Animals, pain and morality

Carter, A.B. (2005) Animals, pain and morality. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 22(1), pp. 17-22. (doi:10.1111/j.1468-5930.2005.00289.x)

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While it is widely agreed that the infliction upon innocents of needless pain is immoral, many have argued that, even though nonhuman animals act as if they feel pain, there is no reason to think that they actually suffer painful experiences. And if our actions only appear to cause nonhuman animals pain, then such actions are not immoral. On the basis of the claim that certain behavioural responses to organismic harm are maladaptive, whereas the ability to feel pain is itself adaptive, this article argues that the experience of pain should be viewed as the proximate cause of such occasionally maladaptive behaviour. But as nonhuman animals also display such maladaptive traits, we have reason to conclude that they feel pain. Hence, we have reason to hold that it is indeed possible to inflict needless pain on nonhuman animals, which would be immoral.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Carter, Prof Alan
Authors: Carter, A.B.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Journal Name:Journal of Applied Philosophy
ISSN (Online):1468-5930
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