Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

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Brian Key, Why fish do not feel pain


Debate about the possibility of fish pain focuses largely on the fish’s lack of the cortex considered necessary for generating pain. That view is appealing because it avoids relatively abstract debate about the nature of pain experience and subjectivity. Unfortunately, however, that debate cannot be entirely avoided. Subcortical circuits in the fish might support an immediate, raw, “pain” experience. The necessity of the cortex only becomes obvious when considering pain as an explicitly felt subjective experience. Attributing pain to fish only seems absurd when pain is considered as a state of explicit knowing.

Author Biography

Stuart W. G. Derbyshire psydswg@nus.edu.sg is an Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore in the Department of Psychology and the A*STAR-NUS Clinical Imaging Research Centre. His main research interest is the neurobiology of pain, especially as it relates to issues of consciousness, subjectivity and ongoing pain in the absence of injury. http://www.fas.nus.edu.sg/psy/_people/derbyshire.htm