Can a Robot, an Insect, or God Be Aware?; December 2008/January 2009; Scientific American Mind; by Joshua Knobe; 4 Page(s)
Can a lobster ever truly have any emotions? What about a beetle? Or a sophisticated computer?
The only way to resolve these questions
conclusively would be to engage in serious
scientific inquiry¿but even before studying the literature, many people have pretty clear intuitions about what the answers are going to be. A person might just look at a computer
and feel certain that it could not possibly be feeling pleasure, pain or anything at all. That is why we do not mind throwing a broken computer in the trash. Likewise, someone putting a lobster in a pot of boiling water does
not worry too much about the crustacean feeling angst about its impending doom. In the jargon of philosophy,these intuitions we have about whether a creature or thing is capable of feelings or subjective experiences are called "intuitions about phenomenal consciousness."