Burghardt, Gordon (2016) Mediating claims through critical anthropomorphism. Animal Sentience 3(17)
Brian Key, Why fish do not feel pain
Key’s (2016) discussion of his claim that fish do not feel pain ignores the history of attempts to study the attribution of mental states to other species. Although willing to accept that mammals feel pain, Key claims that fish lack the mammalian neural mechanisms underlying pain and are unconscious of their experiences. Consequently, we do not need to be overly concerned about fishing practices that would otherwise be viewed as painful. Key uses a flawed anthropomorphic lens. All attributions of mental events to organisms other than oneself involve inferences derived from anthropomorphic processes through which we process physiological and behavioral data. To do this effectively we need to employ a critical anthropomorphism incorporating our experiences as sentient beings along with diverse scientific findings, avoiding claims that some types of data always trump other considerations.