoiding pain, and personhood is a prerequisite for having an interest in the continuation of one's own existence. Early human embryos are not sentient and therefore they are not recipients of direct moral consideration. Early human (...) embryos do not satisfy the requirements for personhood, but there are arguments to the effect that they should be treated as persons nonetheless. These are the arguments from potentiality, symbolic value and the principle of human dignity. These arguments are challenged in this paper and it is claimed that they offer us no good reason to believe that early human embryos should be treated as persons. (shrink)
Austen Clark offers a general account of the forms of mental representation that we call "sensory." Drawing on the findings of current neuroscience, Clark defends the hypothesis that the various modalities of sensation share a generic form that he calls "feature-placing." Sensing proceeds by picking out place-times in or around the body of the sentient organism, and characterizing qualities (features) that appear at those place-times. The hypothesis casts light on many other troublesome phenomena, including the varieties of illusion, the problem (...) of projection, the notion of a visual field, and the existence of sense-data. (shrink)
Surely one of the most interesting problems in the study of mind concerns the nature of sentience. How is it that there are sensations, rather than merely sensings? What is it like to be a bat -- or why is it like anything at all? Why aren't we automata or responding but unfeeling Zombies? How does neural activity give rise to subjective experience? As Leibniz put the problem (Monadology section 17):
_It must be confessed, however, that Perception_ [consciousness?]_, (...) and that which depends upon it, are_ _inexplicable by mechanical means, that is to say, by figures and motions. Supposing that there were a_ _machine whose structure produced thought, sensation, and perceptions, we could conceive of it as increased_ _in its interior size with the same proportions until one was able to enter into its interior, as he would into a_ _mill. Now, on going into it he would find only pieces working upon one another, but never would he find_
_anything to explain Perception._ [Montgomery trans.]. (shrink)
Environmental philosophers are often concerned to show that non-sentient things, such as plants or ecosystems, have interests and therefore are appropriate objects of moral concern. They deny that mentality is a necessary condition for having interests. Yet they also deny that they are committed to recognizing interests in things like machines. I argue that either machines have interests (and hence moral standing) too or mentality is a necessary condition for inclusion within the purview of morality. I go on to argue (...) that the aspect of mentality necessary for having interests is more complicated than mere sentience. (shrink)
In his book A Theory of Sentience, Austen Clark argues that the content of sensory representations can be expressed as sentences constructed from a language of sentience. Such sentences specify that a determinate feature obtains in a particular space-time region, but the language's limited vocabulary prohibits the sentences from referring or attributing features to objects. In this paper, I show that this view is flawed in at least two ways. First, if sensation has the capacities that Clark and (...) others attribute to it, then the vocabulary of sense extends further than he supposes, and a limited language of sentience cannot justify a prohibition of object representation within sentience. Second, even if the language of sentience is as impoverished as he claims, and thus even if the representational capacity of sentience is correspondingly limited, object individuation can plausibly occur at the level of sensation. In the course of defusing Clark's major argument for an “object-less” theory of sentience, I offer reasons to believe both that sensory representations can be impressively sophisticated in what they say about the world, and that object representations can be surprisingly basic. (shrink)
This article deals with the concept of sentience, and more specifically with the argument from sentience as it is used by utilitarians in the abortion debate and in the advocacy of animal rights. It is argued that sentience is more than feeling pleasure and pain (with empha sis on pain), and that pain is an inborn protection required to fit into the world rather than the substance of evil. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.23(3) 2004: 292-301.
First, what it is for a sentient being to sense is for it to employ two distinct capacities: one for representing places-at-times; the other for representing "features" (60, cf. 70). Exercised together, the result is akin to feature-placing, which brings us to the second thesis: what sensory systems represent is that features are instantiated at place-times. Accordingly, sensory systems do not, for instance, attribute properties to objects, such as trees, tables, bodies, or persons (163).
D. Alan Shewmon has advanced a well-documented challenge to the widely accepted total brain death criterion for death of the human being. We show that Shewmon's argument against this criterion is unsound, though he does refute the standard argument for that criterion. We advance a distinct argument for the total brain death criterion and answer likely objections. Since human beings are rational animals – sentient organisms of a specific type – the loss of the radical capacity for sentience (the (...) capacity to sense or to develop the capacity to sense) involves a substantial change, the passing away of the human organism. In human beings total brain death involves the complete loss of the radical capacity for sentience, and so in human beings total brain death is death. (shrink)
The aim of this review is to assess the ethical implications of finfish aquaculture, regarding fish welfare and environmental aspects. The finfish aquaculture industry has grown substantially the last decades, both as a result of the over-fishing of wild fish populations, and because of the increasing consumer demand for fish meat. As the industry is growing, a significant amount of research on the subject is being conducted, monitoring the effects of aquaculture on the environment and on animal welfare. The areas (...) of concern when it comes to animal welfare have here been divided into four different stages: breeding period; growth period; capturing and handling; and slaughter. Besides these stages, this report includes a chapter on the current evidence of fish sentience, since this issue is still being debated among biologists. However, most biologists are at present acknowledging the probability of fish being sentient creatures. Current aquaculture practices are affecting fish welfare during all four of the cited stages, both on physical and mental levels, as well as on the ability of fish to carry out natural behaviors. The effect fish farming has on the environment is here separated into five different categories: the decline of wild fish populations; waste and chemical discharge; loss of habitat; spreading of diseases; and invasion of exotic organisms. There is evidence of severe negative effects on the environment when looking at these five categories, even when considering the difficulty of studying environmental effects, due to the closely interacting variables. The ethical arguments and scientific evidences here reviewed have not all come to the same conclusions. Nevertheless, the general agreement is that current aquaculture practices are neither meeting the needs of fish nor environment. Thus, the obvious environmental and animal welfare aspects of finfish aquaculture make it hard to ethically defend a fish diet. (shrink)
This is exciting medical researchers because it means that, at least in theory, the cells from an early embryo could eliminate the need for organ transplants entirely, cure leukaemia, enable people with diabetes to manufacture insulin, treat Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, and repair the nerve systems of quadriplegics. Though these prospects are still far from realisation, results achieved by Oliver Brustle at the University of Bonn Medical Centre have brought them a step closer. In an article published in Science on (...) July 30, Brustle reported that he was able to repair the damaged nervous systems of rats using cells taken from embryos. (shrink)
CONTEMPORARY MATERIALIST theories of mind, viz. Causal Correspondence and Identity, are usually contrasted with several alleged historical competitors: Parallelism; Epiphenomenalism; Dual-aspect; and Emergence. What I shall here attempt to argue is that this last-mentioned theory, Emergence, is no competitor at all, but rather is a natural supplement to a materialist theory. I shall try to argue that there is a good case for saying that if, in particular, sensation-states are caused by or are identical to brain-states, then they are caused (...) by or are identical to emergent brain-states. (shrink)
When a human embryo consists of not more than 64 cells, its cells are, like a young dog, able to learn new tricks. If injected into a diseased kidney, they take on many of the properties of ordinary kidney cells, and may help the kidney to perform its normal function. This seems to hold for any organ, even any kind of cell.
1. Clark’s book is a detailed study of the nature of sensory representation. It is highly informed by empirical results in the psychology of perception, and philosophically rich and significant. I admire the book and learned a great deal from reading it. As it covers a wide range of topics, and as I have no overarching critique to present, in this commentary I will briefly address three issues that come up in the book: Clark’s relational type-identity thesis for sensory qualities, (...) his theory that sensory representations involve proto-singular terms referring to spatio-temporal regions in the subject’s environment, and his interesting proposal concerning color to treat it as “difference coding”. Some of my remarks will be critical, but others will just explore some of the implications of his view. 2. Clark distinguishes “phenomenal properties” from “qualitative properties”, the former being appearance properties of things in the world (their colors, shapes, tastes, odors, etc.) and the latter being the properties of sensations by virtue of which they are sensations of their corresponding phenomenal properties. So when I see a red ball I am “directly” aware of the ball’s redness and roundness - it appears red and round to me. This awareness of the ball’s redness and roundness is accomplished, however, by my having a visual experience with certain qualitative properties; those that are of the sort one has when seeing something as red and round. It is these latter qualitative properties that are the subject of his relational type-identity thesis. Before addressing that thesis, however, I want to quickly note and respond to another point Clark makes concerning the qualitative properties of sensory states. He.. (shrink)
D. Alan Shewmon has advanced a well-documented challenge to the widely accepted total brain death criterion for death of the human being. We show that Shewmon's argument against this criterion is unsound, though he does refute the standard argument for that criterion. We advance a distinct argument for the total brain death criterion and answer likely objections. Since human beings are rational animals - sentient organisms of a specific type - the loss of the radical capacity for sentience (the (...) capacity to sense or to develop the capacity to sense) involves a substantial change, the passing away of the human organism. In human beings total brain death involves the complete loss of the radical capacity for sentience, and so in human beings total brain death is death. (shrink)
Original value -- Value incrementalism -- A normative proposal -- Valuing development -- The many faces of value -- Direct and indirect moral considerability -- Affirming moral theories -- Ethical vegetarianism? -- The possibility of an environmental ethic -- Racism and moral perfectionism -- The bankruptcy of moral relativism.
can be adapted and adopted by developing countries. IFC sees this as being an area where we may be able to benchmark and promote positive change. ● The force of global trade initiatives also influences animal welfare.