Killing insects

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Re: Killing insects

#121  Postby LIFE » Mar 24, 2010 12:37 am

NineBerry wrote:I very much hope that in a few decades we will have artificial intelligence and then any computer software process with artificial intelligence should in my opinion have much more rights than an insect.


Depends on the AI I'd say. If AI lacks empathy for humans I'd say they shouldn't have too many rights ;)

Meanwhile I'll gather data for Case 1). Not today though, I'm tired, give me some time...
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Re: Killing insects

#122  Postby Calilasseia » Mar 24, 2010 2:29 am

As an entomologist, I have an interest in this topic, and my usual response to seeing invertebrates turn up in the house is to release them where possible. The only time I would change this approach would be if I were confronted with something that I knew presented a real and quantifiable threat to my health. So, if I found myself confronting, say, a specimen of Phoneutria fera in my home, knowing what I do about this extremely fast-moving and venomous spider (its venom is certainly capable of killing a human being, and it possesses a mix of fast movement, aggression, and complete absence of fear of larger organisms, that makes it dangerous as a consequence), I would be tempted to choose the "kill" option because capture and release would be out of the question, and even if I were successful at capturing it, here in the UK there would only be one place I could have it sent to, and that is the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, where they could press it into service for antivenin production. This would be problematic for several reasons. One, not possessing a car, I would be reliant on public transport, and I think the paying passengers of my local bus companies would not be pleased if they learned I had taken a lethally venomous spider on the bus with me. Ditto with respect to the train services. This would mean that I would have to call in the local police to handle it. Who, in turn, would have to contact Liverpool Museum and call upon the services of the resident arachnologist, who has to deal with these things when they turn up at Liverpool docks in banana crates. He tells me that capturing an angry Phoneutria fera in full-bore attack mode is not an experience he wishes to repeat very often for the sake of his health, though in the absence of someone else to take control of the situation, he would be the individual that the police would call upon, and so, I'd probably call upon him first. Though I suspect he would be less than delighted at having to transport a lethally venomous spider in his car to the School of Tropical Medicine. Basically, if I encountered one of these, la merde would hit the fan very quickly.

Having said that, I cannot help but make the following observations about insects, which should provide people with rather more empathy toward them than would otherwise be the case. For example, take a peek at this otherwise nondescript creature. This is Elasmucha grisea, otherwise known as the Parent Bug, an insect which provides parental care for its offspring. It isn't the only insect that cares for its young: parental care is a feature of the reproductive cycle of numerous species of earwig - one of the most spectacular being the critically endangered Saint Helena Giant Earwig, Labidura herculeana, a species that has sadly not been seen alive since 1967, and which may now be extinct, and which provides fairly intensive brood care for its offspring.

Then of course, there is the communal brood care offered by termites, and all the eusocial Hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants), which co-operate with each other on an industrial scale in this regard. Among the solitary wasps that provide some form of care for their offspring, in the form of food provision, the most spectacular are the Spider Hunting Wasps of the Family Pomphilidae, which includes the Tarantula Hawk Wasps of the Genus Pepsis. A female Pepsis wasp engages in mortal combat with a Theraphosid spider many times her own mass, in order to provide food for her offspring, and, upon having paralysed the spider with her sting, will drag the spider to a carefully prepared burrow for the purpose of providing a larder for her larva. Scale this operation up, and it's equivalent to a human being dragging an elephant home for lunch.

Then, of course, there are the various Attine ants in South America, of which the Genus Atta simply contains the best documented instances. These are the Leaf Cutter Ants, that send out long patrols of worker ants, which then cut pieces of leaf to bring back to the nest. Not as food for themselves, but to provide compost upon which their actual food - a species of fungus - grows. Yes, these ants engage in farming.

Among other invertebrates, we have such delights as this little fellow. Say hello to Lysmata amboinensis. This is a small shrimp, reaching about 10 cm in length, which makes its living by picking parasites off fishes and eating them. Yes, it's a cleaner shrimp. Which displays bright colouration in order to advertise its services to various fishes, so that instead of being eaten by those fishes, the shrimp will find itself with a customer presenting itself for cleaning.

Then there's this critter. You'll see the shrimp in question to the left of the bright yellow fish. This is one of the pistol shrimps of the Genus Alpheus, which is almost completely blind. How does a blind shrimp avoid being eaten by any of dozens of reef fishes waiting to make a meal of it? Simple. It sets up a home with a fish as a watchdog, and there are dozens of Gobies that provide this service, belonging to Genera such as Amblyeleotris, Cryptocentrus, Ctenogobiops, Istigobius and Stonogobiops[/i]. However, my copy of Burgess' Mini-Atlas of Marine Aquarium Fishes also illustrates two other Goby species, namely Lotilia graciliosa and Mahidolia mystacina, complete with attendant shrimps. The shrimp has a watchdog keeping an eye out for dangerous predators, and in return, uses its powerful excavating claws to dig a burrow within which both organisms live, the shrimp being capable of digging to a far better extent than the Goby, and during the excavation process, the shrimp also unearths a few tasty morsels such as polychaete worms that the Goby can eat. For the record, the fish in the above illustration is Cryptocentrus cinctus.

Some people here have expressed disgust at slugs. How about their marine relatives, the nudibranchs? These exhibit some amazing capabilities. How about this little beauty? Say hello to Glaucus atlanticus, a pelagic nudibranch that has evolved a neat way of protecting itself from attack. It eats the cnidoblasts (stinging cells) of venomous Cnidarians, such as Physalia, the Portuguese Man-O-War. However, it doesn't digest these, instead, it passes the cnidoblasts undigested, through special chambers in its gut, and then relocates the cnidoblasts in its own external appendages, in effect 'stealing' the defence of the cnidarian.

However, if you think that's a clever trick, how about Tridachia crispata, the Lettuce Sea Slug? This is a herbivore with a difference. It eats various marine macroalgae, but, it leaves the chloroplasts of the foodplant undigested, and passes them to its own surface tissues, where it harnesses them as an additional energy source. Here's a picture of one. Another one is this one, Placida cf. dendritica :

Oh, and like most other gastropods, these things are hermaphrodites, possessing both male and female reproductive organs, and mating (which takes about 12 hours) usually results in both individuals producing fertile eggs.

Returning to insects and spiders, I'd like to show a couple of images that should take your breath away. For example, a nice spider known as Poecilotheria metallica, which is at the top of Gallstones' wish list. Now if you saw a parrot with that colour scheme, you'd think it was beautiful, wouldn't you? So why not a spider?

Likewise, here's a beetle for you to look at. Once again, if you saw a tropical bird with that colouration, you'd have no hesitation in expressing admiration for it, so why not a beetle?

And of course, I can't leave any discussion on insect beauty unfinished without pointing everyone at this ... :mrgreen:

That beauty is Morpho rhetenor from Suriname and Peru. Over at RDF I presented the scientific paper explaining the mechanism by which its scales amplify light via constructive interference, in order to appear so iridescent. Trust me, you haven't lived until you've seen a real one. :)
Signature temporarily on hold until I can find a reliable image host ...
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Re: Killing insects

#123  Postby LIFE » Mar 24, 2010 2:57 am

Argh again with the bluish spider! :lol: Dammit!
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Re: Killing insects

#124  Postby The_Piper » Mar 24, 2010 3:06 am

I was looking for fossils and found this little beetle, about 1/4" long. He's pretty cool. :P
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Re: Killing insects

#125  Postby Gallstones » Mar 24, 2010 3:29 am

NineBerry wrote:
Gallstones wrote:Wait a minute, pain, by definition would be those sensations that are unpleasant and that induce an organism to move away from or avoid the source or cause of the pain.


If you want to define it that way. Your definition is not so good though, because it already contains the idea of "unpleasantness" whereas that is the real question we are discussing: Can insects really feel "unpleasant" or "discomfort"?

What I say is that an organism can have mechanism that trigger a reaction to certain stimuli without actually feeling anything about it. Insects simply don't have the capacity to be "aware" of much anything.


I will concede that I am assuming a perception or experience of "unpleasantness" and can't prove that there is such a perception in an insect. However, I don't think you can assume there is none either. So I go by observation. And what I observe is an awareness of the environment and of at least the proprioceptive self present in an insect. Grasshoppers try to get away when I try to catch them and Nora gave the example of a twisted antennae.

If I understand correctly you are saying that these behaviors are nothing more than responses to stimuli but that there is no other experience going on. I am not willing to assume that myself. Call me what you like, but I'm, not. It is enough that I experience unpleasantness (by proxy? misplaced empathy?) observing the behaviors. I'd rather err in my assessment than in yours.


NineBerry wrote:
Gallstones wrote:So if an organism has the capacity to be aware of the different qualities of sensations such that there are some that are desirable and some that are to be avoided, then splitting hairs about whether "feeling" equates to "suffering" is moot.


So, a robot with a heat sensor that is programmed to move away when there is too much heat is suffering when you apply heat to him? And it would be unethical to do so?
Nope. A robot is a device. I have a bias for life in that I have empathy for living things that I do not have for machines. However, I am uncomfortable with wanton destructiveness regardless upon what is directed.


NineBerry wrote:Have you ever watched insects deal with dangerous situations? They certainly don't seem to avoid them. A fly surrounding a hit light bulb will constantly hit it. It won't stop it because touching the hot bulb "hurts".
In the case of a light bulb, the stimulus of the light is saying something different to the fly than a true threat like a predator does. They still react appropriately to the stimulus of a potential predator. The imperative of the light bulb stimulates a behavior that overrides being "hurt" as consequence to following that imperative. I'm not claiming that insects have as complex neurology as a mammal. But I am unwilling to assume they have so little complexity that what they do experience can be disregarded or equated with having none.



NineBerry wrote:
Gallstones wrote:A perception of pain is a perception of pain and if pain can be perceived then the organism can be made to experience unpleasantness. I don't think trying to quantify unpleasantness gives the infliction of pain a pass.


So playing video games is unethical?


Where did I say that? I was never talking about non-living or virtual characters.
I don't even play video games. Tis true.
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Re: Killing insects

#126  Postby Gallstones » Mar 24, 2010 3:36 am

@ Calilasseia

Oooooooh! So pretty.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I've got a spider.

A bug,
Image

A little metallic green bee on an aster.
Image

It might be that I am an artist and see things as an artist does. But when I encounter an insect I want to get a close look at it, look at their patterns and colors because they are often quite detailed and marvelous. I can't imagine preferring to remain ignorant of that. My first thought is never, "kill it". But my second is usually, "Shit, I wish I had my camera or a jar to put it in".

And guess what, they are my own photos so no bandwidth or copyright issues.
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Re: Killing insects

#127  Postby Mantisdreamz » Mar 24, 2010 3:53 am

From Calilasseia's post:
Image

Amazing.

Entomologist?, awesome. :)

Even these guys are fascinating - ear mites:

Image

Working at a vet clinic, we used to watch these things under the microscope, and I was amazed to see the way they take the ear wax with their little 'paws' and stuff it inside their bodies. Probably the closest I've been to examining anything like that. It looked as if they scooped up the wax/food and stuffed it into the sides of their body - almost as if there were more than one 'mouth' on the creature. I'm not sure if that was a correct observation though.
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Re: Killing insects

#128  Postby The_Piper » Mar 24, 2010 4:05 am

I don't think spiders are insects, but they seem pretty conscious to me. Some will try hide if I come within several feet of them.
The hiding and not just blindly running away, seems to indicate an awareness of themselves. I almost never kill them.
When ants or flies are accidentally maimed by me instead of killed, they still seem to be concerned with their "mission". I haven't done any real observations on that though :lol:
There must be extensive literature available about studies done with insects and pain.

Whatever the truth is, I'll stick with killing the bugs that pose a direct threat to me. I trap mice and I'm sure they are conscious, reasonably intelligent, and capable of tremendous suffering. They will also continue to poop and pee on my dishes if I let them go. The same is true for the ants and flies coming in the house. It's a health hazard. I feel very bad about killing them, but I can't just ask them to leave. Sometimes it's either me or them.
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Re: Killing insects

#129  Postby paceetrate » Mar 24, 2010 6:41 am

Gallstones wrote:
I will concede that I am assuming a perception or experience of "unpleasantness" and can't prove that there is such a perception in an insect. However, I don't think you can assume there is none either. So I go by observation. And what I observe is an awareness of the environment and of at least the proprioceptive self present in an insect. Grasshoppers try to get away when I try to catch them and Nora gave the example of a twisted antennae.

If I understand correctly you are saying that these behaviors are nothing more than responses to stimuli but that there is no other experience going on. I am not willing to assume that myself. Call me what you like, but I'm, not. It is enough that I experience unpleasantness (by proxy? misplaced empathy?) observing the behaviors. I'd rather err in my assessment than in yours.


It reminds me (disturbingly) of how some people used to view all living things except humans: as unfeeling automatons, running purely on their programming, only acting as if they experienced the world around them.

I also find it very improbable that insects don't have some perception of pain. Pain is relatively simple and yet so vital to the survival of living things. If pain cannot be experienced in some form, what incentive does a creature have to get away from or stop something that is injuring it? Pain is an incredibly useful adaptation.


Nineberry, there is a rule among nurses: pain is whatever the patient says it is. It doesn't matter if you think your patient is so mentally handicapped that he can't possibly be experiencing any level of pain, or if you even think that something can't possibly be hurting as much as your patient says it is. If the patient is giving all signs of being in pain, you must assume they are in pain. Because to not assume that, and to continue on ignoring them, and to find out later that you were wrong, would be inexcusable to say the least. You cannot know for certain what anybody besides yourself is truly experiencing, especially when it comes to pain, so you must err on the side of caution.

So if I pour salt on a slug, and it writhes and contorts until it's dead, I see no reason to believe that it wasn't experiencing pain on some level. What other reason is there to writhe and contort in the presence of an unavoidable and deadly noxious substance?
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Re: Killing insects

#130  Postby tnjrp » Mar 24, 2010 7:03 am

The_Piper wrote:I don't think spiders are insects
No, they definitely aren't.

they seem pretty conscious to me. Some will try hide if I come within several feet of them. The hiding and not just blindly running away, seems to indicate an awareness of themselves
I would think almost all animals with any kind of nervous system, including spiders, are rudimentary conscious in the way they perceive themselves as discrete from the environment. What they each do with this perception depends on the type of animal and even on the individual. Still, I wouldn't assume deeper insights into their nature and role in the cosmos, obviously.
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Re: Killing insects

#131  Postby HughMcB » Mar 24, 2010 2:32 pm

Calilasseia,

Those beasts are amazing, truly beautiful and surely possess many characteristics which outshine any of ours by miles.

I was wondering if anyone could quickly answer me though... thinking about a comment made by Cali...

Calilasseia wrote:Oh, and like most other gastropods, these things are hermaphrodites, possessing both male and female reproductive organs, and mating (which takes about 12 hours) usually results in both individuals producing fertile eggs.

If we know that sexual reproduction is beneficial for some forms of life as it produces greater genetic diversity and can "speed up" evolution, and these animals both end up producing fertile eggs after knockin' hermaphroditic boots. Why would other, larger animals not take advantage of this?

It seems like incorporating sexual reproduction and a hermaphroditic ability for every individual to become pregnant would be a serious advantage, no? Obviously there is a very logical simple explanation as to why not but I wouldn't mind someone pointing it out! :grin:
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Re: Killing insects

#132  Postby The_Piper » Mar 24, 2010 2:45 pm

Not to stray too far off-topic, but I think it does happen fairly often in the animal kingdom. It does with plants.
My guess as to why more large animals didn't take on the role, is possibly something to do with sexual selection in the distant past.

Edited for clarity
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Re: Killing insects

#133  Postby Aern Rakesh » Mar 24, 2010 5:09 pm

CdeLosada wrote:

I don't know whether insects feel pain, but if they don't it's not because they are not conscious beings but because the mechanism that makes them react to dangerous stimuli does not rely on pain to be triggered.


Very well put and thought provoking. For some reason it made me think that different organisms could experience different levels of consciousness as well as intermittent consciousness. So why couldn't insects have, at times, flashes of consciousness when required?
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Re: Killing insects

#134  Postby Rollerlocked » Mar 24, 2010 5:36 pm

Rescued from a bird bath:
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Re: Killing insects

#135  Postby XiledSpawn » Mar 24, 2010 7:34 pm

Brainstorming :think:

- Because they can, with minimal effort to boot, they know there is no chance they are going to get hurt themselves, however bigger pests tend to fight back. Some people are just dicks basically.

- Aversion to Gore, bigger animals make a mess which can be sickening. Bugs obviously just leave a blob of paste under your shoe with no smell of blood.

- Social constructs, bigger animals are more likely to be a pet of someone nearby, and while they might not care for the animal, they care for the people it may belong to enough to not kill it.

- Hypocrites, they claim living things are important when really they just like the cute stuff that don't annoy them.

- Deemed threat, maybe their not hypocrites and they would kill a bigger animal, if it was actually deemed as a threat, they just havn't run into one yet, why having venom and sitting on the other side of the room is a bigger threat then any animal with claws and teeth, (daggers attached to adorable balls of fluff that have territory issues, rabies possibly included, it'll keep the whole family guessing, not suitable for ages three and up) aren't deemed as an immediate threat is beyond me.

- They don't think they are animals, Ignorance? what more could I say :eh:

- Being that guy, should probably be with social construct but more of a fear of being the bad guy, even if they kill it humanely, what would the neighbours think, even if you don't like them you don't want the label of being that guy who kills fluffy animals, what if one is a big pro life nutter, they would probably call the police or media, and nobody wants to go through all that crap if it can be avoided. (Headlines! Local resident at nowhere motel snaps defensless field mouses neck!, in other news nowhere motel has been overrun with field mice causing property damage to residents.)

it's 5am and Iv'e been making these up off the top of my head for fun, really I have no idea.
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Re: Killing insects

#136  Postby CdeLosada » Mar 24, 2010 7:42 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:
CdeLosada wrote:

I don't know whether insects feel pain, but if they don't it's not because they are not conscious beings but because the mechanism that makes them react to dangerous stimuli does not rely on pain to be triggered.


Very well put and thought provoking. For some reason it made me think that different organisms could experience different levels of consciousness as well as intermittent consciousness. So why couldn't insects have, at times, flashes of consciousness when required?

Thanks, although your comment made see that I didn’t put it so well after all… I didn’t mean to say that insects are conscious. I don’t think they are. I should have written: If insects don’t feel pain it’s not because of the fact that they are not conscious beings, but because the mechanism… etc.

You posit an interesting idea, though.
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Re: Killing insects

#137  Postby Aern Rakesh » Mar 24, 2010 7:50 pm

CdeLosada wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:
CdeLosada wrote:

I don't know whether insects feel pain, but if they don't it's not because they are not conscious beings but because the mechanism that makes them react to dangerous stimuli does not rely on pain to be triggered.


Very well put and thought provoking. For some reason it made me think that different organisms could experience different levels of consciousness as well as intermittent consciousness. So why couldn't insects have, at times, flashes of consciousness when required?

Thanks, although your comment made see that I didn’t put it so well after all… I didn’t mean to say that insects are conscious. I don’t think they are. I should have written: If insects don’t feel pain it’s not because of the fact that they are not conscious, but because the mechanism… etc.

You posit an interesting idea, though.


:smile: I obviously don't believe that insects are in the "I think therefore I am" level of consciousness. But like I said, what you said (or what I thought you said) made me think that surely there could be minute levels of consciousness that an insect would be capable of, if not continuously maybe intermittently.

I love sparrows. There's a time of day when they congregate in the bushes and chatter away to each other. If you are just walking past they just keep talking, but if you stop and look in their direction they'll freeze. It's like, before that moment, the human world doesn't feature in the sparrow world. I guess what I'm trying to say is maybe we can't shrink down small enough to appreciate insect consciousness.
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Re: Killing insects

#138  Postby CdeLosada » Mar 24, 2010 8:41 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:
CdeLosada wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:
CdeLosada wrote:

I don't know whether insects feel pain, but if they don't it's not because they are not conscious beings but because the mechanism that makes them react to dangerous stimuli does not rely on pain to be triggered.


Very well put and thought provoking. For some reason it made me think that different organisms could experience different levels of consciousness as well as intermittent consciousness. So why couldn't insects have, at times, flashes of consciousness when required?

Thanks, although your comment made see that I didn’t put it so well after all… I didn’t mean to say that insects are conscious. I don’t think they are. I should have written: If insects don’t feel pain it’s not because of the fact that they are not conscious, but because the mechanism… etc.

You posit an interesting idea, though.


:smile: I obviously don't believe that insects are in the "I think therefore I am" level of consciousness. But like I said, what you said (or what I thought you said) made me think that surely there could be minute levels of consciousness that an insect would be capable of, if not continuously maybe intermittently.

I love sparrows. There's a time of day when they congregate in the bushes and chatter away to each other. If you are just walking past they just keep talking, but if you stop and look in their direction they'll freeze. It's like, before that moment, the human world doesn't feature in the sparrow world. I guess what I'm trying to say is maybe we can't shrink down small enough to appreciate insect consciousness.

All I’ll say is that I love sparrows too. No, really, I see your point: How could we know for sure what goes on in the brain of the “lower” animals, insects included? How are we to tell exactly how they perceive the world and their place in it? I still have strong reservations about insects’ experiencing any kind of consciousness, but in more “brainy” and social animals it’s probably just a matter of degree. Why wouldn’t a chimp have some sort of consciousness? As to sparrows…, ditto!
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Re: Killing insects

#139  Postby NineBerry » Mar 27, 2010 10:49 pm


IT IS now possible to hear plants scream. Physicists at the University of Bonn have developed a device that listens to the stress responses of household plants. They hope it will reveal what makes so many geranium seedlings die after the long trip to Germany from their nurseries in the Mediterranean.

When plants are under stress, because of drought or exposure to salt, ozone and cold, they emit ethylene gas

[...]

Frank Kühnemann, one of the researchers, says that the Bonn team has so far have measured stress levels in tobacco plants deprived of water and exposed to high levels of ozone. Kühnemann hopes that horticulturalists will now use the device to identify which conditions such as vibration and temperature kill fragile geranium seedlings in transit.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg1 ... -help.html

;)
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Re: Killing insects

#140  Postby CdeLosada » May 06, 2020 5:17 pm

NineBerry wrote:
CdeLosada wrote:What about a newborn baby?


A newborn baby is conscious, on a lot lower level than an adult but it is. I wouldn't want to hurt any other mammal, either. I don't mind abortion on the other hand, as long as the brain of the foetus hasn't evolved so far that there is potential for consciousness.

paceetrate wrote:So even though they show all the signs of experiencing pain, if a person was brain damaged enough that you thought they weren't really experiencing pain, you wouldn't mind inflicting harm on them.

I hope to hell you never become a doctor or a nurse.


I'd have to pretty sure. But please explain what your problem with that is. Imagine: The small brain and the larger brain are without function. What exactly is the harm caused then?

Gallstones wrote:Wait a minute, pain, by definition would be those sensations that are unpleasant and that induce an organism to move away from or avoid the source or cause of the pain.


If you want to define it that way. Your definition is not so good though, because it already contains the idea of "unpleasantness" whereas that is the real question we are discussing: Can insects really feel "unpleasant" or "discomfort"?

What I say is that an organism can have mechanism that trigger a reaction to certain stimuli without actually feeling anything about it. Insects simply don't have the capacity to be "aware" of much anything.

Gallstones wrote:So if an organism has the capacity to be aware of the different qualities of sensations such that there are some that are desirable and some that are to be avoided, then splitting hairs about whether "feeling" equates to "suffering" is moot.


So, a robot with a heat sensor that is programmed to move away when there is too much heat is suffering when you apply heat to him? And it would be unethical to do so?

Have you ever watched insects deal with dangerous situations? They certainly don't seem to avoid them. A fly surrounding a hit light bulb will constantly hit it. It won't stop it because touching the hot bulb "hurts".

Gallstones wrote:A perception of pain is a perception of pain and if pain can be perceived then the organism can be made to experience unpleasantness. I don't think trying to quantify unpleasantness gives the infliction of pain a pass.


So playing video games is unethical?

I’ve been thinking of your posts here for the last 10 years. :) As far as animals like insects are concerned, I’ve come to the conclusion that you’re right, although for slightly different reasons. What I think now is that higher-order consciousness seems necessary to suffer, even if an actual painful stimulus is present. The reason is that an insect, even if it were capable of feeling the sensation of pain, would be incapable of suffering from it, because probably each nanosecond of pain would be felt as unique and independent from the others, even if the painful stimulus were continuous. And a nanosecond is like nothing... I develop the idea a bit further here: https://medium.com/@cdelosada/pain-and- ... 1df2e33852
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