The paper explores in some detail whether dolphins possess a sense of both ‘ownership’ and ‘agency’. The first refers to ‘self’ as the dolphin’s own body and can be further divided into ‘self’ as subject and ‘self’ as object. This gives rise to ‘self-awareness’. Agency is the sense that the dolphin has of being able to cause things to happen. Along the way, the author considers a range of closely associated questions such as: what is consciousness; do animals possess consciousness; are mirror neurons involved and, if so, how; what is the relevance of the mirror self-recognition test? The author makes a strong case that dolphins possess consciousness, as defined. The paper is an important contribution to the consciousness debate, not least because it adds much-needed perspective to what is often a topic considered purely in the here and now, as distinct from its evolutionary roots.

Link to paper: