Suffering without subjectivity

Document Type: 
Article
Article Type: 
Theoretical
Disciplines: 
Philosophy
Topics: 
Neuroethics
Keywords: 
animal suffering, phenomenal consciousness, sympathy, higher-order theory
Deposited by: 
Dr Peter Carruthers
Date of Issue: 
2004
Authors: 
Peter Carruthers
Journal/Publication Title: 
Philosophical Studies
Volume: 
121
Page Range: 
99-125
Abstract: 
This paper argues that it is possible for suffering to occur in the absence of phenomenal consciousness - in the absence of a certain sort of experiential subjectivity, that is. (‘Phenomenal’ consciousness is the property that some mental states possess, when it is like something to undergo them, or when they have subjective feels, or possess qualia.) So even if theories of phenomenal consciousness that would withhold such consciousness from most species of non-human animal are correct, this needn’t mean that those animals don’t suffer, and aren’t appropriate objects of sympathy and concern.
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