Assessing tests of animal consciousness

Consciousness and Cognition 105 (C):103410 (2022)
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Which animals have conscious experiences? Many different, diverse and unrelated behaviors and cognitive capacities have been proposed as tests of the presence of consciousness in an animal. It is unclear which of these tests, if any, are valid. To remedy this problem, I develop a list consisting of eight desiderata which can be used to assess putative tests of animal consciousness. These desiderata are based either on detailed analogies between consciousness-linked human behavior and non-human behavior, on theories of consciousness or on methods from human consciousness science. If a test or set of tests satisfies more of these desiderata, passing it provides stronger evidence of consciousness. Moreover, one can design future tests of animal consciousness with the intention of satisfying these desiderata to ensure their evidential strength.

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Leonard Dung
Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg


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