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Assessing unlimited associative learning as a transition marker

Irvine, Elizabeth ORCID: 2021. Assessing unlimited associative learning as a transition marker. Biology and Philosophy 36 , 21. 10.1007/s10539-021-09796-0

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The target paper (building on Ginsburg and Jablonka in JTB 381:55–60, 2015, The evolution of the sensitive soul: Learning and the origins of consciousness, MIT Press, USA, 2019) makes a significant and novel claim: that positive cases of non-human consciousness can be identified via the capacity of unlimited associative learning (UAL). In turn, this claim is generated by a novel methodology, which is that of identifying an evolutionary ‘transition marker’, which is claimed to have theoretical and empirical advantages over other approaches. In this commentary I argue that UAL does not function as a successful transition marker (as defined by the authors), and has internal problems of its own. However, I conclude that it is still a very productive anchor for new research on the evolution of consciousness.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Additional Information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Publisher: Springer Verlag (Germany)
ISSN: 0169-3867
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 March 2021
Date of Acceptance: 8 March 2021
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2022 10:34

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