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Consciousness in non-human animals: adopting the precautionary principle

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The existence of consciousness in animals may have been overlooked. Continuity in consciousness between humans and animals is predicted by evolutionary theory. However, there are specific methodological difficulties associated with investigating such a phenomenon: (1) it cannot be directly measured; (2) animals, unlike humans, cannot directly tell us about their conscious experience; (3) experiments which have made comparisons to human consciousness cannot detect consciousness of a different form; (4) application of the law of parsimony in science has traditionally led to the conclusion that it does not exist.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Animal Welfare and Human-Animal Interactions Group, Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 OES, U.K.

Publication date: January 1, 1998

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