It makes me wonder how much of a brain is needed to get that sort of functioning. Can insects feel pain, for instance? They don’t seem to be that phased when they lose a leg but that might just be because they need to work hard to get away to recover. But pain is an illusion of the brain and it’s pretty clear that bacteria can’t feel pain, unless we’ve overlooked a huge part of their microbial anatomy, so at what point does the complexity of an animal’s nervous system allow them this perception? More importantly, can we find out when it was derived, because if we did we could get a pretty good idea of what percentage of creatures in this world (and especially those that get caught up in fishing nets and other potentially painful aspects of human society) can feel pain.
I’m sure once we do, the peta campaigns will come hard and fast, perhaps these ones won’t be objectifying women or showing horrifying parodies of video games.
Once we know, would we have to change some of our practices to accommodate this? Should we not already be changing our practices to cause less harm to individual animals and less damage to ecosystems? From what I’ve seen it’s difficult to tell people who have been doing the same thing for years that they have to change, especially when we as westerners are in a state of privilege, having already destroyed everything on our side of the globe and telling developing countries that they can’t exploit their lands to the same degree that we’ve buggered up ours.