Awareness in Fish

  • Ruud van den BosEmail author
Part of the Animal Welfare book series (AWNS, volume 20)


Whether fish have awareness, and if so, of what they are aware, has been a long-standing question. Discussions on the welfare of animals, which entail whether animals suffer, have renewed the interest in this question. Here, I discuss, starting from the early work of George Romanes, different strategies that have been taken to address this question: ranging from inaccessible per se, since the private nature of mental life is impossible to study, to access, yet requiring a theoretical framework that leads to clear experimental predictions. This scientific debate will feed discussions on how to treat fish, yet should not be burdened by a desired outcome: awareness in animals is but one aspect of the moral question how to treat animals.


Mental states Emotion Cognition Goal-directed Behaviour Animal welfare 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal Ecology and Physiology, Institute for Water and Wetland ResearchRadboud UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands

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