Brilliantly written article about the history of the scientific consensus around animal consciousness: Being a sandpiper
Just as humans shared physical traits with other creatures, Darwin argued, so we also shared mental traits. The ability to think and feel was just another adaptation to life’s uncertainties and hazards, and, given our evolutionary relatedness to all other living things, it made no sense for them to be unique to us. [...]
By emphasising the kinship between animals and human beings, Darwinian taxonomy could have opened the door to thinking about the consciousness of individual animals. But, instead, the opposite happened.
Has our obsession with classification got in the way of us seeing individual animals as distinct individuals? Is zoological orthodoxy a little too reticent to anthropomorphise and what benefits could there be from hypothesising about it more freely?
There is also some excellent supplementary debate in the comments. Well worth a read.