Reber, Arthur S; Baluska, Frantisek; and Miller, William B, Jr. (2022) All living organisms are sentient. Animal Sentience 31(3)
Andrew N. Rowan, Joyce M. D'Silva, Ian J.H. Duncan, and Nicholas Palmer, Animal sentience: history, science, and politics
We argue that all living organisms, from the simplest unicellular prokaryotes to Homo sapiens, have valenced experiences—feelings as states of preference—and are capable of cognitive representations. Bacteria can learn, form stable memories, and communicate, hence solve problems. Rowan et al.'s statement that "Subjective feelings are just that — subjective — and are available only to the animal (or human) experiencing them" is true but irrelevant. When we see a fish flopping about in the bottom of a boat we immediately recognize suffering without having a glimpse of the nature of piscine distress. Some controlled anthropomorphism can go a long way without stumbling into the philosophical "first person" problem. Incumbent on a species with such gifts are countervailing responsibilities.
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