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St Cross Seminar: The moral insignificance of self-consciousness

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Duration: 0:39:12 | Added: 10 Jun 2015
In this talk, Dr Josh Shepherd examines the claim that self-consciousness is highly morally significant.

Many share an intuition that self-consciousness is highly morally significant. Some hold that self-consciousness significantly enhances an entity’s moral status. Others hold that self-consciousness underwrites the attribution of so-called personhood (or full moral status) to self-conscious entities. I examine the claim that self-consciousness is highly morally significant, such that the fact that an entity is self-conscious generates strong moral reasons to treat that entity in certain ways (reasons that, for example, make killing such entities a very serious matter). I analyse four arguments in support of such a claim, and find all four wanting. We lack good reasons to think self-consciousness is highly morally significant.

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