Animal Sentience

Commentary Type

Open Commentary


Colin Klein and Andrew B. Barron, Insects have the capacity for subjective experience


In arguing that insect brains are capable of sentience, Klein & Barron rely heavily on Bjorn Merker’s claim that activity in the human mid-brain is sufficient for conscious experience. I criticize Merker’s claim by pointing out that the behaviors supported by midbrain activity are much more primitive than the ones that appear to depend on consciousness. I raise a similar objection to Klein & Barron’s contention that insect behaviors are similar to behaviors that manifest consciousness in human beings. The similarity is weak. I also respond to the related view that integrative activity in mid-brain structures is sufficient to explain the sensory integration that characterizes human perceptual experience. There is good reason to think that the cortex makes additional contributions to experiential integration.

Author Biography

Chris Hill works on problems in epistemology, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind. http://bit.ly/ChristopherHillphilo