Don’t Shout at the Telly: Pain & Animal Experimentation

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This special Don’t Shout at the Telly forms the first programme in our new series on bio-medical science, supported by the Wellcome Trust. Dr Stuart Derbyshire, director of Pain Imaging at the University of Birmingham, introduces the issue by experimenting on volunteers. He then argues that as animals have no psychological self and are not conscious they cannot experience pain, as pain is not merely a response to physical stimuli. Discussants grapple with the complexity of the arguments and whether when experimenting on animals their capacity to feel pain even matters if it helps mankind.


My starting point in this is that as humans we are unique in the animal kingdom. Our thoughts, words and deeds as individuals and as part of human society at a certain stage of development make us the authors of history in a way that no other animals can possibly be. The experiments show that we experience pain as well as other feelings not in an asocial vacuum but in a human-social context. No dog is like this, even though they may whelp and limp when accidentally hit by a car for example. A dog would not get sympathy from another dog in this context but would get sympathy and help from some humans.
By andrew hirst 3 years ago
This certainly did wobble my beliefs and thinking about pain and animal research. So, animals cannot feel as they have no psychological experience, they don't think, therefore they don't feel. Am I convinced, yes, Stuart provides great experiments and evidence and arguments that back it all up yet I still feel uncomfortable with it - maybe that's what makes me human!
By Vivregan 3 years ago
This is really interesting. I don't think we should treat animals cruelly (because of our humanity) but at the same time, like this programme I would both make a clear distinction between animals and humans and also prioritise human beings over animals, so if we need to experiment on animals to advance humanity's lot then we should go for it.
By Baqarah 3 years ago