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PAINIENT

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Thinker13
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Posted 04/18/11 - 2:57 AM:
Subject: PAINIENT
WorldWideWords wrote:
This and the related words painism and painience are creations of Dr Richard Ryder, a British psychologist and ethicist, a retired professor and former chairman of the RSPCA. He has a long-standing concern for animal rights — he claims to have coined speciesism in the 1970s to refer to what he called in 1975 “the widespread discrimination that is practised by man against other species”.

He made painient and painience from pain by analogy with sentient and sentience, so that painient means being able to feel pain, while painience is the quality or state of being painient. Painism is his term for the moral theory that requires us to reduce the pain of others who suffer the most, especially that of individuals.

All three words have been known since the middle 1990s, though they remain rare. Painism gained attention in 2001 through his book Painism: A Modern Morality; in it he argues that anything that can feel pain can suffer and so must have rights, specifically in the case of animals to be protected from human use and abuse.
He wrote recently in a newspaper article: “Our concern for the pain and distress of others should be extended to any ‘painient’ being regardless of his or her sex, class, race, religion, nationality or species. Indeed, if aliens from outer space turn out to be painient, or if we ever manufacture machines who are painient, then we must widen the moral circle to include them.”




Very recently we had some discussion on 'Animal Rights'. A related question:


As highlighted above: Is it justified to give 'rights' to those who are 'suffering' ? How 'suffering' makes a subject qualified for 'rights'?

For example: just because a child is 'painient', could he be given all the rights?

Moreover: If a human cannot feel pain, because of some injury in brain, will he not qualify for 'rights' as he is no more 'painient'?

henry quirk
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Posted 04/18/11 - 8:52 AM:

"...anything that can feel pain can suffer and so must have rights, specifically in the case of animals to be protected from human use and abuse."

I will eat that cow no matter how much 'pain' it can 'feel'.

If the cow has a problem with this: it can defend itself.
libertygrl
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Posted 04/18/11 - 5:35 PM:

on a related note, i took my mom to see the movie "born to be wild" this last weekend. it's a movie about a couple of organizations that have dedicated themselves to rescuing orphan wild animals (specifically, elephants and orangutans, respectively).

after the movie, my mom voiced the objection that, in her view, they anthropomorphized the animals far too much and attributed to them human feelings which she perceives as being absent in animals. for example, the narration talks about how a baby elephant was "traumatized" after seeing poachers kill its mother, and was therefore reacting in a hostile manner toward the rescuers whom, according to the narration, the baby elephant associated (by virtue of similar appearance) with the human poachers.

it was an interesting thought. after considering what she said, i do think it's entirely probable that the elephant was reacting in a hostile manner to the rescuers for the reason enough that 5 men jumped on it with a large blanket and shoved it into the back of their van to take it to the animal shelter. was it also traumatized, though, by the slaughter of its mother? i would say probably so.

it raises the question, though, of whether animals feel what we think they feel? it's hard to know. when you see those eyebrows furrow, which you do see quite a bit of in this film, on the faces of the elephants as well as the orangutans, you can feel there's a definite sensitivity there in these animals, which is obviously not present in all animals.

one problem with dr. ryder's idea is that we can't have a conversation with a work horse to negotiate its services in exchange for food and shelter - does this mean we shouldn't "use" its horsepower, as per his philosophy? it's an idea i have trouble getting behind. i think we tame animals and use them quite instinctively, much like we tame and use each other in human relationships. it doesn't have to be a manner of exploitation; i think it works out quite symbiotically most of the time. ideally, at least.

i do agree that less suffering for animals is better. and i am against the abuse of animals. but it doesn't trouble my conscience to eat animals for food, or to enter into emotionally or functionally symbiotic relationships with them.

Thinker wrote:
How 'suffering' makes a subject qualified for 'rights'?

compassion for the suffering of others is the essence of morality.

Think wrote:
For example: just because a child is 'painient', could he be given all the rights?

it depends on what you mean by "all" the rights. it also depends on what you mean by "rights"? rights generally suggest (at least to me) a liberty that is protected by law.

what rights should bestowed upon humans by law? and should these same rights be extended to animals (at least "painient" ones)?

what are your thoughts, thinker?
Thinker13
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Posted 04/19/11 - 1:59 AM:

lib wrote:


after the movie, my mom voiced the objection that, in her view, they anthropomorphized the animals far too much and attributed to them human feelings which she perceives as being absent in animals. for example, the narration talks about how a baby elephant was "traumatized" after seeing poachers kill its mother, and was therefore reacting in a hostile manner toward the rescuers whom, according to the narration, the baby elephant associated (by virtue of similar appearance) with the human poachers.

Well, what a brilliant objection!



lib wrote:
it raises the question, though, of whether animals feel what we think they feel?

It is an ancient question. It is a question about “Whether non human animals feel like us?” I asked a similar question: “Do other humans feel like you do?” There are no means to know it. No means. All you can do is to interpret the feelings of others and try to relate to them or act toward them in a most meaningful manner; but you cannot ever know what exactly others feel like! You cannot be the ‘other’, even if you have this Neptunian ability of dissolving your boundaries temporarily; you cannot feel how ‘others’ feel. You may very well ask me: “We relate to and respond to the feelings of others and we do not really need in many cases, to literally ‘become’ ‘the other’ in order to help them in the best possible manner. Yes, you’re right. Many times it is being ‘detached’ which helps others, because, having the same feelings (or similar feelings) will make you confused. It might be even better to get into the shoes of others (for a while!) and then, having understood the gravity of situation, become detached and find a solution to help them out. Now: while getting into the shoes of others, if you could feel exactly as they feel; if you could become, even for a minute, what they really are; you might find the most adequate or fitting solution for their condition.
A hypothetical scenario: A man comes to me and he is in despair. He says: “I am in pain and agony”. To give me a hint about the ‘degree’ of pain he is going through, he suggests: “Life is hopeless; I am willing to commit suicide in a minute.” Now: As I try to relate it to the situation where I will be so hapless and dejected that committing suicide will be the only refuge; I realize: It is not necessary (in fact it is very remote possibility) that my degree of pain at which I prefer committing suicide than living, is, as same as his degree of pain at which he is very willing to commit suicide. This is, in my opinion, the core problem of Psychology: quantification of feelings, measurement and comparison is not possible.
Who has been hurt more, me or him? Always remains the question in relationships.
How good your child feels is, key in upbringing.
When, you are in a dilemma and you have to take a decision to help one of the two persons based on the degree of suffering, you cannot easily decide and your decisions might often be wrong in the absence of such discretion.
Thinker13
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Posted 04/19/11 - 2:05 AM:

lib wrote:
compassion for the suffering of others is the essence of morality.


I agree. The question is: is it ‘suffering’ which is a parameter for giving ‘rights’? In other words what about non painient human beings (hypothetically those who have received some brain injury?)? Shall they not be given rights because they no longer feel pain?

lib wrote:

what rights should bestowed upon humans by law? and should these same rights be extended to animals (at least "painient" ones)?

what are your thoughts, thinker?

Just because animals do not have as complex brains and intelligence as humans have, it is not even possible to give them some of the ‘rights’ , no matter how much you much you try to do so, on account of their being ‘painient’.
libertygrl
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Posted 04/19/11 - 10:32 PM:

Thinker wrote:
The question is: is it ‘suffering’ which is a parameter for giving ‘rights’?

i think it depends on what kind of rights you're talking about. what are some rights that you feel humans should have, regardless of "painience"?
Thinker13
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Posted 04/21/11 - 5:10 AM:

libertygrl wrote:

i think it depends on what kind of rights you're talking about. what are some rights that you feel humans should have, regardless of "painience"?



I do not have much to contest against the 'rights' but rather about the concept that suffering should be the criterion which should be used for giving rights. For example: If I say I do not suffer 'owing to my condition', based on the aforementioned criterion you may make me deprived of my rights; which should not be the case!
libertygrl
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Posted 04/28/11 - 12:22 AM:

what should be the criterion for rights, in your view?
libertygrl
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Posted 04/29/11 - 6:50 PM:

here's a related article that i found greatly informative:

www.grandin.com/welfare/ani...nimals.are.not.things.html

it's written by the renowned cattle expert, dr. temple grandin, about whom a movie was made and received much critical acclaim. this article actually relates to several different topics, including that of animal rights, also the difference between pain & suffering.

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