Animal minds Intelligent Design

At Mind Matters News: Asked at The Scientist: Do invertebrates have feelings?

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Just as vertebrates differ greatly in intelligence and sentience, invertebrates may differ greatly too. The seafood industry is taking heed:

Assessing the evidence is tricky. In recent years, we have discovered that some invertebrates — octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish, for example — are much more intelligent than we used to think. That’s also true to some extent of lobsters and crabs. But they are special cases. Many other invertebrates, like clams, show little sign of cognitive awareness.

As Mesa goes on to note, it is hard to tell without skilful research. Many invertebrates do not have “faces” and their brains are organized very differently from ours. And, bluntly, some invertebrate behavior does not point in the direction of much sentience. As she observes, “Locusts continue to chew leaves as they’re being consumed by predators, and many insects don’t limp in response to injury.” Then there’s the praying mantis:

Denyse O’Leary, “Asked at The Scientist: Do invertebrates have feelings?” at Mind Matters News (May 31, 2022)

Eric Cassell, author of Animal Algorithms (2021) and entomologist Deborah M. Gordon describe the behavior of insects like ants as algorithmic, like that of a computer — which means that they probably aren’t “feeling” anything.

Denyse O’Leary, “Asked at The Scientist: Do invertebrates have feelings?” at Mind Matters News (May 31, 2022)

Takehome: What we are learning is that invertebrate status is not, by itself, evidence of an inability to think or feel — as we used to suppose. In a world full of information and intelligence, it’s not nearly as tidy as our biology teachers thought.


You may also wish to read:

Researchers ask—serious question — do crabs have emotions?Recent research has created some unexpected ethical problems for the seafood industry. There are no simple answers to why some invertebrates show more intelligence and emotion than we would expect.

How could we know if an octopus or lobster felt pain? Researchers found that, when it comes to awareness, octopuses were the stars, followed by lobsters, crayfish, crabs, etc. How a life form acquires the ability to make intelligent decisions (and feel pain) is a fruitful mystery but it might blow up some assumptions about evolution.

13 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: Asked at The Scientist: Do invertebrates have feelings?

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Dietary rules have never been tightly correlated with our sense of the intelligence of animals, so changing the sense shouldn’t necessarily change our dietary rules.

    Kosher and halal rules try to limit our consumption of animals, partly because we do sense a kinship.

    Halal says we should mostly eat plants, and should kill animals mercifully if we have to eat them. Ideally we should eat only plant-eating animals, staying low on the kill chain.

    Both of those rules exclude arthropods, but not because arthropods are felt to be MORE conscious than cattle and hogs.

  2. 2
    JHolo says:

    Octopi have been known to problem solve. They would probably rule the world if they weren’t so short lived. If the cats let them.

  3. 3
    jerry says:

    They would probably rule the world if they weren’t so short lived

    Why?

    Seems like an argument against any type of significant genetic evolution.

  4. 4
    Querius says:

    Where we live, there are jumping spiders that react to your every motion by instantly repositioning their body. It’s a very creepy feeling.

    Growing up, I kept a number of praying mantises as pets. They would cock their heads at any motion (more so with their favorites, flies). They gave me the impression of cold, robotic precision rather than any “feelings” on their part.

    California has made it illegal to eat any animal commonly kept as pets with some exclusions. Of course, this law is culturally insensitive to those native Americans and Asian cultures that included dog meat in their diet. It also includes horse meat, which is probably more healthy to eat than meat from cattle. Horses and cats have always a favorite in European cuisine during war.
    https://law.onecle.com/california/penal/599a.html (applies only to “dumb” animals and birds)
    https://law.onecle.com/california/penal/598a.html (applies to dogs and cats)
    https://law.onecle.com/california/penal/598b.html (applies to animals commonly kept as pets or companions)
    https://law.onecle.com/california/penal/598c.html (applies to horses, ponies, burros, and mules)
    https://law.onecle.com/california/penal/598d.html (applies to California restaurants serving horsemeat)

    Note that the qualifier, dumb, means that smart or talkative animals are not protected under this law. Also note that apparently birds are not animals according to the State of California (or maybe Californians think that birds are smart and talkative).

    Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court already has a long-standing ruling that tomatoes are vegetables.
    https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/149/304.html

    And now (drumroll) in California, bumblebees and perhaps other invertebrates are legally classified as fish. No kidding!
    https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/C093542.PDF

    Remember, the enlightened courts in California not only follow the facts of science, but sometimes lead the science reaching novel discoveries enforceable by criminal penalties!

    -Q

  5. 5
    chuckdarwin says:

    Querius/4

    Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court already has a long-standing ruling that tomatoes are vegetables.
    https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/149/304.html

    And now (drumroll) in California, bumblebees and perhaps other invertebrates are legally classified as fish. No kidding!
    https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/C093542.PDF

    Remember, the enlightened courts in California not only follow the facts of science, but sometimes lead the science reaching novel discoveries enforceable by criminal penalties!

    Both of these decisions make sense in the context within which they arise. The problem is not with the courts. What the cases really illustrate are legislative problems in drafting statutes and administrative rules. The California statute, in particular, is poorly drafted if the California legislature’s intent was to protect only aquatic invertebrates (a distinction that the court clearly understood). Moreover, you have to give the lawyers for the CA Attorney General’s office credit for really creative lawyering…..

  6. 6
    Querius says:

    The California legislature passes a law with precise boundaries and criminal penalties. The California courts encroach on the legislature by interpreting their intent as anything they jolly well please. Apparently, bumble bees are fish if you squint hard enough.

    If legislation was passed to protect certain fish, and the California Fish & Game Commission wants to extend their authority to bumble bees, then the legislature needs to draft and pass a legislation that includes bumble bees, making it the Fish, Game, & Invertebrates Commission. The point is that the separation of powers doesn’t give the judicial branch legislative authority.

    Note that in this ruling, we read

    The issue presented here is whether the bumble bee, a terrestrial invertebrate, falls within the definition of fish, as that term is used in the definitions of endangered species in section 2062, threatened species in section 2067, and candidate species (i.e., species being considered for listing as endangered or threatened species) in section 2068 of the Act. More specifically, we must determine whether the Commission exceeded its statutorily delegated authority when it designated four bumble bee species as candidate species under consideration for listing as endangered species.

    Apparently the California Court agrees that the Fish & Game Commission can arbitrarily extend the definition of “fish” to anything it wants to control despite the fact that bumble bees aren’t actually, scientifically, biologically fish.

    But maybe they mighta evolved from fish . . .

    -Q

  7. 7
    chuckdarwin says:

    I don’t know anyone that claims that bumble bees evolved from fish, but I have it on good authority that they are invertebrates….

  8. 8
    relatd says:

    See any Tree of Life. Humans, and everything else, evolved from fish.

    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/122441683592599369/

    🙂

  9. 9
    ET says:

    Actually, insects are said to have evolved from brine shrimp-like populations.

  10. 10
    relatd says:

    We all came from the sea? Doubtful.

  11. 11
    jerry says:

    Humans, and everything else, evolved from fish

    It must be true, it’s on Pinterest.

    Of course the problem is, no one knows how it happened. Then there is the problem, what is a fish?

  12. 12
    relatd says:

    Things don’t just happen by themselves. Or by accident.

  13. 13
    jerry says:

    Things don’t just happen by themselves. Or by accident.

    We only know of four physical forces and intelligence that will affect how things happen.

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