International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 35, Issue 1, Spring 2021

Matan Shelomi
Pages 31-43

Pain, Suffering, and Euthanasia in Insects

While unnecessarily killing or injuring an insect is arguably wrong, euthanasia of an accidentally injured insect raises anew issues of whether insects can experience pain. The question takes renewed significance due to increasing insect farming for food and feed and concerns over farmed insect welfare. For euthanasia of a damaged insect to be justifiable, the damage must be sensed as a noxious stimulus (nociception) that the insect consciously experiences as pain. This pain must then lead to suffering or frustrated desire, with the possibility of the animal preferring death to continued existence. A failure at any of these points would deem euthanasia moot. The neurological, behavioral, and evolutionary evidence so far suggests the concept of euthanasia does not apply to insects.

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