An international group of experts on cognitive science has asserted that animals, including many that are much different from humans, experience the same degree of consciousness as humans. Per the article:
An international group of prominent scientists has signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in which they are proclaiming their support for the idea that animals are conscious and aware to the degree that humans are ....What's also very interesting about the declaration is the group's acknowledgement that consciousness can emerge in those animals that are very much unlike humans.... "Consequently, say the signatories, the scientific evidence is increasingly indicating that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness....The declaration was signed in the presence of Stephen Hawking .... (bold added).
I'm an animal lover too. Notwithstanding, it has been my experience that even insects run or, otherwise, take evasive action like all get out when something is trying to kill them. This is pretty strong evidence to me that they have a sense of self.
yes, even the smallest beings try to avoid a deathtrap. And almost every living thing lives at the expense of another. The best thing I can do is use other beings very sparingly and refuse to eat anything from the bio-industry or from productionlines that have a strong impact on the environment. But that is my choice, not an advice.
That's not consciousness. That's simple behavioral programming.
Insects will often (not always ... male praying mantises, anyone?) attempt to avoid a deathtrap, because ancestral insects that didn't do so didn't survive. Evolution can do a great deal of neural programming without giving an animal a sense of self. You two are seriously undervaluing the power of evolutionary guidance in determining an animal's behavior.
Check this out:
And why Joseph do you think of yourself as any more than behaviorally programmed? The same as insects but with a much greater amount of complexity.
I am behaviorally programmed ... just for complex thought, sense of self, and introspection. There is an increase of a few dozen magnitudes in that complexity, which you brush off with such a simple adjective, though.
"Greater," indeed. Barring a few complete failures of embryology, the most stupid human is a marvel of neural processing, compared to any insect.
And that's what eventually builds in the sense of self and the greater ability for introspection and thought. We're talking about an exponential increase in processing power. It's the difference between an LED blinking on and off and a PlayStation 3. Literally, we're talking about that kind of difference, just in terms of brute force processing.
Except it's more than that, with neurons. The inter-connectivity within our brains makes it greater than the mere numerical increase. And that numerical increase alone is ridiculous. Insects have about a couple hundred thousand neurons. Humans have about 80 billion to 120 billion neurons.
Take that potentially million-fold increase in processing, and then multiply it by the qualitative increase in brain design. You're just being silly.
Per your response:
Chickens are stupid and seem to be little more than a vaguely complex series of responses to stimuli. Chickens aren't high enough on the scale for me to give a damn. The most you can say for them is that they use a similar set of tools, but that doesn't necessarily lead to a comparable end result.
Per the article:
....a list of animals that includes all mammals, birds, and even the octopus....(Bold added.)
Yes, some (bold added) birds are quite intelligent and potential candidates for consciousness.
A few octopus species are what I was thinking of when I mentioned mollusks, yes.
- Chickens are stupid and seem to be little more than a vaguely complex series of responses to stimuli.
Sorta like ... evangelatin' tea-baggies?
Nah, Tea-baggers don't have as complex a set of responses to external stimuli.
I kind of agree...but complex enough that they will run to the Federal government for aid when something happens to them. I think it's called "selective libertarianism".
I think that the conscience in humans that gives us morality, empathy and compassion has been naturally selected for due to it's advantage for our group survival. If we extend that social conscience to animals, then this begins to effect our food choices. But is it reasonable to extend an evolutionary adaption that has been selected for because of the survival of the group to our potential food sources?
Obviously evolution is not a designer - and so we will continue to adapt and evolve to our environment. And over time those that become vegetarian and vegan may split from those who continue with eating meat and animal products - in fact one may have a greater capacity to survive in the environmental circumstances and be the more evolutionary fitter group.
That's part of the problem. Eating meat was very advantageous, speaking from an evolutionary perspective. No meat would have meant no big brains. Eating massive amounts of meat has only become a problem in the last hundred years or so, because of the increased availability and our currently increasingly sedentary lifestyle.
Hard to tell how things would turn out with the two populations, as you say. The acquisition of knowledge is a game-changer, and the usually lower energy consumption of vegetarian species is no longer applicable to us.
I only eat meat about once or twice a week, myself. Although the huge batch of chicken and lentil curry that I made is going to increase my consumption for the next few days.
I think the extension of our moral kinship to every animal on the planet is a bit of a perversion. We evolved extreme in-group/out-group instincts. I'm fine with extending my in-group to the whole of the human species, plus a few other species that we either find useful or find to have sufficiently human-like characteristics. Dolphins come to mind, with that last point.