Why Do Some Neuroscientists And Philosophers Believe Fish Are Conscious?

In the movie "Finding Nemo," a clownfish named Marlin loses his son, Nemo, to a scuba diver. In an effort to find him, Marlin and Dory travel across the ocean in search of Sydney Harbor where they believe he was taken. Along their journey they encounter sharks and jellyfish that threaten them with death if not for Dory's quick thinking.


But what if these creatures were conscious? What would it mean for us humans?

In this article we'll explore whether or not fish are conscious by looking at some of the arguments made by neuroscientists who believe that fish have consciousness similar to ours -- even though most people don't think so.


First let's look at why many scientists say no one can know whether or not other animals are conscious because there is no way to directly experience another being's mind [source: Braithwaite]. This idea comes from philosopher Thomas Nagel who said you cannot step into someone else's shoes unless you become them completely (a process called "methodological solipsism").


So when we ask ourselves questions about animal consciousness like do dogs feel pain?, we're really asking ourselves how much our own human experiences resemble theirs -- which isn't necessarily true since our brains may be wired differently than theirs.


But some scientists disagree with this line of reasoning saying it doesn't make sense because all mammals share similar brain structures and nervous systems so therefore all mammals should have similar levels of awareness regardless if they're related or not.


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