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September 25 2012

Animals are conscious and should be treated as such


ARE animals conscious? This question has a long and venerable history. Charles Darwin asked it when pondering the evolution of consciousness. His ideas about evolutionary continuity - that differences between species are differences in degree rather than kind - lead to a firm conclusion that if we have something, "they" (other animals) have it too.

In July of this year, the question was discussed in detail by a group of scientists gathered at the University of Cambridge for the first annual Francis Crick Memorial Conference. Crick, co-discoverer of DNA, spent the latter part of his career studying consciousness and in 1994 published a book about it, The Astonishing Hypothesis: The scientific search for the soul.

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