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Commentary Type

Invited Commentary


Andrew Crump, Heather Browning, Alex Schnell, Charlotte Burn, and Jonathan Birch, Sentience in decapod crustaceans: A general framework and review of the evidence


In the target article Crump et al. present 8 criteria to assess whether decapods experience pain. Four of these -- sensory integration, motivational trade-offs, flexible self-protection, and associative learning -- could be used to assess sentience in general. In this commentary I discuss difficulties with using these criteria to provide evidence of sentience in decapods, particularly if this evidence is to change public opinion and policies. These difficulties are lack of evidence, the potential to eventually explain the neurobiological basis of the behaviors chosen as criteria, thereby eliminating any explanatory work for sentience, and the reluctance to bring animals that are not cuddly under our moral umbrella.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Author Biography


Michael L. Woodruff is Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Sciences in the Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University. His current research interests include cognitive neuroscience and the philosophy of mind. Website