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nizmo

Animals and pain

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What I see as our area of dispute is that because some plants have the ability to respond to certain stimuli, that there is as much reason to believe plants feel pain as there is to think that animals do.

You need to take into account modern, medical research on Pain. It is pointlessness to base these discussions on world views and beliefs. We should, instead be basing them on evidence and logic.

 

Plants have the ability to detect a stimulus in one location and then respond at another location. This requires some form of signalling network.

 

Plants also have the ability to differentiate their responses based on the stimulus presented (location, and type of stimulus), and respond in different ways to those different stimulus.

 

Plant signalling networks are not of the same cellular type as animals, but some of the mechanisms are similar (chemical signalling between cells).

 

To allow this plant cells involved in these networks need only 4 properties:

 

1) The ability to differentiate between different signalling chemicals. Plants have to have this as part of the cells basic abilities as this kind of signalling is involved in cellular differentiation and maintaining the operation of the organism as a whole

 

2) The ability to respond to chemical signals. Plants also need to have this as part of their basic operational toolbox or they could not manage their "body" (as opposed to cellular) chemistry.

 

3) The ability to emit chemical signals. All cells, even single cellular organisms have this ability as it is part of the normal processes that occur in cells.

 

4) Connectivity between cells. A given Cell in a plant does not contact every other cell in the plant, but they do contact nearby cells.

 

Plants, therefore, clearly have the requirement to form signalling and even processing networks within them. These structures would not likely represent animal ones, but these structures can and do exist as evidenced by the ability of plants to respond to different signals in different ways at a point that is not where the stimulus occurred.

 

Pain, Fear and Suffering are all states of the processing network and are not the stimulus that occurs. These state changes are usually, but not necessarily, caused by the stimulus.

 

The important thing is that these are States, not Stimuli.

 

I don't know if there is a state in the plant's signalling networks that equates to pain, or fear or even suffering, but I have to acknowledge that it could be possible.

 

However, I do accept that plants respond to noxious stimuli as it can be directly observed that they do.

 

When you get down to it, pain, fear, suffering or any other state is really down to the pattern of signalling that occurs in a brain. And a brain is just a network of cells that can signal each other and connected in certain ways to process those signals for a give task.

 

All these things are just illusions, the result of the particular pattern of signalling that is going on. But we ascribe it a meaning (another illusion of our particular signalling network).

 

It comes down to Empathy. That particular "illusion" of our signalling network that is important for us to operate as a species. And this is why it is just as important for us to have empathy for plants as it is for animals. We can't be sure that plants don't "feel" pain and suffering, just as we can't even be really sure that other humans fell pain and suffering. But it is the emotion of empathy that binds us as a species and allows us to treat other entities as important.

 

In reality, a plant is no more important than another human, it is only important within a given set of "illusions". The base set of illusions that humans have contains empathy.

 

This empathy prevents us from just harming others at will. Psychopaths actually lack this "illusion" of empathy and that is what allows them to harm others without remorse. In certain circumstances this is actually a beneficial thing, but in general it is not good if there are too many people like that.

 

However, empathy is not an On/Off emotion. There are shade of it and we can apply different levels to different objects. It even has nothing to do with whether or not the object is living or not.

 

What we do know about empathy is it can change. If we deliberately act without empathy to certain objects then we can reduce the amount of empathy we will feel for it.

 

One feature we know of human brains (and most like any other brain, or even for signalling/processing networks in general) is that they classify objects into groups.

 

Think about vehicles. There are thousands of variants of vehicles we encounter every day, but we recognise them as vehicles because our brains classify them as such.

 

With empathy, if we have trained our brains to de-empathise with a certain object, then it is possible to de-empathise with other objects that share a certain grouping with it. Racism is one example of this.

 

Now, because there are shades of empathy we can feel, and we bleed over empathy for one object to another if the objects share certain classifications with each other, then any lack of empathy must be carefully controlled or we can end up de-empathising with objects that should be important.

 

When you ahve said that we are allowed to empathise (not kill) certain animals because they ahve a complex enough brain, you have to be specific about what level of complexity and why that level of complexity is the distinguishing feature that determines the value of the organism.

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You need to take into account modern, medical research on Pain. It is pointlessness to base these discussions on world views and beliefs. We should, instead be basing them on evidence and logic.

 

Plants have the ability to detect a stimulus in one location and then respond at another location. This requires some form of signalling network.

 

Plants also have the ability to differentiate their responses based on the stimulus presented (location, and type of stimulus), and respond in different ways to those different stimulus.

 

Plant signalling networks are not of the same cellular type as animals, but some of the mechanisms are similar (chemical signalling between cells).

 

To allow this plant cells involved in these networks need only 4 properties:

 

1) The ability to differentiate between different signalling chemicals. Plants have to have this as part of the cells basic abilities as this kind of signalling is involved in cellular differentiation and maintaining the operation of the organism as a whole

 

2) The ability to respond to chemical signals. Plants also need to have this as part of their basic operational toolbox or they could not manage their "body" (as opposed to cellular) chemistry.

 

3) The ability to emit chemical signals. All cells, even single cellular organisms have this ability as it is part of the normal processes that occur in cells.

 

4) Connectivity between cells. A given Cell in a plant does not contact every other cell in the plant, but they do contact nearby cells.

 

Plants, therefore, clearly have the requirement to form signalling and even processing networks within them. These structures would not likely represent animal ones, but these structures can and do exist as evidenced by the ability of plants to respond to different signals in different ways at a point that is not where the stimulus occurred.

 

Pain, Fear and Suffering are all states of the processing network and are not the stimulus that occurs. These state changes are usually, but not necessarily, caused by the stimulus.

 

The important thing is that these are States, not Stimuli.

 

I don't know if there is a state in the plant's signalling networks that equates to pain, or fear or even suffering, but I have to acknowledge that it could be possible.

 

However, I do accept that plants respond to noxious stimuli as it can be directly observed that they do.

 

When you get down to it, pain, fear, suffering or any other state is really down to the pattern of signalling that occurs in a brain. And a brain is just a network of cells that can signal each other and connected in certain ways to process those signals for a give task.

 

All these things are just illusions, the result of the particular pattern of signalling that is going on. But we ascribe it a meaning (another illusion of our particular signalling network).

 

It comes down to Empathy. That particular "illusion" of our signalling network that is important for us to operate as a species. And this is why it is just as important for us to have empathy for plants as it is for animals. We can't be sure that plants don't "feel" pain and suffering, just as we can't even be really sure that other humans fell pain and suffering. But it is the emotion of empathy that binds us as a species and allows us to treat other entities as important.

 

In reality, a plant is no more important than another human, it is only important within a given set of "illusions". The base set of illusions that humans have contains empathy.

 

This empathy prevents us from just harming others at will. Psychopaths actually lack this "illusion" of empathy and that is what allows them to harm others without remorse. In certain circumstances this is actually a beneficial thing, but in general it is not good if there are too many people like that.

 

However, empathy is not an On/Off emotion. There are shade of it and we can apply different levels to different objects. It even has nothing to do with whether or not the object is living or not.

 

What we do know about empathy is it can change. If we deliberately act without empathy to certain objects then we can reduce the amount of empathy we will feel for it.

 

One feature we know of human brains (and most like any other brain, or even for signalling/processing networks in general) is that they classify objects into groups.

 

Think about vehicles. There are thousands of variants of vehicles we encounter every day, but we recognise them as vehicles because our brains classify them as such.

 

With empathy, if we have trained our brains to de-empathise with a certain object, then it is possible to de-empathise with other objects that share a certain grouping with it. Racism is one example of this.

 

Now, because there are shades of empathy we can feel, and we bleed over empathy for one object to another if the objects share certain classifications with each other, then any lack of empathy must be carefully controlled or we can end up de-empathising with objects that should be important.

 

When you ahve said that we are allowed to empathise (not kill) certain animals because they ahve a complex enough brain, you have to be specific about what level of complexity and why that level of complexity is the distinguishing feature that determines the value of the organism.

 

to begin my response by explaining to you that the way I feel about the suffering of animals is not something that was taught to me. I have felt that way as far back as I can recall. I used to ask my parents about it at different times and got differing responses. Sometimes my mother would tell me animals don`t feel. Or, we need to eat meat to stay strong, it`s better not to think about it. Things like that. It always seemed obvious to me that they suffered much the same as we do. I believe I have presented what I consider scientifically valid evidence as well as I am capable of. There is no way I can event think of to explain my reasoning any better than I have wich is primarily based on the anatomical simularities we share with so many animals. You also inquired as to how I judge or determine what organisms are OK to kill. I would say it depends on the situation I am involved in when such a desision is required of me. I mentioned to you in another posting that I had killed some enemy soldiers while serving as an infantryman in Viet Nam. I had no problem with that.I have the same right to defend myself as any other animal. They were doing their best to kill me and my comrades. I kill mice when they show up in my home. It troubles me but I consider it neccessary.I have no qualms about killing troublesome insects. I`ve kicked and beaten on a few dogs who attacked me and felt good about it. And I also really loved the two dogs I had for pets. They are both dead now. I read from some of your postings to others that you suffer severe chronic pain. My heart goes out to you. You take care my friend. ...Dr.Syntax

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