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← But can they suffer?

SteveN's Avatar Jump to comment 36 by SteveN

Like most people here, I have never understood those who claim that 'animals cannot suffer as humans do'. I can only assume that some individuals have never seen a sick or injured animal in their lives. I had assumed, however, that all mammals, for example, would suffer equally and the idea of an inverse correlation with 'intellect' had never occurred to me. Intriguing, but pure speculation at this point in time, I guess. However, I am uncertain whether 'equal opportunity suffering' applies to all animals: a sufficiently developed nervous system would seem to be a prerequisite. I imagine that there is a sliding scale from, for example, sponges to mammals (or large-brained cephalopods etc).

It also occurs to me that sterile eusocial insects may have de-evolved their sensitivity to suffering to allow them to make sacrifices for the good of the gene-bearing queen. I certainly hope so: I seem to remember as a very young child going on an ant-hunt with a magnifying glass (shudder).

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 13:04:00 UTC | #844810