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, and Culum Brown, Fish sentience denial: Muddying the waters


Sneddon et al. rightly point out that the evidence of fish pain is now so strong and comprehensive that arguments against it have become increasingly difficult to defend in balanced academic discourse. But sentience involves more than just pain. Recent research indicates that fish have an impressive range of cognitive capacities, including the capacity for pleasure, in the form of play and other behaviors likely to involve positively valenced experience. Having made the case for pain, research can now focus on other aspects of fish sentience. Doing so will not only provide a more complete picture of the mental lives and abilities of fish, but it will also promote their welfare and protection.

Author Biography

Becca Franks is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at New York University. She studies well-being and motivation, with a focus on aquatic animal welfare. Website

Jeff Sebo is clinical assistant professor of Environmental Studies; affiliated professor of Bioethics, Medical Ethics, and Philosophy; and director of the Animal Studies M.A. Program at New York University. He studies bioethics, animal ethics, and environmental ethics. Website

Alexandra Horowitz is adjunct associate professor of Psychology and English and head of the Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College. She studies the perceptual experience of dogs as well as aspects of the human-dog relationships. Website