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Full-Text Articles in Philosophy

What Would The Babel Fish Say?, Monica Gagliano Jan 2016

What Would The Babel Fish Say?, Monica Gagliano

Animal Sentience

Starting with its title, Key’s (2016) target article advocates the view that fish do not feel pain. The author describes the neuroanatomical, physiological and behavioural conditions involved in the experience of pain in humans and rodents and confidently applies analogical arguments as though they were established facts in support of the negative conclusion about the inability of fish to feel pain. The logical reasoning, unfortunately, becomes somewhat incoherent, with the arbitrary application of the designated human criteria for an analogical argument to one animal species (e.g., rodents) but not another (fish). Research findings are reported selectively, and questionable ...


Pain In Parallel, Peter Godfrey-Smith Jan 2016

Pain In Parallel, Peter Godfrey-Smith

Animal Sentience

Key's (2016) arguments against the view that fish feel pain can be shown to be fallacious by considering some damage-related behaviors in invertebrates. Pain may have different neural bases in different organisms, so the absence in fish of the cortical structures that might underlie pain in mammals does not settle the question of fish pain.


Brain Processes For “Good” And “Bad” Feelings: How Far Back In Evolution?, Jaak Panksepp Jan 2016

Brain Processes For “Good” And “Bad” Feelings: How Far Back In Evolution?, Jaak Panksepp

Animal Sentience

The question of whether fish can experience pain or any other feelings can only be resolved by neurobiologically targeted experiments. This commentary summarizes why this is essential for resolving scientific debates about consciousness in other animals, and offers specific experiments that need to be done: (i) those that evaluate the rewarding and punishing effects of specific brain regions and systems (for instance, with deep-brain stimulation); (ii) those that evaluate the capacity of animals to regulate their affective states; and (iii) those that have direct implications for human affective feelings, with specific predictions — for instance, the development of new treatments for ...


Why Babies Do Not Feel Pain, Or: How Structure-Derived Functional Interpretations Can Go Wrong, Helmut Segner Jan 2016

Why Babies Do Not Feel Pain, Or: How Structure-Derived Functional Interpretations Can Go Wrong, Helmut Segner

Animal Sentience

The response to pain involves a non-conscious, reflexive action and a conscious perception. According to Key (2016), consciousness — and thus pain perception — depends on a neuronal correlate that has a “unique neural architecture” as realized in the human cortex. On the basis of the “bioengineering principle that structure determines function,” Key (2016) concludes that animal species such as fish, which lack the requisite cortex-like neuroanatomical structure, are unable to feel pain. This commentary argues that the relationship between brain structure and brain function is less straightforward than suggested in Key’s target article.


Cortex Necessary For Pain — But Not In Sense That Matters, Adam J. Shriver Jan 2016

Cortex Necessary For Pain — But Not In Sense That Matters, Adam J. Shriver

Animal Sentience

Certain cortical regions are necessary for pain in humans in the sense that, at particular times, they play a direct role in pain. However, it is not true that they are necessary in the more important sense that pain is never possible in humans without them. There are additional details from human lesion studies concerning functional plasticity that undermine Key’s (2016) interpretation. Moreover, no one has yet identified any specific behaviors that mammalian cortical pain regions make possible that are absent in fish.


Nonverbal Indicators Of Pain, Simon Van Rysewyk Jan 2016

Nonverbal Indicators Of Pain, Simon Van Rysewyk

Animal Sentience

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 ...


Could Fish Feel Pain? A Wider Perspective, Yew-Kwang Ng Jan 2016

Could Fish Feel Pain? A Wider Perspective, Yew-Kwang Ng

Animal Sentience

Key’s (2016) target article provides some strong arguments but also makes some logical mistakes. The arguments are not sufficient to support a definite conclusion that fish cannot feel pain. A multi-faceted perspective taking into account brain structure, chemical secretion in brain, animal behavior, and evolutionary biology may be useful and appears, at least in some aspects, to suggest the opposite conclusion from that of the target article.



Falsifying The Null Hypothesis That “Fish Do Not Feel Pain", Brian Key Jan 2016

Falsifying The Null Hypothesis That “Fish Do Not Feel Pain", Brian Key

Animal Sentience

The reader of Animal Sentience may surmise that because the weight of the commentaries on my target article, “Why fish do not feel pain,” is leaning towards not supporting my argument, it follows that the premise "fish do not feel pain" is incorrect. However, science does not prevail by popular opinion. History is plagued with numerous (and often widely accepted) examples of biological phenomena being explained by mysterious forces. In the absence of a mechanistic understanding, the many different guises of vitalism (the principle that life involves a vital energy) are often invoked to explain the unknown. Spurious assumptions tend ...


Linking Animal Ethics And Animal Welfare Science, Sue Donaldson, Will Kymlicka Jan 2016

Linking Animal Ethics And Animal Welfare Science, Sue Donaldson, Will Kymlicka

Animal Sentience

Broom (2014) argues that theories of animal ethics need to be better informed by the findings of animal welfare science. We agree, but argue that animal welfare science in turn may need to ask different questions. To date it has largely assumed that society will continue to treat domesticated animals as a caste group that exists to serve us, and that animal welfare is to be improved within that legal and political framework. We offer an alternative model of human-animal relations, and discuss what kind of animal welfare science it would require.


How Welfare Biology And Commonsense May Help To Reduce Animal Suffering, Yew-Kwang Ng Jan 2016

How Welfare Biology And Commonsense May Help To Reduce Animal Suffering, Yew-Kwang Ng

Animal Sentience

Welfare biology is the study of the welfare of living things. Welfare is net happiness (enjoyment minus suffering). Since this necessarily involves feelings, Dawkins (2014) has suggested that animal welfare science may face a paradox, because feelings are very difficult to study. The following paper provides an explanation for how welfare biology could help to reduce this paradox by answering some difficult questions regarding animal welfare. Simple means based on commonsense could reduce animal suffering enormously at low or even negative costs to humans. Ways to increase the influence of animal welfare advocates are also discussed, focusing initially on farmed ...


Animal Suffering Calls For More Than A Bigger Cage, Simon R. B. Leadbeater Jan 2016

Animal Suffering Calls For More Than A Bigger Cage, Simon R. B. Leadbeater

Animal Sentience

Ng (2016) argues for incremental welfare biology partly because it would be impossible to demonstrate conclusively that animals are sentient. He argues that low cost changes in industrial practices and working collaboratively may be more effective in advancing animal welfare than more adversarial approaches. There is merit in some of Ng’s recommendations but a number of his arguments are, in my view, misdirected. The fact that nonhuman animals feel has already been adequately demonstrated. Cruelty to animals is intrinsic to some industries, so the only way to oppose it is to oppose the industry.


Why Animal Welfarism Continues To Fail, Lori Marino Jan 2016

Why Animal Welfarism Continues To Fail, Lori Marino

Animal Sentience

Welfarism prioritizes human interests over the needs of nonhuman animals. Despite decades of welfare efforts other animals are mostly worse off than ever before, being subjected to increasingly invasive and harmful treatments, especially in the factory farming and biomedical research areas. A legal rights-based approach is essential in order for other animals to be protected from the varying ethical whims of our species.


End-State Welfarism, Joel Marks Jan 2016

End-State Welfarism, Joel Marks

Animal Sentience

Yew-Kwang Ng’s research is the work of an obviously sincere, intelligent, and conscientious animal advocate. But I am unable to accept his starting assumption that animal welfare is an appropriate basis for animal ethics. More specifically I argue that animal welfare as a means to animal liberation is an issue that can be debated, but animal welfare as the ultimate end or goal of animal advocacy is misguided.


Animal Mourning: Précis Of How Animals Grieve (King 2013), Barbara J. King Jan 2016

Animal Mourning: Précis Of How Animals Grieve (King 2013), Barbara J. King

Animal Sentience

Abstract: When an animal dies, that individual’s mate, relatives, or friends may express grief. Changes in the survivor’s patterns of social behavior, eating, sleeping, and/or of expression of affect are the key criteria for defining grief. Based on this understanding of grief, it is not only big-brained mammals like elephants, apes, and cetaceans who can be said to mourn, but also a wide variety of other animals, including domestic companions like cats, dogs, and rabbits; horses and farm animals; and some birds. With keen attention placed on seeking where grief is found to occur and where it ...


Understanding Emotional Suffering, Barbara J. King Jan 2016

Understanding Emotional Suffering, Barbara J. King

Animal Sentience

In responding to insightful commentaries from 7 scholars, for which I am grateful, I offer new thoughts on whether animals can conceptualize and express signs of grief. I also discuss why I included both weak and strong examples of animal mourning, and how this work may help us think about enhanced welfare for animals, including freedom from emotional suffering.


Nonhuman Mind-Reading Ability, Marthe Kiley-Worthington Jan 2016

Nonhuman Mind-Reading Ability, Marthe Kiley-Worthington

Animal Sentience

Harnad (2016) is mistaken that humans are better at mind-reading than other species. Humans have context-independent language, but nonhuman species, especially mammals, have context-dependent nonverbal skills – perceptual, communicative and social -- that can be much keener than our own.


Animal Sentience: The Other-Minds Problem, Stevan Harnad Jan 2016

Animal Sentience: The Other-Minds Problem, Stevan Harnad

Animal Sentience

The only feelings we can feel are our own. When it comes to the feelings of others, we can only infer them, based on their behavior — unless they tell us. This is the “other-minds problem.” Within our own species, thanks to language, this problem arises only for states in which people cannot speak (infancy, aphasia, sleep, anaesthesia, coma). Our species also has a uniquely powerful empathic or “mind-reading” capacity: We can (sometimes) perceive from the behavior of others when they are in states like our own. Our inferences have also been systematized and operationalized in biobehavioral science and supplemented by ...


Death In The Family, Maria Botero Jan 2016

Death In The Family, Maria Botero

Animal Sentience

Barbara King presents grief as the result of the capacity of human and non-human animals for social and affectionate bonds. This is a novel approach that provides a context for interpreting behavioral evidence of grief. The book also offers thought-provoking insights into the relationship between emotion and the expression of emotion. The most surprising element of King’s approach is that, throughout the book, her account of non-human animal grief forces us to reassess the way we treat them.


Modulation Of Behavior In Communicating Emotion, Martin Gardiner Jan 2016

Modulation Of Behavior In Communicating Emotion, Martin Gardiner

Animal Sentience

King discusses many examples where two animals, as they bond, behave in ways we interpret as expressing love for one another. If one of the bonded animals then dies, signs of loving are replaced by signs we interpret as expressing grief by the animal who remains. I propose a pathway for emotional communication between an animal and an observer that can have a central role in these and other observations by King and in our overall ability to interpret observed behavior in relation to emotion. This pathway provides evidence of emotion in an observed animal by communicating evidence of emotion ...


The Object Of Grief, Clark Glymour Jan 2016

The Object Of Grief, Clark Glymour

Animal Sentience

King’s new book is a wonderful collection of diverse anecdotes illustrating the variety of animal practices that are convincing illustrations of grief. Those who want scientific arguments for that conclusion should, however, read elsewhere.


Considering Animals’ Feelings: Précis Of Sentience And Animal Welfare (Broom 2014), Donald M. Broom Jan 2016

Considering Animals’ Feelings: Précis Of Sentience And Animal Welfare (Broom 2014), Donald M. Broom

Animal Sentience

The concept of sentience concerns the capacity to have feelings. There is evidence for sophisticated cognitive concepts and for both positive and negative feelings in a wide range of nonhuman animals. All vertebrates, including fish, as well as some molluscs and decapod crustaceans have pain systems. Most people today consider that their moral obligations extend to many animal species. Moral decisions about abortion, euthanasia, and the various ways we protect animals should take into account the research findings about sentience. In addition, all animal life should be respected and studies of the welfare of even the simplest invertebrate animals should ...


Sentience And Animal Welfare: Affirming The Science And Addressing The Skepticism, Nancy Clarke Jan 2016

Sentience And Animal Welfare: Affirming The Science And Addressing The Skepticism, Nancy Clarke

Animal Sentience

Broom’s (2014) book is a well-researched and thoroughly written exploration and evaluation of the journey from the origins of animal welfare science to what we can say we now know and need to consider in relation to animal sentience and welfare. This book will help to counter any skepticism among academics and policy makers.


Is Sentience Only A Nonessential Component Of Animal Welfare?, Ian J.H. Duncan Jan 2016

Is Sentience Only A Nonessential Component Of Animal Welfare?, Ian J.H. Duncan

Animal Sentience

According to Broom (2014), animal welfare is a concept that can be applied to all animals, including single-celled organisms that are obviously not sentient. Such a stance makes it difficult to draw a connection between welfare and sentience, and that is the book’s downfall. Some excellent points are made about sentience and there are very good discussions on animal welfare. However, unless sentience is considered the essential component of welfare, any attempt to link the two phenomena will be unsuccessful — and that, indeed, is the case with this book.


Sentience And Animal Welfare: New Thoughts And Controversies, Donald M. Broom Jan 2016

Sentience And Animal Welfare: New Thoughts And Controversies, Donald M. Broom

Animal Sentience

Sentience involves having some degree of awareness but awareness of self is not as complex as some people believe. Fully functioning vertebrate animals, and some invertebrates, are sentient but neither humans nor non-humans are sentient early in development or if brain-damaged. Feelings are valuable adaptive mechanisms and an important part of welfare but are not all of welfare so the term welfare refers to all animals, not just to sentient animals. We have much to learn about what non-human animals want from us, the functioning of the more complex aspects of their brains and of our brains and how we ...


Animal Welfare Cannot Adequately Protect Nonhuman Animals: The Need For A Science Of Animal Well-Being, Marc Bekoff, Jessica Pierce Jan 2016

Animal Welfare Cannot Adequately Protect Nonhuman Animals: The Need For A Science Of Animal Well-Being, Marc Bekoff, Jessica Pierce

Animal Sentience

A focus on animal welfare in the use of nonhuman animals in the service of human economic and scientific interests does not and cannot adequately protect (nonhuman) animals. It presupposes that using other animals for human ends is acceptable as long as we try our best to improve the welfare of the animals we use. We argue instead for a “science of animal well-being” in which the protection of animal needs is not subordinated to human economic or scientific interests.


What’S The Common Sense Of Just Some Improvement Of Some Welfare For Some Animals?, Liv Baker Jan 2016

What’S The Common Sense Of Just Some Improvement Of Some Welfare For Some Animals?, Liv Baker

Animal Sentience

The goal of Animal Welfare Science to reduce animal suffering is commendable but too modest: Suffering animals need and deserve far more.