Is consciousness a useful scientific term? Problems of "animal consciousness"

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Application of the normal procedures of scientific hypothesis testing to the question of animal consciousness is flawed, since it presupposes that consciousness land more especially, its lack) can be reliably identified. Cognitive psychology has made little explanatory use of the concept of consciousness, and comparative psychology has no safe means of pursuing its evolution. It is proposed that the vexed issue of consciousness in animals Is not linked to their welfare, which should instead be decided by objective ethoiogical evidence, backed by firm presumptions of "conscious until proven otherwise".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-411
JournalVlaams Diergeneeskundig Tijdschrift
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2000


  • null hypothesis
  • animal welfare
  • pain
  • suffering
  • evolution


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