mwildenauer That's fair and you'll have to forgive me, too, because I can't seem to figure out when/whether I directly said that it was (although I may have implied it!) … I guess you're right. We do find it difficult to conceive of alternatives, particularly when we have hangovers as I do today.
In that sense, then – if any agreement we might ever stumble upon to define consciousness is only arbitrary (and perhaps, pragmatic) – should we just give up? If we legislate, should we be legislating on the basis of suffering or self-awareness or self-realisation or something else (equally or slightly less arbitrary)?
I mean: we can definitely say consciousness is inescapably our own construct. We may never know when an animal is conscious (in a higher sense). Less so a robot, a system of our own making. But we probably understand distress more as a universal negative.
Then again. Does a phone 'suffer' distress when it's running low on battery? We have created those conditions to create a relatable expression that has meaning to us (ie. beeps, flashing icons, red-lining). I don't think anyone would argue a phone is suffering if its battery is low. Unless we assign responsibility to the phone rather than to ourselves to fix the situation.
Agh. Sorry. Scrambled brain!