Ethics Without Sentience: Facing Up to the Probable Insignificance of Phenomenal Consciousness

Journal of Consciousness Studies 29 (3-4):180-204 (2022)
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Abstract

Phenomenal consciousness appears to be particularly normatively significant. For this reason, sentience-based conceptions of ethics are widespread. In the field of animal ethics, knowing which animals are sentient appears to be essential to decide the moral status of these animals. I argue that, given that materialism is true of the mind, phenomenal consciousness is probably not particularly normatively significant. We should face up to this probable insignificance of phenomenal consciousness and move towards an ethic without sentience.

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François Kammerer
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

Citations of this work

Preserving the Normative Significance of Sentience.Leonard Dung - 2024 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 31 (1):8-30.
Understanding Artificial Agency.Leonard Dung - forthcoming - Philosophical Quarterly.
How to deal with risks of AI suffering.Leonard Dung - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

What is it like to be a bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.
Practical Ethics.Peter Singer - 1979 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Susan J. Armstrong & Richard George Botzler.
Epiphenomenal qualia.Frank Jackson - 1982 - Philosophical Quarterly 32 (April):127-136.
Thinking About Consciousness.David Papineau - 2002 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.

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