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"The question is not, Can they <i>reason</i>? nor, Can they <i>talk</i>? but, Can they <i>suffer</i>?" I assume most of us have heard this famous quote from Jeremy Bentham at some point in our lives and I should think the majority of us are in agreement with it.<br><br>
It is obvious that inflicting needless suffering upon other beings is wrong (well, obvious to the veg community at least). My question is whether the capacity for human beings to suffer is greater than the capacity for cows, pigs, chickens etc. to suffer. I know that some like Sam Harris feel that humans can suffer to a greater extent than other animals (this is his justification for placing human interests above other species) but I have read or heard other animal scientists and neuroscientists disagreeing and saying that this is not necessarily true.<br><br>
Is anyone knowledgeable on this topic or does anyone have any informed views to share? I'd like to hear your thoughts on this question. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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You would probably have to ask that question of those who are suffering and then those answers would be biased. There's no way to answer that question.
 

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I think because of our intellectual capacity and our ability to think existentially, I think we have the potential to suffer far more.
 

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Who knows? I'm agnostic on this one. I think animals are abused in greater numbers and with a greater severity than humans, but whether or not their interpretation of suffering is greater or lesser than ours seems indeterminable.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Nishani</strong> <a href="/forum/post/3062124"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I think because of our intellectual capacity and our ability to think existentially, I think we have the potential to suffer far more.</div>
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Actually, I think it's the reverse. Intellectual capacity provides a way to mediate suffering. I think a young child might suffer more being tortured than an adult with normal cognition. The child has no way to comfort themselves with existential philosophy. All they experience is the present and pain.<br><br>
In terms of nonhumans, same thing, and there is also good evidence that at least monkeys (I don't know about other animals) suffer more than humans.<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">The amygdala is the almond-shaped region of the brain involved in basic emotions such as fear, anger and aggression. There is an amygdala in each hemisphere of the brain. Amaral and Kalin destroy or otherwise damage these structures in monkeys’ brains and then observe the changes in the monkeys’ behavior.<br><br>
The monkeys used by Kalin and Amaral are macaques. These monkeys have amygdalas both relatively and absolutely larger than human amygdalas. Comparative neurophysiology suggests that the emotions experienced by these animals are more intense and central to their lives than are the emotions experienced by humans. As relatively reduced as emotional experiences must be in humans, they are recognized as being a fundamental part of our innermost being.</div>
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<br><a href="http://www.primatefreedom.com/essays/howlikeusneedtheybe.shtml" target="_blank">http://www.primatefreedom.com/essays...edtheybe.shtml</a>
 

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I'm suffering just trying to think of an intelligent answer for this<br>
>><span style="font-size:xx-small;">rubs chin in a big thinky type fashion</span><<<br><br>
urm, dunno <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/grin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":D">
 

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Many non-humans may not have available some means of alleviating suffering which humans do, such as:<br>
-hope for the better<br>
-moral support by other members of the same exploited/tortured group<br>
-calming yourself down via various psychological means, such as intentionally relaxing, thinking of positive things, believing in the eventual punishment of your captors, etc.<br><br>
The "amount" of suffering is also extremely dependent on context, type of act, species, the history of the individual, and so on.
 

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If recent studies on chicken empathy are to be believed, they're capable of levels of suffering at least comparable with a small child or a pet animal such as a cat or a dog.<br><br>
11 billion chickens will have died in 2011 alone by year's end. More chickens have been confined in factory farms and slaughtered over the last century than the combined total of human beings which has ever existed on this earth from the beginning of our species.<br><br>
If you're keeping their empathy and ability to suffer in mind and going by the sheer overwhelming numbers, I'd say there's been a lot of suffering caused by intensive chicken farming alone.
 

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Imagine all of the animals <i>right now</i> being held captive in cages for animal testing and tell me human suffering is greater. At least most people have seen the sunlight. At least people have hope and some means for defending themselves. These animals have nothing due to human 'technologies'.
 

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I think Sam Harris wouldn't suffer much from a fork inserted so deeply into his knee that you couldn't even get two fingers around the fork handle.
 

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Humans and animals share the capacity to suffer when they endure mistreatment, pain, fear, incarceration, torture, or deprivation. But we don't always experience something as deprivation if we're being kept from something we've never had, or observed others enjoying. Even death might not horrify me the way it does if I witnessed it on a daily basis. Cat box odors might knock me over when I walk into someone else's house, but the people who live there seem oblivious. People who raise livestock, even in CAFO operations, claim their animals are content when everything is as the animals expect it to be. When their routine is broken -- a meal is late, the climate control breaks down, a predator breaks in and starts attacking them -- then they become agitated and start displaying all kinds of unhappiness.<br><br>
We know about things a mouse in the wild experiences that a caged mouse never will. We don't know how much that caged mouse misses being out there. We imagine ourselves in that cage and believe we would be unhappy not to be able to forage, mate, etc., but we who are imagining it have knowledge of all those things. The caged mouse might feel a deep-seated restlessness and not know where it's coming from, or it might just be content when the food, water, bedding and room temperature are the way it is used to having them. Maybe a creature whose life includes a lot of restraint, isolation and sensory deprivation learns how to bring its mind into a self-soothing "happy place." I kind of doubt it, but it might be how they get used to crappy things without seeming agitated all the time.<br><br>
I agree with those who think people have the capacity to suffer worse than animals do. I think most animals are not capable of suffering from guilt, shame or regret.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Joan Kennedy</strong> <a href="/forum/post/3062362"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Humans and animals share the capacity to suffer when they endure mistreatment, pain, fear, incarceration, torture, or deprivation. But we don't experience something as deprivation if we're being kept from something we've never had, or observed others enjoying. Death wouldn't horrify me the way it does if I witnessed it on a daily basis. Cat box odors might knock me over when I walk into someone else's house, but the people who live there seem oblivious. People who raise livestock, even in CAFO operations, claim their animals are content when everything is as the animals expect it to be. When their routine is broken -- a meal is late, the climate control breaks down, a predator breaks in and starts attacking them -- then they become agitated and start displaying all kinds of unhappiness.<br><br>
We know about things a mouse in the wild experiences that a caged mouse never will. We don't know how much that caged mouse misses being out there. We imagine ourselves in that cage and believe we would be unhappy not to be able to forage, mate, etc., but we who are imagining it have knowledge of all those things. The caged mouse might feel a deep-seated restlessness and not know where it's coming from, or it might just be content when the food, water, bedding and room temperature are the way it is used to having them. Maybe a creature whose life includes a lot of restraint, isolation and sensory deprivation learns how to bring its mind into a self-soothing "happy place." I kind of doubt it, but it might be how they get used to crappy things without seeming agitated all the time.<br><br>
I agree with those who think people have the capacity to suffer worse than animals do. I think most animals are not capable of suffering from guilt, shame or regret.</div>
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I do not consider "guilt, shame, or regret" on the same level as literal physical torture. Or if you do then you are saying that babies and young children cannot suffer as much as human adults. Do you think that?<br><br>
I also urge you to look at the life of 99% of farmed animals, as well as vivisected animals. A chicken lives in a space the size of half of a piece of notebook paper. There's not some vague sense of discontentment - they become dead inside from boredom, frustration, physical pain... I've met animals with the blankest, deadest eyes you've ever seen. They're not "content." Why you would believe factory farmers about the contentment of their animals is so far beyond sense it makes me really angry. I really think you need to watch <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Earthlings</span> (or re-watch, because if you've seen it before you've forgotten it) to have any real understanding of the torture most animals go through who are used for commerce.<br><br>
And the "self-soothing happy place" that you imagine they might get to in order to not be agitated all the time? Really? Humans, animals, GIVE UP when their lives are hopeless. They stop acting agitated. Ever see video of young Romanian orphans from the 80's and 90's? The ones who have all their needs ignored and lie in their cribs all day? Do you wonder why they aren't agitated? Do you think they're in their "happy places?" Now if someone came at them with a knife, do you think they might be more agitated by the change? Does that mean they were "content" before? Many were put in those cribs from birth and never knew anything different. Do you think they weren't suffering as much as those humans who have regrets and shame and know deprivation from having experienced something different?<br><br>
I would like to put most humans into the equivalent of a half sheet of notebook paper for their size, for their entire lives, and let those of us who are free discuss their relative lack of suffering - after all, we might experience shame or regret, that those caged humans never have the opportunity to experience. How absolutely arrogant to talk about human suffering being greater because we can experience "shame."
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Irizary</strong> <a href="/forum/post/3062395"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I do not consider "guilt, shame, or regret" on the same level as literal physical torture. Or if you do then you are saying that babies and young children cannot suffer as much as human adults. Do you think that?<br><br>
I also urge you to look at the life of 99% of farmed animals, as well as vivisected animals. A chicken lives in a space the size of half of a piece of notebook paper. There's not some vague sense of discontentment - they become dead inside from boredom, frustration, physical pain... I've met animals with the blankest, deadest eyes you've ever seen. They're not "content." Why you would believe factory farmers about the contentment of their animals is so far beyond sense it makes me really angry. I really think you need to watch <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Earthlings</span> (or re-watch, because if you've seen it before you've forgotten it) to have any real understanding of the torture most animals go through who are used for commerce.<br><br>
And the "self-soothing happy place" that you imagine they might get to in order to not be agitated all the time? Really? Humans, animals, GIVE UP when their lives are hopeless. They stop acting agitated. Ever see video of young Romanian orphans from the 80's and 90's? The ones who have all their needs ignored and lie in their cribs all day? Do you wonder why they aren't agitated? Do you think they're in their "happy places?" Now if someone came at them with a knife, do you think they might be more agitated by the change? Does that mean they were "content" before? Many were put in those cribs from birth and never knew anything different. Do you think they weren't suffering as much as those humans who have regrets and shame and know deprivation from having experienced something different?<br><br>
I would like to put most humans into the equivalent of a half sheet of notebook paper for their size, for their entire lives, and let those of us who are free discuss their relative lack of suffering - after all, we might experience shame or regret, that those caged humans never have the opportunity to experience. How absolutely arrogant to talk about human suffering being greater because we can experience "shame."</div>
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Irizary, I'd say that the number of things that babies can suffer from is smaller than the number of things adults can suffer from. Suffering is suffering whether it's self-inflicted or inflicted on us by others. Most of the rest of my post was offering the possibility that we don't suffer the absence of things we've never had as acutely as we suffer the loss of things we used to have that have been taken from us. And I don't know why you had to go off on me about what I said about people who raise livestock. I didn't say I agreed with them, only that that's what they claim. <i>I never said those animals are content.</i> I've read enough of your posts that I know for sure you can appreciate the difference. What people who raise them claim, what they see and how they interpret what they see, is relevant to the discussion even if you believe -- as I thought we pretty much all believe here -- that they are way, way off. It's also part of how they are able to live with themselves, in case you've ever wondered.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Joan Kennedy</strong> <a href="/forum/post/3062408"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Irizary, I'd say that the number of things that babies can suffer from is smaller than the number of things adults can suffer from. Suffering is suffering whether it's self-inflicted or inflicted on us by others.</div>
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Yes, if your entire life is lived inside a tiny cage in a shed, the number of experiences you can have is smaller. But you used the existence of those extra things to state than humans have MORE suffering: "I agree with those who think people have the capacity to suffer worse than animals do. I think most animals are not capable of suffering from guilt, shame or regret." I'd in fact argue that when your life is so tortuously limited and worthless that you are prevented by force from even being able to move from the very spot you are in your entire life or even move your arms up, and provided with no stimulation, your suffering is greater than someone who moves around normally for their species, has choices to makes, has pain sometimes, and experiences "regret" over various things. Which life would you prefer and do you think would offer less suffering?<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Most of the rest of my post was offering the possibility that we don't suffer the loss of things we've never had as acutely as we suffer the loss of things we used to have that have been taken from us.</div>
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Deprivation isn't only the experience of loss. It's the experience of not having basic things, including movement and stimulation. I knew a dog who had been chained up his entire life. He hadn't known freedom and wouldn't have known what he was missing. But he was so numb to the world by the time I rescued him that he would walk to a wall and stare at it, unmoving. A big part of him was just no longer there. But many animals are forced to experience deprivation as you define it regardless - ever hear of forced molting? deprivation of food and water for experiments? Something like the deprivation of pain meds during things like castrations or experiments might not be deprivation as you define it - but it's the intentional causing of pain without attempt at cessation.<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">And I don't know why you had to go off on me about what I said about people who raise livestock... What people who raise them claim is relevant to the discussion, and it's also part of how they can live with themselves, in case you've ever wondered.</div>
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I don't think what they say is relevant for any discussion about the suffering of the animals they torture. It's only relevant to how people who do such things rationalize it. And it seemed to me that in your post you accepted that it might be reasonable.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Irizary</strong> <a href="/forum/post/3062154"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Actually, I think it's the reverse. Intellectual capacity provides a way to mediate suffering. I think a young child might suffer more being tortured than an adult with normal cognition. The child has no way to comfort themselves with existential philosophy. All they experience is the present and pain.<br><br>
In terms of nonhumans, same thing, and there is also good evidence that at least monkeys (I don't know about other animals) suffer more than humans.<br><br><br><a href="http://www.primatefreedom.com/essays/howlikeusneedtheybe.shtml" target="_blank">http://www.primatefreedom.com/essays...edtheybe.shtml</a></div>
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This.<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Sevenseas</strong> <a href="/forum/post/3062223"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Many non-humans may not have available some means of alleviating suffering which humans do, such as:<br>
-hope for the better<br>
-moral support by other members of the same exploited/tortured group<br>
-calming yourself down via various psychological means, such as intentionally relaxing, thinking of positive things, believing in the eventual punishment of your captors, etc.<br><br>
The "amount" of suffering is also extremely dependent on context, type of act, species, the history of the individual, and so on.</div>
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And this.<br><br>
Even if animals suffered less than humans do, I wouldn't use that as an excuse to needlessly consume them. Suffering is suffering.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">I don't think what they say is relevant for any discussion about the suffering of the animals they torture. It's only relevant to how people who do such things rationalize it. And it seemed to me that in your post you accepted that it might be reasonable. \t\t\t\t\t\t</div>
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Irizary, I'm not going to quote your whole post, but I think you were reading way too much between the lines of what I wrote. And I think some -- not all -- of our disagreement here is how we compare the gravity of chronic suffering with acute suffering. What you describe as dead eyes and hopelessness is probably just that, and it's a misery to witness. But I also think that sometimes it's a kind of resignation that's a valuable coping mechanism while we're enduring something that we can't fight, to get us through in case we're able to outlast the situation. Like dissociation, or zoning out, which people sometimes do when helpless. As animals and humans share the capacity to suffer, I for one would be comforted if I knew that we also share some capacity for zoning out. <i>But like I said in the first post, I kind of doubt it.</i>
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>sequoia</strong> <a href="/forum/post/3062430"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Even if animals suffered less than humans do, I wouldn't use that as an excuse to needlessly consume them. Suffering is suffering.</div>
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<br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/yes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":yes:"><br><br>
why does the amount of suffering matter? who knows what goes on in a factory farmed animal's head, they can't speak and tell us, but i'm pretty sure they don't view their lives as full of sunshine and rainbows. what matters is that needless suffering is indeed inflicted on them. there's no justification for that.
 

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<b>I feel anything with a central nervous system that can feel pain is capable of suffering. As for whether or not humans or animals suffer more? Humans ARE animals, just because we are human does not mean we can hold ourselves upon a pedestal and pretend that no other animal is capable of feeling the same things that we feel.<br>
Isn't that part of being vegan/vegetarian? To admit that animals can suffer and experience the same as the human animal? I feel if you were to punch your mother, your dog, or a chicken. They would all experience pain. I feel that animals suffer just as much as humans, I find it silly and odd that vegans/vegetarians would disagree with this thought.</b>
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>weirdo vegan chick</strong> <a href="/forum/post/3062475"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br><br>
why does the amount of suffering matter? who knows what goes on in a factory farmed animal's head, they can't speak and tell us, but i'm pretty sure they don't view their lives as full of sunshine and rainbows. what matters is that needless suffering is indeed inflicted on them. there's no justification for that.</div>
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<br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/thumbsup.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":up:">
 
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