By Paul Woodward
To ask whether animals have consciousness is often turned into a question about if and how they think.
That creatures as small as a fruit fly do indeed exhibit evidence of sophisticated cognitive processes is intriguing, but the question that engages philosophers and scientists less than what the brains of other creatures compute is the seemingly imponderable question of what they feel.
The experience of feeling — whether it is ones own feelings or the feelings of others — is the preeminent concern of humans in general when it comes to the question of consciousness.
Consider this imaginary scenario: You are about to undergo surgery and the anesthesiologist tells you that with newly approved drugs it is no longer necessary to be fully anesthetized and you have a choice of drugs.
One drug blocks feelings. Your body will become numb. You will feel neither pain…
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