on whether animals feel pain

Some food for thought

Why Evolution Is True

Last year the infamous theologian William Lane Craig debated philosopher Stephen Law, and made the extraordinary claim that many mammals can’t feel pain, or, if they do “feel” pain, then they aren’t aware that they feel pain. Only “the higher primates and human beings,” claims Craig (“higher” of course, is a scientifically inaccurate term), are aware that they feel pain.

But there’s no difference between feeling pain and being aware that you’re feeling pain. Pain is a “quale” (plural “qualia”)—a conscious and subjective sensation—which demands awareness, unless it’s simply a sensation that you have learned (or evolved) to avoid.  But if you’ve learned or evolved to avoid it because it’s unpleasant, then you are indeed aware of feeling pain! Finding a sensation unpleasant demands sufficient consciousness to experience qualia.

The reason Craig and others argue that animals don’t suffer is because it eliminates one of the…

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