Answering Arguments Against Animal Rights
Part V -- Argument Four: Animals cannot feel pain
Argument Four: Animals cannot feel pain.

Argument four: animals cannot feel pain.
Argument Four: Animals cannot feel pain.

When people cause, or take part in the cruel treatment of animals, they often soothe their conscience with the argument that animals can't feel pain.
Rene Descartes

This absurd notion was given false credibility when the French philosopher and vivisector Rene Descartes championed the view that non-human animals consist of mindless, unfeeling, instinctive reactions similar to machines. But this cannot be considered scientific any longer.

Scientists have conducted thousands of cruel experiments with animals...
An animal with electrodes stuck in its head

...in which they use pain-avoidance as a key behavior in the test subjects. If the idea that animals feel pain was unscientific, then why do scientists expect animals to avoid pain in their experiments?
A chart showing the nervous system of an animal

We know that animals have nerves and brains.

We know that the purpose of nerves is to convey sensory stimuli to the brain.
A man sitting by a fire, showing nerve impulses leading to the brain

We know from our own bodies that nerves do feel pain and convey that message loud and clear to our brains.
Diagram of the human brain

We even know what part of our brain registers pain. It is the thalamus: also called the "reptilian brain" because this very primitive part of the brain has not evolved since we were in the reptilian stage of our evolution.

In other words: from humans on down to the lowest reptile, this part of the brain is the same.
A turtle

And the logical conclusion is that from humans on down the evolutionary scale at least as far as the reptiles, the experience of pain is the same. In fact, the sensation of pain may be greater in other animals since they may not be able to console themselves with the thought that the pain is of short duration. It may fill their entire being with pain and fear.

In any case, nature is not wasteful -- or generous.
A frog

When an animal has evolved a central nervous system, it isn't there just for high-school students to dissect. It serves a function. The function of a central nervous system is to convey sensations, including pain. And pain serves a very useful function in any animal's survival.
Steve

If I lay my hand on a hot burner I might leave it there to suffer irreparable damage if it were not for the sensation of pain: which causes me to yank my hand away almost instantly. So too in nature: an animal would not survive long without the capacity to feel pain and so avoid what is harmful to their well being and continued existence.
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