Animal Pain

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Some time ago, I received a telephone call from an eminent primatologist asking me to give the keynote address at a scientific seminar on animal pain. My first response was to express surprise that they were inviting a philosopher. His reply was remarkable, if only for its rarity among scientists: "The truly interesting and important issues concerning pain in animals are not scientific ones," he said. "They are moral, philosophical, and conceptual ones. And the total failure of science to engage or even acknowledge these issues discredits biomedical science and weakens its conceptual base." I hope to show you that my colleague was indeed correct, and that the scientific community's attitude towards animal pain is muddled, inconsistent, incoherent, and perpetuated by self-serving ideological positions which are rarely subjected to logical scrutiny.