Texas A&M University
Shriver, Adam Joseph.
What's wrong with pain?.
Degree: MA, Philosophy, 2006, Texas A&M University
The experience of pain is something that most people are extremely familiar
with. However, once we begin to examine the subject from an ethical point of view, and
particularly when we examine so-called marginal cases such as nonhuman animals, we
are quickly confronted with difficult questions. This thesis, through an examination of a
particular feature of moral language and a description of recent research on pain,
provides an analysis of how pain fits into ethical theory.
It is argued that universalizability is an important feature of ethical systems and
provides a basis for claiming that an agent is acting inconsistently if he or she evaluates
similar situations differently. Though the additional features prescriptivity and
overridingness provide an important connection between moral judgment and action in
HareÃ¢ÂÂs two-level utilitarianism, it is argued that they ultimately lead to claims
incompatible with lived moral experience. Arguments by Parfit and Sidgwick are
discussed which tie acting morally to acting consistently, and it is concluded that selfinterest
theory is not a tenable position.
After the features of moral judgment are discussed, the necessary features of a
moral subject are examined. It is concluded that sentience, or the ability to feel pleasure
or pain, is a sufficient condition for being a moral subject. Arguments are examined that
attempt to show which animals likely consciously experience pain. Difficulties for these arguments are discussed and an original argument is presented that at least partially
addresses these difficulties. It is concluded that from an ethical perspective our current
practices such as factory farming are probably not justified. It appears especially likely
that our treatment of other mammals is unethical, but the answers are not as clear with
other animals. However, all of the conclusions are tentative, as no doubt future scientific
investigation will shed more light on our knowledge.
Advisors/Committee Members: Varner, Gary E. (advisor), Allen, Colin F. (committee member), Grau, Jim W. (committee member).
Subjects/Keywords: animal cognition; animal pain; animal welfare
to Zotero / EndNote / Reference
APA (6th Edition):
Shriver, A. J. (2006). What's wrong with pain?. (Masters Thesis). Texas A&M University. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1969.1/4285
Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):
Shriver, Adam Joseph. “What's wrong with pain?.” 2006. Masters Thesis, Texas A&M University. Accessed October 27, 2020.
MLA Handbook (7th Edition):
Shriver, Adam Joseph. “What's wrong with pain?.” 2006. Web. 27 Oct 2020.
Shriver AJ. What's wrong with pain?. [Internet] [Masters thesis]. Texas A&M University; 2006. [cited 2020 Oct 27].
Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/1969.1/4285.
Council of Science Editors:
Shriver AJ. What's wrong with pain?. [Masters Thesis]. Texas A&M University; 2006. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/1969.1/4285