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Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

Author Website

www.jonathanbalcombe.com

Commentary Type

Invited Commentary

Thread

Brian Key, Why fish do not feel pain

Abstract

I present a little-known example of flexible, opportunistic behavior by a species of fish to undermine Key’s (2016) thesis that fish are unconscious and unable to feel. Lack of a cortex is flimsy grounds for denying pain to fish, for on that criterion we must also then deny it to all non-mammals, including birds, which goes against scientific consensus. Notwithstanding science’s fundamental inability to prove anything, the precautionary principal dictates that we should give the benefit of the doubt to fish, and the state of the oceans dictates that we act on it now.

Author Biography

Jonathan Balcombe jbalcombe@humanesociety.org is Director for Animal Sentience at the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy in Washington, DC. He has published over 50 scientific papers on animal behavior and animal protection. Jonathan has written four books, with the most recent, What a Fish Knows, scheduled for publication in 2016. www.jonathanbalcombe.com