When Do We Become Truly Conscious? (September 20 2012) When Do We Become Truly Conscious? (September 20 2012)

Daniel Bor the British cognitive neuroscientist believes the new science of consciousness should change how we think about thorny ethical dilemmas, has published an article on Slate titled ‘When Do We Become Truly Conscious?’ Bor states “The investigation of our own awareness is a blossoming scientific field, where experiments are illuminating exciting details about this most intimate of scientific subjects. In my book The Ravenous Brain, I describe the latest consciousness science and how we are closing in on establishing a consciousness meter—a way to measure levels of awareness in any being that may be able to experience the world. Consciousness is in many ways the most important question remaining for science. But the nature of consciousness is not just a vital question for science; it’s also the source of some of society’s thorniest, most fundamental ethical dilemmas. …questions about consciousness lie at the heart of many of our most fundamental ethical debates, one of which is abortion and the right to life. …If science could come up with some means of testing for the presence of consciousness in other animals and perhaps also a way of gauging the extent of consciousness when it’s found, this would have a huge impact on all ethical spheres of the animal rights debate. …Consciousness research informs other political issues as well. For instance, how can we assess the level of consciousness remaining in someone who has suffered severe brain damage and is in a vegetative state? At what point should we let such patients die? And it is possible that in the decades to come, we might also need to start thinking about how we assess artificial forms of consciousness and what rights we consequently need to bestow on such beings.”


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