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Full-Text Articles in Philosophy of Mind

Fish Sentience Denial: Muddying The Waters, Lynne U. Sneddon, Javier Lopez-Luna, David C.C. Wolfenden, Matthew C. Leach, Ana M. Valentim, Peter J. Steenbergen, Nabila Bardine, Amanda D. Currie, Donald M. Broom, Culum Brown Sep 2019

Fish Sentience Denial: Muddying The Waters, Lynne U. Sneddon, Javier Lopez-Luna, David C.C. Wolfenden, Matthew C. Leach, Ana M. Valentim, Peter J. Steenbergen, Nabila Bardine, Amanda D. Currie, Donald M. Broom, Culum Brown

Lynne Sneddon, PhD

Recent empirical studies have reported evidence that many aquatic species, including fish, cephalopods and crustaceans, have the capacity for nociception and pain, and that their welfare should be taken into consideration. Some sceptics, rejecting the precautionary principle, have denied that any study demonstrates pain or other aspects of sentience in fish. This target article discusses some of the scientific shortcomings of these critiques through a detailed analysis of a study exploring nociception and analgesia in larval zebrafish.


Animal Pain And The Social Role Of Science, Leslie Irvine Sep 2019

Animal Pain And The Social Role Of Science, Leslie Irvine

Leslie Irvine, PhD

Assuming that all animals are sentient would mean ending their use in most scientific research. This does not necessarily imply an unscientific or anti-scientific stance. Examining the social role of science reveals its considerable investment in preserving the status quo, including the continued use of animal subjects. From this perspective, the use of animal subjects is a custom that science could move beyond, rather than a methodological requirement that it must defend.


Fish Sentience Denial: Muddying The Waters, Lynne U. Sneddon, Javier Lopez-Luna, David C.C. Wolfenden, Matthew C. Leach, Ana M. Valentim, Peter J. Steenbergen, Nabila Bardine, Amanda D. Currie, Donald M. Broom, Culum Brown Aug 2019

Fish Sentience Denial: Muddying The Waters, Lynne U. Sneddon, Javier Lopez-Luna, David C.C. Wolfenden, Matthew C. Leach, Ana M. Valentim, Peter J. Steenbergen, Nabila Bardine, Amanda D. Currie, Donald M. Broom, Culum Brown

Culum Brown, PhD

Recent empirical studies have reported evidence that many aquatic species, including fish, cephalopods and crustaceans, have the capacity for nociception and pain, and that their welfare should be taken into consideration. Some sceptics, rejecting the precautionary principle, have denied that any study demonstrates pain or other aspects of sentience in fish. This target article discusses some of the scientific shortcomings of these critiques through a detailed analysis of a study exploring nociception and analgesia in larval zebrafish.


Humans May Be Unique And Superior — And That Is Irrelevant, Eze Paez Jan 2019

Humans May Be Unique And Superior — And That Is Irrelevant, Eze Paez

Animal Sentience

Chapman & Huffman argue that, because humans are neither unique nor superior to the other animals, cruelty to animals is not justified. Though I agree with their conclusion, I do not think their argument works. Many human beings do have some capacities that animals do not have and are greater in some respects, in the sense of having superior abilities. It is a better argument to deny that any of that is morally relevant. Sentience suffices for moral consideration, and for deriving a moral duty not to harm other animals and to assist them when they are in need.


Is Knowing Enough To Change Human Attitudes And Actions?, Liv Baker Jan 2019

Is Knowing Enough To Change Human Attitudes And Actions?, Liv Baker

Animal Sentience

Marino & Merskin present evidence on key aspects of cognition, such as theory of mind, learning, emotional valence, and sociality, to make a convincing argument that sheep are due consideration as individual sentient beings. With this information, what will it take to produce a real, meaningful shift in our attitudes and actions towards other animals, including a species as disadvantaged as sheep? What else do we need to know?


Support For The Precautionary Principle, Jennifer Mather Jun 2018

Support For The Precautionary Principle, Jennifer Mather

Jennifer Mather, PhD

The precautionary principle gives the animal the benefit of the doubt when its sentient status is not known. This is necessary for advanced invertebrates such as cephalopods because research and evidence concerning the criteria for sentience are scattered and often insufficient to give us the background for the decision.


Cephalopods Are Best Candidates For Invertebrate Consciousness, Jennifer A. Mather, Claudio Carere Jun 2018

Cephalopods Are Best Candidates For Invertebrate Consciousness, Jennifer A. Mather, Claudio Carere

Jennifer Mather, PhD

Insects might have been the first invertebrates to evolve sentience, but cephalopods were the first invertebrates to gain scientific recognition for it.


Fish Sentience Denial: Muddying The Waters, Lynne U. Sneddon, Javier Lopez-Luna, David C.C. Wolfenden, Matthew C. Leach, Ana M. Valentim, Peter J. Steenbergen, Nabila Bardine, Amanda D. Currie, Donald M. Broom, Culum Brown Jan 2018

Fish Sentience Denial: Muddying The Waters, Lynne U. Sneddon, Javier Lopez-Luna, David C.C. Wolfenden, Matthew C. Leach, Ana M. Valentim, Peter J. Steenbergen, Nabila Bardine, Amanda D. Currie, Donald M. Broom, Culum Brown

Animal Sentience

Recent empirical studies have reported evidence that many aquatic species, including fish, cephalopods and crustaceans, have the capacity for nociception and pain, and that their welfare should be taken into consideration. Some sceptics, rejecting the precautionary principle, have denied that any study demonstrates pain or other aspects of sentience in fish. This target article discusses some of the scientific shortcomings of these critiques through a detailed analysis of a study exploring nociception and analgesia in larval zebrafish.


Can They Suffer?, Todd K. Shackelford Jan 2018

Can They Suffer?, Todd K. Shackelford

Animal Sentience

We should treat sentient nonhuman animals as worthy of moral consideration, not because we share an evolutionary history with them, but because they can suffer. As Chapman & Huffman (2018) argue, humans are not uniquely disconnected from other species. We should minimize the suffering we inflict on sentient beings — whether human or nonhuman — not because they, too, are tool-makers or have sophisticated communication systems, but because they, too, can suffer, and suffering is bad.


Defining Denial And Sentient Seafood, Jennifer Jacquet Jan 2018

Defining Denial And Sentient Seafood, Jennifer Jacquet

Animal Sentience

Sneddon et al. address the scientists who reject the empirical evidence on fish sentience, calling them “sceptics” and their work “denial”. This is the first article to frame the question of fish sentience in these terms, and it provides an obvious opening for social science and humanities research in the science of fish sentience. It is also worth asking what practical changes in the lives of fish might arise from the mounting evidence of their sentience. I suggest that the relationship between sentience and our sense of moral obligation is not as clear as we often assume.


Degrees Of Sentience?, Jonathan Birch Jan 2018

Degrees Of Sentience?, Jonathan Birch

Animal Sentience

I focus on the possibility of sentience in zebrafish larvae. The evidence here prompts two intuitive reactions that are difficult to reconcile: the reaction that larvae, if sentient, should be protected in some way, and the reaction that larvae, if capable of nociception, should be used as replacements for adults. Both reactions are reasonable, but they can be reconciled only by constructing a framework for assigning degrees of protection in proportion to degrees of sentience.


On Crabs And Statistics, Jonathan Birch Jan 2018

On Crabs And Statistics, Jonathan Birch

Animal Sentience

I respond to commentaries by Elwood and Seth & Dienes and to a recent critique by Diggles, discussing the link between avoidance learning and sentience, the relevance of the clash between frequentist and Bayesian statistics, the risks to decapod welfare in aquaculture, and the broader concerns one may have about a “precautionary” approach to protecting invertebrates.


Learning, Memory, Cognition, And The Question Of Sentience In Fish, Robert Gerlai Jan 2017

Learning, Memory, Cognition, And The Question Of Sentience In Fish, Robert Gerlai

Animal Sentience

Evolutionarily conserved features have been demonstrated at many levels of biological organization across a variety of species. Evolutionary conservation may apply to complex behavioral phenomena too. It is thus not inconceivable that a form of sentience does exist even in the lowest order vertebrate taxon, the teleosts. How similar it is to human sentience in its level of complexity or in its multidimensional features is a difficult question, especially from an experimental standpoint, given that even the definition of human sentience is debated. Woodruff attempts a Turing-like test of fish sentience, and lists numerous neuroanatomic, neurophysiological and behavioral similarities between ...


Animal Pain And The Social Role Of Science, Leslie Irvine Jan 2017

Animal Pain And The Social Role Of Science, Leslie Irvine

Animal Sentience

Assuming that all animals are sentient would mean ending their use in most scientific research. This does not necessarily imply an unscientific or anti-scientific stance. Examining the social role of science reveals its considerable investment in preserving the status quo, including the continued use of animal subjects. From this perspective, the use of animal subjects is a custom that science could move beyond, rather than a methodological requirement that it must defend.


Nagel-Ing Worries About Fish Sentience, Hugh Lafollette Jan 2017

Nagel-Ing Worries About Fish Sentience, Hugh Lafollette

Animal Sentience

Woodruff (2017) argues that teleosts’ more sophisticated behaviors make sense only if they are sentient. Moreover, their neuroanatomy, although different from mammalian, is sufficiently complex to support sentience. I answer some potential objections to Woodruff’s argument, and try to trace its moral significance. In so doing, I briefly address Birch’s (2017) target article as well.


The “Precautionary Principle” – A Work In Progress, Shelley Adamo Jan 2017

The “Precautionary Principle” – A Work In Progress, Shelley Adamo

Animal Sentience

The target article by Birch illustrates the practical difficulties with the “Animal Sentience Precautionary Principle” (ASPP) while presenting potential solutions. However, the ASPP will be difficult to use without guidelines detailing how evidence of sentience should be assessed. Moreover, extrapolating conclusions found for a single species to all species within an Order is problematic. Finally, I recommend that Birch demonstrate his ASPP framework using a controversial test case to help show how it could be used in real-world situations.


Getting To The Other Side, Debra Merskin Jan 2017

Getting To The Other Side, Debra Merskin

Animal Sentience

Marino’s comprehensive, detailed, and timely review provides clear evidence of the sentience of chickens and strong support for those wishing to challenge their exclusion from even the limited protections currently accorded to animals grown for food.



Fish Sentience: A Hypothesis Worth Pursuing, José E. Burgos Jan 2017

Fish Sentience: A Hypothesis Worth Pursuing, José E. Burgos

Animal Sentience

Woodruff’s case for fish sentience is intriguing. Though far from ready for final acceptance, it is worth pursuing. The case is philosophically uncontroversial under functionalism and reductive materialism. It is also highly heuristic, as it raises interesting issues for further investigation, such as the neural causation of behavior, the role of Mauthner cells in conditioned avoidance, and whether operant conditioning is constitutive of fish sentience.


Consciousness In Teleosts: There Is Something It Feels Like To Be A Fish, Michael L. Woodruff Jan 2017

Consciousness In Teleosts: There Is Something It Feels Like To Be A Fish, Michael L. Woodruff

Animal Sentience

Ray-finned fish are often excluded from the group of non-human animals considered to have phenomenal consciousness. This is generally done on the grounds that the fish pallium lacks a sufficiently expansive gross parcellation, as well as even minimally sufficient neuronal organization, intrinsic connectivity, and reciprocal extrinsic connections with the thalamus to support the subjective experience of qualia. It is also argued that fish do not exhibit the level of behavioral flexibility indicative of consciousness. A review of neuroanatomical, neurophysiological and behavioral studies is presented which leads to the conclusion that fish do have neurobiological correlates and behavioral flexibility of sufficient ...


The Emotional Brain Of Fish, Sonia Rey Planellas Jan 2017

The Emotional Brain Of Fish, Sonia Rey Planellas

Animal Sentience

Woodruff (2017) analyzes structural homologies and functional equivalences between the brains of mammals and fish to understand where sentience and social cognition might reside in teleosts. He compares neuroanatomical, neurophysiological and behavioural correlates. I discuss current advances in the study of fish cognitive abilities and emotions, and advocate an evolutionary approach to the underlying basis of sentience in teleosts.


Support For The Precautionary Principle, Jennifer Mather Jan 2017

Support For The Precautionary Principle, Jennifer Mather

Animal Sentience

The precautionary principle gives the animal the benefit of the doubt when its sentient status is not known. This is necessary for advanced invertebrates such as cephalopods because research and evidence concerning the criteria for sentience are scattered and often insufficient to give us the background for the decision.


Still Wondering How Flesh Can Feel, Gwen J. Broude Dec 2016

Still Wondering How Flesh Can Feel, Gwen J. Broude

Animal Sentience

Reber believes he has simplified Chalmers’s “hard problem” of consciousness by arguing that subjectivity is an inherent feature of biological forms. His argument rests on the related notions of continuity of mind and gradual accretion of capacities across evolutionary time. These notions need to be defended, not just asserted. Because Reber minimizes the differences in mental faculties among species across evolutionary time, it becomes easier to assert, and perhaps believe, that sentience is already present in early biological forms. The more explicit we are about the differences among these mental faculties and the differences across species, the less persuasive ...


Reber’S Caterpillar Offers No Help, Carl Safina Dec 2016

Reber’S Caterpillar Offers No Help, Carl Safina

Animal Sentience

Reber’s target article “Caterpillars, consciousness and the origins of mind” seems only to shift but not to address the question of where the mind is and how minds occur.



Resolving The Hard Problem And Calling For A Small Miracle, Arthur S. Reber Nov 2016

Resolving The Hard Problem And Calling For A Small Miracle, Arthur S. Reber

Animal Sentience

With the exception of the commentary by Key, the commentaries on Reber have a common feature: the commenters feel, with varying levels of enthusiasm, that there is at least some virtue in the core assumption of the Cellular Basis of Consciousness (CBC) theory that consciousness (or subjectivity or sentience) accompanies the earliest forms of life. The model has two important entailments: (a) it resolves the (in)famous Hard Problem by redirecting the search for the biochemical foundations of sentience away from human consciousness; and (b) it reduces the need for an emergentist miracle to a far simpler scale than is ...


Bacteria And The Cellular Basis Of Consciousness, Michael L. Woodruff Aug 2016

Bacteria And The Cellular Basis Of Consciousness, Michael L. Woodruff

Animal Sentience

According to Reber’s theory, the Cellular Basis of Consciousness (CBC), sentience originates as bio-sensitivity in unicellular organisms. For this reason, Reber regards sentience as evolutionarily foundational. Many bacteria show chemotaxis and, thus, according to CBC, they are sentient. Analysis of the genetic mechanisms underlying bacterial chemotaxis indicates that sentience has no explanatory power in this case. Genetic analysis also fails to show species continuity underlying bio-sensitivity in bacteria and bio-sensitivity in species with nervous systems, so it does not seem that sentience is evolutionary foundational. CBC is rejected on these grounds.


Is Cortex Necessary?, Sean Allen-Hermanson Aug 2016

Is Cortex Necessary?, Sean Allen-Hermanson

Animal Sentience

A key contention of Klein & Barron (2016) is that consciousness does not depend on cortical structures. A critical appraisal suggests they have overestimated the strength of their evidence.


Insects Have Agency But Probably Not Sentience Because They Lack Social Bonding, J. H. Van Hateren Aug 2016

Insects Have Agency But Probably Not Sentience Because They Lack Social Bonding, J. H. Van Hateren

Animal Sentience

Klein & Barron (2016) argue that insects have sentience because of functional similarities between the insect brain and vertebrate midbrain. Based on a recent theory of agency and consciousness, I argue that the functional similarities merely point to an advanced form of agency. Insects presumably lack the capacity for social bonding that may be required for subjective experiencing.


Cephalopods Are Best Candidates For Invertebrate Consciousness, Jennifer A. Mather, Claudio Carere Jul 2016

Cephalopods Are Best Candidates For Invertebrate Consciousness, Jennifer A. Mather, Claudio Carere

Animal Sentience

Insects might have been the first invertebrates to evolve sentience, but cephalopods were the first invertebrates to gain scientific recognition for it.


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 ...


Pain In Fish: Weighing The Evidence, James D. Rose Jan 2016

Pain In Fish: Weighing The Evidence, James D. Rose

Animal Sentience

The target article by Key (2016) examines whether fish have brain structures capable of mediating pain perception and consciousness, functions known to depend on the neocortex in humans. He concludes, as others have concluded (Rose 2002, 2007; Rose et al. 2014), that such functions are impossible for fish brains. This conclusion has been met with hypothetical assertions by others to the effect that functions of pain and consciousness may well be possible through unknown alternate neural processes. Key's argument would be bolstered by consideration of other neurological as well as behavioral evidence, which shows that sharks and ray are ...