Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Animal Liberation(part 4)
Those who may argue on the basis of this may do this from different angles. They may say that since animals don’t talk, so we don’t have a way of becoming aware of their probable suffering. It is not being denied that a speachless creature could suffer, but that we cannot know their suffering. It is easy to see that this objection is based on the presumption that “I am in pain” is the best possible evidence to know that the speaker is in pain. But is it so? What if the speaker is lying? What would we say if somebody who was badly burned and was writhing and groaning and avoiding any kind of touch to his burned skin later told us that he wasn’t feeling any pain? Wouldn’t we tell him that either he was lying or he was suffering form amnesia? The reason that we don’t believe in what he says is that we think behavioral signs are more reliable than linguistic evidence. Behavioral signs and knowledge of the animal’s biological similarity to us together provide adequate evidence that animals do suffer. Infants don’t talk, but we can tell when they feel pain, since we see their way of behaving in the light of our own behavior, which we know of. Just as we can understand infant human behavior in the light of adult human behavior, so we can understand the behavior of other species in the light of our own behavior, and sometimes we can understand our own behavior better in the light of the behavior of other species. The second way of linking language and the existence of pain is when they may simply say that since language is a prerequisite for conceptual thinking, animals can’t have any thought or intention, which means they don’t have any state of consciousness and in the wake of it any feeling of pain. To me this seems quite implausible. Even it may be that the use of a public language that has syntax is a precondition of conceptual thought, but states like pain , surely , are more primitive than this , and may as well have nothing to do with language.
(posted by Farid)

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