A Painfully Fishy Tale of Consciousness

Posted 23 Jun 2003 at 22:27 UTC by steve Share This

What is consciousness and who has it? Most people agree that humans and other higher mammals like monkeys have it. But is a fish conscious? Fish avoid pain. Does pain aversion in a fish (or a robot) imply they feel pain and, therefore, have consciousness? Dr. James D. Rose of University of Wyoming says "does not" (PDF format) but Dr. Lynne U. Sneddon says "does so". The two recently published and conflicting accounts of consciousness in fish are compared in this amusing article written by an angler and amateur philosopher.

does not!, posted 23 Jun 2003 at 22:44 UTC by steve » (Master)

Dr. Rose has now replied with more emphatic "does not!" (PDF format).

And how much did this cost the taxpayer.....?, posted 24 Jun 2003 at 18:15 UTC by earlwb » (Master)

How much did this cost the taxpayer? I rank this up there with the guys who got many thousands of dollars to determine ketchup flowrates of different brands.

I feel that all animals will have a instinctive trait to move away from negative stimuli as a basic survival trait. It's all part of evolution. The real question is whether this happens in lower life forms like ameoba or bacteria. Put in a couple of electric probes and fire up a field, into a petri dish with a bacteria culture and observe how they tend to move out of the electric field's range, leaving a hole. Is that a response to negative stimuli or not? No nervous system involved at all there.

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