There have been vigorous arguments among biologists about whether complicated goal directed behavior among high mammals is reliable evidence for their consciousness. Indeed the admission of consciousness into animal research is quite a recent phenomenon. Injury-avoidance behavior is often based on reflexes, and it is not completely obvious that the inner sensation of pain must be attached to it. Even in our own case pain is often felt only after the limb has been moved away.

Here, what does it refer to? consciousness or reflexes? So difficult to me

  • Please cite your source. Which book or article are you quoting from?
    – James K
    Jul 23, 2020 at 0:31

1 Answer 1


I think it refers to "Injury-avoidance behavior".

Although I do feel that the paragraph is not that clear. The beginning sentence has some grammatical mistakes (IMO?): "There have vigorous arguments" probably should be "There have been vigorous arguments" or "There are vigorous arguments"

  • I corrected the wrong expression Jul 23, 2020 at 23:47
  • 1
    Thanks. I think the meaning of "it" really depends on the content of the paragraph and it's not a grammatical issue IMO. "It" can, in theory, refers to many of these objects in the paragraph and how you interpret it really depends on the context. My best guess would be "Injury-avoidance behavior". To some extent, IMO, it's the author's fault if it is not obvious.
    – user161596
    Jul 23, 2020 at 23:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .