Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

Commentary Type

Invited Commentary


Brian Key, Why fish do not feel pain


In discussing fish pain, Key (2016) privileges pain in humans — “the only species able to directly report on its feelings.” Human experience of pain is not necessarily best reflected by verbal self-report, however. Neural responses to noxious stimuli are influenced by individual differences and by context. Nonverbal pain displays such as facial expressions reflect part of the neural response to noxious stimuli. Most mammals have a specific facial grimace reflecting pain. If fish have a somatic expression of pain, the development of a reliable and accurate somatic pain scale specific to fish could make a contribution to the debate about fish pain.

Author Biography

Simon van Rysewyk simon@rirl.org, based in Singapore, does medical writing for the Observational and Pragmatic Research Institute. He is University Associate at the Department of Philosophy, University of Tasmania. He is interested in the impact of perceived meanings on patient-reported pain outcomes. https://rmdb.research.utas.edu.au/public/rmdb/q/indiv_detail_warp_trans/26207