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Are fish the victims of ‘speciesism’? A discussion about fear, pain and animal consciousness

Abstract

Fish welfare is currently a hotly debated topic; this is mainly due to the issue of whether or not fish have the capacity for conscious awareness, or subjective states. Because of the contentious nature of animal consciousness, the subject is often avoided in many welfare arguments, but it is argued that since welfare should be about how animals feel, this issue is unavoidable. There is also good reason to believe that the issue of assessing subjective states is not as insurmountable as some believe.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Behaviorism: an approach in psychology (which predominated in the mid 1900s) that believed only in the study of visible and quantifiable aspects of behaviour and rejected subjective experiences such as emotions, motivation or conscious thought processes.

  2. 2.

    The term ‘fish’ refers to species for which we have sufficient evidence to infer subjective experience using the same objective standards employed to infer consciousness in humans and other phylogenetically advanced vertebrate animals.

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Correspondence to Stephanie Yue Cottee.

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Yue Cottee, S. Are fish the victims of ‘speciesism’? A discussion about fear, pain and animal consciousness. Fish Physiol Biochem 38, 5–15 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10695-010-9449-9

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Keywords

  • Fish
  • Fear
  • Pain
  • Consciousness
  • Animal welfare
  • Speciesism