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Peter Carruthers

Apr 14, 2020

Human and Animal Minds

The Consciousness Questions Laid to Rest

Oxford University Press 2019

Do nonhuman animals have phenomenally conscious mental states? For example, do they have the types of conscious experiences we have when, in our case, we experience the smell of cinnamon or the redness of a ripe tomato? In Human and Animal Minds: The Consciousness Questions Laid to Rest (Oxford University Press, 2019), Peter Carruthers argues that there is no fact of the matter as to whether they do or not. On Carruthers’ view, nonhuman animals have those types of consciousness identified as being awake and being aware. Moreover, he agrees the mental lives of humans and nonhumans share quite a lot based in recent empirical research, and he adopts a reductive theory of phenomenal consciousness that identifies it with globally broadcast nonconceptual content. What is indeterminate is whether nonhumans have the all-or-nothing what-it’s-like quality that our first-personal concept of phenomenal consciousness appears to pick out. Nevertheless, Carruthers – who is Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maryland College Park – argues that this indeterminacy really doesn’t matter much – in particular, it does not follow that we should not be concerned about animal welfare.

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