The experience of pain can be referred verbally by human subjects and, although this criterion is considered during scientific and medical procedures, it appears evident that the same principle cannot be applied to other species. Thus, pain in animals is usually inferred by non-verbal behaviors, but this inference is not, or should not be that simple to make. In the present work available philosophical, ethological and neuroscientific resources about the experience of pain in humans and animals will be reviewed, to explore continuities and specificities by a comparative perspective. Also, a new framework will be proposed to highlight some significant behaviors related to pain experience within the animal kingdom. In detail, we suggest that by observing and analyzing complex emotional and social (shared) experiences related to pain it would be possible to infer, at least in some cases, the presence of a subjective experience of pain.
- Emotions, animals, human being, empathy