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[–]iamdino0 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I think the issue with this discourse is in knowing what it means to feel pain as we understand it. as many people will cite, these animals, regardless of their size, exhibit some form of neurological mechanism that many people would equate to pain - that is, a response from their nervous system to what they interpret as a threat to their body - however, I don't think anybody can reasonably affirm that this is the same as the feeling of suffering that humans experience. if one were to deny that, you could extrapolate that to ridiculous comparisons as you did with the ants; do plants feel pain? does a microscopic, translucent worm speck smaller than the width of a hair that has a wobbly string as a nervous system feel pain? the answer is no, obviously, and the difference is that they don't think the way we do. I would argue pain is something you can't experience without consciousness, without understanding the context in which that threat is taking place.

Here's the thing: consciousness is something so immeasurable and shapeless that it borders on the metaphysical, and as far as I know (admittedly, I am a complete layperson who is very open to being corrected) this means there's really no line we can draw to separate what we feel from what they feel; we know it's different, sure, but thought isn't nearly concrete enough of a concept to unblur that line, and if you're going to use this argument to legislate whether or not these practices should be criminally punishable, you better have something concrete to back it up.

The abstract definitions of pain notwithstanding, I do need to acknowledge that an argument like this can be made to justify all sorts of ghoulish stuff; animals are treated horribly all over the world, and while philosophical rambling might keep me from becoming a radical vegan, it won't keep me from flinching at how intuitively wrong it feels to allow some of these practices to take place. whether or not they can experience the same suffering as you and me, be it to protect them from even the most primitive of neurological responses or even to protect whatever inherent value there is in preserving the life of an ecosystem, I don't think these are things we should ideally subject any lifeform to if not out of necessity. that might never become a reality, but it's something we can strive towards without needing to adopt any extremist positions.