Instigator / Pro
0
1500
rating
2
debates
0.0%
won
Topic
#5258

A creature can only suffer if it is self aware.

Status
Finished

The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

Winner & statistics
Winner
0
2

After 2 votes and with 2 points ahead, the winner is...

Hero_In_Instatute
Parameters
Publication date
Last updated date
Type
Standard
Number of rounds
4
Time for argument
Two days
Max argument characters
3,000
Voting period
One month
Point system
Winner selection
Voting system
Open
Contender / Con
2
1484
rating
6
debates
25.0%
won
Description

By accepting this debate, you accept these definitions.

Suffering: 'The bearing or undergoing of pain and distress.' (oxford dictionary)

Self awareness: 'Conscious knowledge of one's own character, thoughts, emotions, etc.' (oxford dictionary)

Round 1
Pro
#1
My reasoning for why a creature can only suffer if it is self-aware:

If an organism is not aware of its own self, then it cannot be aware of any harm done unto itself. And if an organism is not aware of any harm done unto itself, then it cannot be in pain.

You may say that pain can exist without the realization of pain, but pain is a biological signal, and it means nothing if your brain does not receive that signal.

If you send me a letter, and I don't receive it, then it doesn't matter if you sent me the letter or not, because I was never able to read the letter.

Con
#2
since pro's definition of suffering just means feeling pain and anxiety, then i would say that awareness is irrelevant and not a requirement to feel pain

if a person in a coma gets pinched, the part of the brain that detects pain or nerve signals still functions, so the body still feels pain.

therefore the person is still hurting and it doesnt matter if they know it or not. a coma patient can also feel nervous if certain parts of their body are stimulated by artificially triggered stress caused by machines for experimentation.

Round 2
Pro
#3
The source you gave me says absolutely nothing about "artificially triggered stress" in coma patients, so I don't know why you brought that up.
The source you gave me does give some insightful information on pain in coma patients, so I will be going off of that.

So, if I understand correctly, your argument hinges on 2 main points:
  • By the definition I gave, self-awareness requires consciousness, and people in a coma are unconscious, and therefore not self-aware.
  • And yet coma patients can still feel pain, because the 'pain matrix' continues to show signs of activity during a coma. 
I think that your argument is totally ignorant to the fact that the brain is one, and it functions as a whole.
You ≠ the part of your brain associated with the processing of pain.
You = all of your mind in its entirety.
You cannot feel pain if only part of your mind is aware of that pain.

But that is not what I have an issue with.

The question of this debate is whether a creature can only suffer if it is self-aware.
You are comparing a self-aware creature in a state of unconscious to a creature without any self-awareness at all.
The example you gave me was completely bogus, simply because an unconscious person is completely incomparable to a brainless earthworm.

Thank you for accepting this debate. 
Con
#4
doctors can manufacture a headache in a coma patient if they give them nitroglycerin, this is what i mean by "artificially-triggered."
the coma patient's pain receptors are still working, even if the coma patient is not conscious to feel it. so they are feeling pain even though they aren't aware of it

now as for pain and anxiety, if you pinch a person while they are asleep, the pain will cause them to react with a reflex or make them yell even if they don't wake up. So even if they are dreaming, they still feel the pain even if they don't know they are in pain. so they are still suffering by definition

people sometimes have anxiety attacks in their sleep that catch them off-guard and it can wake them up depending on the intensity. while the person goes through an panic attack while asleep, the person isn't conscious enough to "know" that they are scared, but their body is still in a fight-or-flight state.


my example of a coma patient proves they can feel pain even in the absence of sentience, which falls under the category of suffering.

Round 3
Pro
#5
First off, please site your sources.
You told me that "doctors can manufacture a headache in a coma patient if they give them nitroglycerin."
But neither of the two sources you gave me said anything about that, and I read both of them 3 times over!
I still could have missed something, so next time please quote the article.

Moving on.

You did nothing to refute my two counterpoints, you simply restated your argument again, albeit with more detail. 
I admit that I wrote my counterpoints in a confusing manner, so let me reiterate:

My first counter to your argument:
Every part of the brain is involved in the processing of pain. (link)
A coma patient only processes pain in part of their brain, which is different from how you and I process pain.
So how can you call a coma patients experience of pain 'pain' if it is completely different from your understanding of pain.

My second counter to your argument:
Why are humans considered self-aware?
Because humans possess the ability to be self-aware, even though humans are not always in a conscious state.
Because of this, a human in a coma still constitutes as a self-aware creature (because a human in a coma is still a human).
Thus, your example of an unconscious human is not a valid example.

As for the article you gave on nocturnal panic attacks, it is important to note that people who are sleeping are still conscious in some capacity.
A person who is dreaming can be self-aware, so sleep does not prove anything.

Con
#6
Self awareness: 'Conscious knowledge of one's own character, thoughts, emotions, etc.' (oxford dictionary)
conscious is defined by oxford dictionary as

Conscious: Aware of and responding to one's surroundings; awake.
so my next line of argumentation is a person's capacity for awareness is significantly reduced in a sleep-like state. and while sleeping, they are not conscious, so any form of knowledge/awareness (as mitigated as it may be) is not conscious knowledge.
so it is suffering without self-awareness

Suffering: 'The bearing or undergoing of pain and distress.' (oxford dictionary)

  • if a sleeping person is suddenly strangled but they do not wake up, their body will still be responsive and fight back on instinct. the adrenaline stops them from noticing the pain and they don't know the source, but the anxiety still means they are suffering

pro concedes my argument that coma patients are capable of feeling pain which constitutes suffering in the absence of self-awareness. their version of pain may not be the same as ours, but that's irrelevant, as it still falls in the category of suffering.

Pro: First off, please site your sources.
You told me that "doctors can manufacture a headache in a coma patient if they give them nitroglycerin."
But neither of the two sources you gave me said anything about that, and I read both of them 3 times over!
I still could have missed something, so next time please quote the article.
it was a hypothetical.
doctors are not allowed to do this because they would lose their medical license. i borrowed this example from an episode of House.
Round 4
Pro
#7
My opponent's 2 examples used to disprove my claim were:
  • A person in a coma.
  • A person who is sleeping.
My point still stands.

A pigeon can fly, so a pigeon constitutes as a flying creature, even when that pigeon is not in flight.
A human is self-aware when awake, so a human constitutes as a self-aware creature, even when that human is not awake.
Your job is to give me an example of a creature that cannot be considered self-aware, aka not a sleeping human.

As for the response you gave about consciousness, I think that your argument hinges on a technicality.
If you have ever had a dream, you will know that you can still be self-aware while sleeping, even though you are not technically conscious.

Con
#8
voters will recall that i gave two examples where a self-aware creature would cease to be self-aware, but still capable of suffering.
  1. a coma patient
  2. someone who is sleeping

both of these examples have been dropped by pro and remain uncontested

while someone who is sleeping can sometimes be aware, they can also be unaware. and in the instances where they are unaware, they can still experience pain or distress which is literally the definition of suffering without self-awareness.

vote con