Sunday, September 9, 2012

Consciousness science and ethics: Abortion, animal rights, and vegetative-state debates. - Slate Magazine

Consciousness science and ethics: Abortion, animal rights, and vegetative-state debates. - Slate Magazine:
The most prominent scientific theories of consciousness are converging on the idea that it is related to a certain kind of information processing, in which multiple strands of data are drawn together, and that it is dependent on a certain kind of network architecture. Arguably the most popular theory along these lines, information integration theory by Giulio Tononi, effectively assumes that consciousness is a continuum across the animal kingdom. If so, even the lowly nematode worm, with a few hundred neurons, will have some, albeit minimal, level of consciousness. If something approximating this theory proves correct, it has huge implications for our relationship to all animals on the planet.