Workshop on Animal Pain, York University in Toronto (11. Januar 2013)

Whether any nonhuman animal experiences pain or has experiences similar to humans is highly controversial. This conference will bring together psychologists and philosophers interested in pain and conscious experience in animals, particularly mammals. Most of the arguments presented in favor of phenomenal pain experience in mammals are arguments from analogy: they emphasize the similarity between the behavior, neural activations, and nociception in humans and other mammals, and even present evolutionary suggestions for the connection between social cognition and pain processes. Those skeptical of analogical arguments typically stress the differences between other mammals and humans. These views are sometimes presented at the neurophysiological level, but are more often aimed at higher cognitive levels of analysis, and the arguments challenge the existence of certain cognitive abilities in animals which are seen as necessary for experiencing pain; classical candidates are self consciousness, the ability for language, empathy, and “theory of mind”. Another group of skeptics argue that the question of conscious pain in non-human animals cannot, in principle, be accessed empirically, because no methodology is available to approach it. This interdisciplinary workshop investigates these issues and the possibilities of overcoming thorny methodological problems in studying animal pain and consciousness.

Please note: The capacity of the workshop is limited to 35 participants. Priority will therefore be given to those who are actively involved in relevant research and who will present a poster. Details on poster submission can be found below.
Colin Allen (Department of Philosophy, University of Indiana)
Kristin Andrews (Department of Philosophy, York University)
Verena Gottschling (Department of Philosophy, York University)
Suzanne McDonald (Department of Psychology, York University)
Anne Russon (Department of Psychology, York University, Glendon)
Adam Shriver (The Rotman Institute of Philosophy, University of Western Ontario)

Registration/Poster submission: If you would like to present a poster at the workshop please submit a short abstract of no more then 500 words to Verena Gottschling ( by Dec 10, 2012. If you would like to attend the workshop without presenting a poster please send an e-mail to the above address, indicating how your research is relevant to the topic of the workshop. Successful applicants will be sent an invitation to attend by December 18, 2012 for poster presenters. There will be no conference fee and all participants will be invited to the conference reception on January 11th.

Organization: Verena Gottschling. The meeting is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation as part of a network grant from the European Platform for Life Sciences, Mind Sciences, and the Humanities, and the Department of Philosophy at York University