Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

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Brian Key, Why fish do not feel pain


Do fish consciously feel pain? Addressing this question, Key (2016) asks whether the neural mechanisms underlying conscious pain reports in humans can be identified in fish. This strategy fails in three ways. First, non-mammalian consciousness — if it exists — may depend on different mechanisms. Second, accumulating neurophysiological and behavioural evidence, evolutionary considerations, and emerging Bayesian brain theories suggest that if fish can feel at all, they can feel pain. Finally, the qualitative nature of pain and suffering obliges us, via the precautionary principle, to accommodate the possibility of its existence where doubt remains.

Author Biography

Anil K. Seth a.k.seth@sussex.ac.uk is Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience and Co-Director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at the University of Sussex. www.anilseth.com