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Questions about animal consciousness — in particular, which animals have consciousness and what (if anything) that consciousness might be like — are both scientific and philosophical.
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From this view point, the question “Are (non-human) animals conscious?
” is rather strange, because, for example, it implicitly groups bats together with rabbits (as ‘nonhuman’ animals) in contrast to humans.
Just what sort(s) of science can bear on these questions is a live question, but at the least this will include investigations of the behavior and neurophysiology of a wide taxonomic range of animals, as well as the phylogenetic relationships among taxa.
But these questions are deeply philosophical as well, with epistemological, metaphysical, and phenomenological dimensions.
The explanatory gap is as wide as ever and all the wanting in the world will not take us across it” (Dawkins 2012, pp. Many philosophers and scientists have either argued or assumed that consciousness is inherently private, and hence that one's own experience is unknowable to others.
While language may allow humans to cross this supposed gap by communicating their experience to others, this is allegedly not possible for other animals.
The so-called “cognitive revolution” that took place during the latter half of the 20th century has led to many innovative experiments by comparative psychologists and ethologists probing the cognitive capacities of animals.