(Modified from a post to a mailing list.)
I don’t think humans have the means of detecting that nonhumans (or specific forms of humans) lack these kinds of (“secondary”) feelings. It wasn’t just that I thought Temple Grandin lacked the expertise, it was that I think that people lack the ability to determine that someone can’t feel something — except ourselves.
There’s usually an assumption that most people take for granted about animals (and about specific kinds of humans, including very young humans and many kinds of disabled humans), that… they’re basically as close to a blank state as we can possibly get without denying something that’s too obvious to deny. And so instead of figuring “these feelings are possible”, we feel that each and every feeling they feel (as well as their intellectual abilities and self-awareness) must be proven by rigorous scientific method.
That’s coming at it backwards. There should be really really good evidence those things are not there before we start assuming that they aren’t. (And often that should be on a case-by-case basis.) And really good evidence means really good evidence — not what passes for “evidence” in a culture that already views certain kinds of beings as as blank as we can feasibly paint them as.
(I’m not saying there aren’t humans without certain experiences. The amount of enormous holes in my understanding/experience of the world (both growing up and later) compared to usual understandings of the world is truly astounding to me even compared to many other autistic people I’ve known. I’m just saying, that’s not an assumption we should be making about entire categories of people, even categories we happen to belong to, let alone categories so obviously different that assumptions should come harder, not easier.)
Plus… for instance, I look at cats, and I see that they have realms of experience entirely closed off to humans. That’s rarely acknowledged either — humans are seen as the “full” form and then cats (and other nonhumans) are seen as having like… certain chunks out of the (“full, human”) experience and then blankness everywhere else. There are undoubtedly animals with feelings humans don’t have, and life forms with experiences of the world so different from humans that we don’t think they have experiences at all. (Because we start from human as “the full experience of the world” and work “backwards” through animals and various atypical humans.) That’s just a really warped understanding of the world, yet a lot of humans seem to take it for granted.
(And in so doing, they miss the vast amount of feline communication that it is possible for them to decipher, because they’re too busy thinking over the top of it to notice the subtlety of it.)