, Volume 121, Issue 2, pp 99-125

Suffering without subjectivity

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Abstract

This paper argues that it is possible for suffering to occur in the absence of phenomenal consciousness – in the absence of a certain sort of experiential subjectivity, that is. (‘‘Phenomenal’’ consciousness is the property that some mental states possess, when it is like something to undergo them, or when they have subjective feels, or possess qualia.) So even if theories of phenomenal consciousness that would withhold such consciousness from most species of non-human animal are correct, this needn’t mean that those animals don’t suffer, and aren’t appropriate objects of sympathy and concern.