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What animals are self aware?

How can you figure out if one is self aware? Are any domestic pets self aware?

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Naina B. | Naina, a versatile tutorNaina, a versatile tutor
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Self awareness in animals
I recommend two books:  the first one Reason for Hope by Jane Goodall and second one is  de Waal, F. B. M., & Ferrari, P. F. (2012). THE PRIMATE MIND: Built to Connect With Other Minds. Cambridge, MA; Harvard University Press.
These books address the animal perception and their self-awareness abilities.
Naina B
Victor C. | Patient & Knowledgeable Native Speaking Spanish TutorPatient & Knowledgeable Native Speaking ...
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Nice. Good question Simone. That kind of question is known as the "The Distribution Question". Because what your trying to explore is, "can we know which animals beside humans are conscious?" It's one that is controversial and STILL arguments on this matter from different perspectives.

Self awareness can be defined as,  "....understanding of one's subjective internal state of mind". It's philosophical in nature. Jeremy is appealing to one of the philosophical theories that falls under arguments against animal consciousness. Under that, one of several sub-arguments known as, "Arguments from the absence of self-consciousness". The "mirror test" by Gordon Gallup (1970) who developed it argues for the "arguments from the absence of self-consciousness."

However, the "mirror test", like all arguments, have an inadequate test due to its limited understanding of the concept of self awareness. Every perspective has its limited understanding. What "....Gallup (1970; 1984) and others have argued that behavior directed towards bodily marks visible only in a mirror may serve as an operational definition of “self-awareness.” According to this definition, Gallup would claim that only humans, chimpanzees, orangutans, and perhaps gorillas may be labeled “self-aware.” But, DeGrazia and others ("arguments for animal consciousness) disagree because the problem with that definition is that it is limiting to one form of test of self awareness because animals are self-aware in one form or another

I. There are different types of self-awareness:

 I don't want to give to much info, so I'll give you at least two types of self awareness among others given by David DeGrazia, Professor and Chair Department of Philosophy at George Washington University, specializing in bioethics and animal rights. He argues that one of the forms that animals display self-awareness is by "Bodily self-awareness" and "Social self-awareness" which human beings have in common too. I encourage you to look further by getting an overview and detail explanations of the arguments for and against animal self awareness from Allen's "Animal Consciousness".



Allen, Colin, "Animal Consciousness", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2011 Edition)Edward N. Zalta (ed.). 28 February 2013


Robert W. Lurz (ed.), The Philosophy of Animal Minds. Cambridge University Press (2009).

Mirror use of Pigeons. Psychology Department. Lafayette College. Web. 28 Feb 2013.




Katherine P. | RN - Tutor for Nursing students in Psych, MH, Anatomy & Test Prep.RN - Tutor for Nursing students in Psych...

Actually the animals that can pass the mirror test are all the great apes (Bonobos, Chimpanzees, Orangutans and Gorillas) also Bottlenose dolphins, Orcas, Elephants and the only non-mammal to pass the test, European Magpies. 


Victor C. - The student wanted to know what animals are self aware. These are animals that have passed the mirror test according to the most recent articles I have read about this test. I don't have the sources in front of me , however I read articles frequently from APA affiliated journals such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Yes, I have read that it is a limited test. My answer is the best I have at the moment.  Yours sounds very scholarly and deals with much more than the student's original question, however your approach should peak the student's interest in the subject and encourage him or her to look at it more critically which is great.

I understand :). I am just asking for the links to the sources so that the students can investigate and read the information. I am sorry that your perception of me comes across that way, however, I wouldn't underestimate a student's ability and it is a very good idea to provide sources. 

Jeremy E. | Patient, effective tutor for Math, Science, and HistoryPatient, effective tutor for Math, Scien...

The most common test for finding out if an animal is self aware is what is known as the mirror test. If an animal is able to identify itself in a mirror, that is a sign that the animal is self aware. Most domestic pets are not self aware. For example: If you were to place a mirror in front of a dog, they would most likely think that there was another dog in the room.