Do lobsters feel pain?

Discussions on general biology and biological evolution, genetics, zoology, ecology, botany, etc.

Do lobsters feel pain?

Postby someguy1 on February 17th, 2018, 11:07 pm 

I ran across this news story and since I don't know anything about biology I thought I'd ask for your opinions about whether it's cruel to boil lobsters alive.

The practice has now been outlawed in Switzerland.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/wor ... 341412002/

Since this is a philosophy forum I'm also curious about the ethics of boiling lobsters alive even if they can't feel pain. Do the ethics change depending on the subjective experiential state of the lobsters? But that's something we can truly never know.
someguy1
Member
 
Posts: 655
Joined: 08 Nov 2013


Re: Do lobsters feel pain?

Postby Lomax on February 17th, 2018, 11:16 pm 

David Foster Wallace makes a good case.

Consider the Lobster
User avatar
Lomax
Forum Administrator
 
Posts: 3653
Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Location: Nuneaton, UK
wolfhnd liked this post


Re: Do lobsters feel pain?

Postby wolfhnd on February 17th, 2018, 11:35 pm 

To me it is like the abortion issue. Anything that devalues life is bad if it is done with a cavalier attitude. I'm not against abortion but I'm against it being a choice for birth control and in this case how hard would it be to dispatch the lobster before cooking it. I'm really conflicted about some related issues like chickens. I deplore the conditions chickens are raised in and chickens are vicious stupid birds but cheap protein is pretty useful in producing healthy intelligent humans. Not everyone has the luxury to pay for free range eggs and chickens and eating junk food is a bad alternative. The same kind of logic applies to abortion in that not everyone knows when or how to acquire birth control. Put me in the no live boiling of lobsters and on the fence on factory farms camp. Abortion is more complex but in general the argument that it is just some cells is disengenuous to me.
User avatar
wolfhnd
Resident Member
 
Posts: 4603
Joined: 21 Jun 2005
Blog: View Blog (3)


Re: Do lobsters feel pain?

Postby Serpent on February 17th, 2018, 11:59 pm 

Simple enough: anything with a nervous system can feel pain. Anything that tries to get away or fight when caught, does not want to have happen whatever the catcher is planning.
People tell themselves and one another all kinds of lies; choose to believe the convenient lie rather than the evidence of their senses. But we know they're lies, just the same.
When in doubt whether your prey is suffering or not - stop doing that!
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 2984
Joined: 24 Dec 2011
zetreque liked this post


Re: Do lobsters feel pain?

Postby BadgerJelly on February 18th, 2018, 12:01 am 

They taste amazing, but it makes sense to just put a knife through their brain first just in case.

tbh I've treated fish worse because I had a stint working on a fishing boat.
User avatar
BadgerJelly
Resident Member
 
Posts: 5273
Joined: 14 Mar 2012


Re: Do lobsters feel pain?

Postby wolfhnd on February 18th, 2018, 12:10 am 

Serpent » Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:59 am wrote:Simple enough: anything with a nervous system can feel pain. Anything that tries to get away or fight when caught, does not want to have happen whatever the catcher is planning.
People tell themselves and one another all kinds of lies; choose to believe the convenient lie rather than the evidence of their senses. But we know they're lies, just the same.
When in doubt whether your prey is suffering or not - stop doing that!


Seems kind of obvious to me.
User avatar
wolfhnd
Resident Member
 
Posts: 4603
Joined: 21 Jun 2005
Blog: View Blog (3)


Re: Do lobsters feel pain?

Postby Lomax on February 18th, 2018, 12:20 am 

someguy1 » February 18th, 2018, 4:07 am wrote:Since this is a philosophy forum I'm also curious about the ethics of boiling lobsters alive even if they can't feel pain. Do the ethics change depending on the subjective experiential state of the lobsters? But that's something we can truly never know.

I should have added something. For me the ethics of killing something depend a great deal on its experiential state (and capacity) and for this reason eating vegetables bothers me less than eating meat. But lobsters are actually extremely easy to harvest in vast numbers - for that reason they were once a poor man's food - and their artificially inflated price, and subsequent popularity among the rich and the aspiring, seems to me like a swindle, a racket, and perhaps an expression of classism and elitism. If we really want to be picky about this stuff.
User avatar
Lomax
Forum Administrator
 
Posts: 3653
Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Location: Nuneaton, UK


Re: Do lobsters feel pain?

Postby wolfhnd on February 18th, 2018, 2:43 am 

Someday I think people will stop eating meat accept for those who make it a ritual like eating the brains of dead relative, nativist who want to maintain cultural hegemony, the eccentric who want to hunt to feel edgy, some poor people who get left out of progress, etc.

I don't think it will happen because of a moral awakening but simply because science will make healthier food that tastes better.

What effect on animal suffering that will have is debatable. The lives of most animals in the wild is plenty cruel. The important thing is that humans will have removed themselves from one of the world's processes that inflict unnecessary suffering.

I'm one of the people that would continue to hunt and consume meat. My hunting is certainly less cruel than the way wolves kill their prey so cruelty is not the issue Most people here have rejected spirituality but I have the same attitude that a hunter gather may have in that the proper killing of a wild animal creates a spiritual connection between you and the animal. Of course I'm using spirituality in a loose figurative sense but I think it can be humbling to be in touch with your Paleolithic self. Of course in the more distant future the cyborg humans may feel that spending a day as a 21st century human is a "spiritual" experience.
User avatar
wolfhnd
Resident Member
 
Posts: 4603
Joined: 21 Jun 2005
Blog: View Blog (3)


Re: Do lobsters feel pain?

Postby doogles on February 18th, 2018, 7:38 am 

This article on the euthanasia of lobsters may be of interest - http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/a ... /art00015# It is in Ingenta Connect, Vol 50 pps 545-550 by Battison et al

Essentially, the researchers took two groups of 10 lobsters. They kept one lot at approx 2 degrees C and another at 12 degrees C.

All were euthanased as follows: "Injection of 3 mL of 33.33% KCl injection into the base of the second pereiopod."

The following was the part that interested me from a pain detection point of view: "There was a brief period (approx 15 s) of limb extension followed by flaccidity of the limbs and tail. There was also little to no 'pinch'/closure response to objects placed within the chelae of the walking legs at that time."

So there was very little struggling or movement after injection. The point of death was determined by heart beat characteristics and described as follows: "The cardiac response was immediate, but variable in all lobsters. In some lobsters, the heart rate would visibly slow and the force of contraction would gradually diminish and eventually stop. In others there was cessation of contraction although movement of the ventral wall was still present for a short time."

The 1000 mg of KCl would have absolutely no effect on a human if they ate the injection site or the whole lobster. It would be diffused to a large extent during the minimum 30 s to death. Necropsy showed that "Lesions of the muscle were mild to moderate."

The results are shown in the Table

EUTHANASIA OF LOBSTERS 2.jpg


As you can see the lobsters' hearts ceased to beat after 40 to 132 s in the ones kept at 2 degrees C and 29 to 60 s in the ones kept at 12 degrees C. Apparently the differences were not significantly different (There was a wide SD).

Up to my early 20s I boiled stacks of yabbies and a few lobsters from a cold start, but I can't remember much movement inside the boilers. I'm depending on memory here. maybe I just shut the noise out.

But I think if I had to cook lobsters these days, I may be inclined to try the KCl. It is very cheap and should be available in food grade.
User avatar
doogles
Member
 
Posts: 986
Joined: 11 Apr 2009
Location: BRISBANE


Re: Do lobsters feel pain?

Postby wolfhnd on February 18th, 2018, 4:49 pm 

If the goal is to reduce unnecessary suffering do we become morally obligated to minimize "natural" suffering normally considered outside human control? At some point it seems possible we will be able to eliminate predation and prevent overpopulation of at least large land animals essencially turning the entire planet into a kind of zoo.
User avatar
wolfhnd
Resident Member
 
Posts: 4603
Joined: 21 Jun 2005
Blog: View Blog (3)
Lomax liked this post


Re: Do lobsters feel pain?

Postby zetreque on February 18th, 2018, 5:51 pm 

wolfhnd » Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:49 pm wrote: essencially turning the entire planet into a kind of zoo.


In my optimistic outlook on the future that's kind of what happens. Poverty gets eliminated and protected global national parks become tourist attractions which are much more than tourist attractions. They are places to learn and places to reconnect to one's self and where one came from. But I am taking us off topic here. Sorry.

I'm not sure that optimistic view will take place given the level of greed, corruption, and nutritional deficiency induced illness plaguing the world. I think it is still a worthy endeavor though to reduce pain and suffering in life despite it being the natural state of things. Given the choice, few would want to suffer themselves so inflicting it on others seems hypocritical.
User avatar
zetreque
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 3594
Joined: 30 Dec 2007
Location: Paradise being lost to humanity
Blog: View Blog (3)


Re: Do lobsters feel pain?

Postby Braininvat on February 18th, 2018, 5:59 pm 

While the reductio ad absurdum makes a good point, I think the arguments against cruel forms of factory farming do not have to take us that far. I can make the whole protein part of a meal with 2 pasture free-range eggs that costs less than chicken (even factory farmed confinement chicken), even at the present high price of such eggs. The eggs I get come from chickens that live in a fairly natural state, about 15 miles from here, and quite a bit of the protein comes from the hen foraging, snacking on insects, grass seeds, and other natural sources that add no carbon footprint, i.e. are just there to be scavenged from the farmstead. And unlike the chicken itself, the eggs can be handled and transported with relatively little refrigeration until we bring them home from the farmer's market stall. So, if we do not view animal flesh as some sort of vital gustatory entertainment, then alternatives like this would seem to offer less suffering and not bust the budget. Also, the pasture eggs are much higher in vital nutrients like alpha-linolenic acid and K2.

As someone who has directly witnessed factory farming (including a brief stint in a meat packing plant while in college), I am fairly sure that the misery of confinement operations is vastly greater than a natural life on open habitat. The moment of predation that ends a free range animal life is not at the same level of overall misery as a caged existence.
User avatar
Braininvat
Forum Administrator
 
Posts: 6479
Joined: 21 Jan 2014
Location: Black Hills


Re: Do lobsters feel pain?

Postby wolfhnd on February 18th, 2018, 6:38 pm 

Braininvat » Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:59 pm wrote:While the reductio ad absurdum makes a good point, I think the arguments against cruel forms of factory farming do not have to take us that far. I can make the whole protein part of a meal with 2 pasture free-range eggs that costs less than chicken (even factory farmed confinement chicken), even at the present high price of such eggs. The eggs I get come from chickens that live in a fairly natural state, about 15 miles from here, and quite a bit of the protein comes from the hen foraging, snacking on insects, grass seeds, and other natural sources that add no carbon footprint, i.e. are just there to be scavenged from the farmstead. And unlike the chicken itself, the eggs can be handled and transported with relatively little refrigeration until we bring them home from the farmer's market stall. So, if we do not view animal flesh as some sort of vital gustatory entertainment, then alternatives like this would seem to offer less suffering and not bust the budget. Also, the pasture eggs are much higher in vital nutrients like alpha-linolenic acid and K2.

As someone who has directly witnessed factory farming (including a brief stint in a meat packing plant while in college), I am fairly sure that the misery of confinement operations is vastly greater than a natural life on open habitat. The moment of predation that ends a free range animal life is not at the same level of overall misery as a caged existence.


The reductio ad absurdum does not just address the moral responsibility for reducing suffering in world where every living thing suffers daily in the struggle for survival but it addresses meaning as well. That is perhaps a longer discussion than we wish to have at the moment.

If predation was the only form of suffering then the argument would be completely sound but as was pointed out in the discussion of lobsters the outward indication of pain was movement. The suffering doesn't come from sensory perception alone but from the responses to those sensory perceptions that were homed by evolution to enhance survival. If you look at wild animals they seem to live in a perpetual state of neurotic stimulation where the movement of a leaf sends them into frozen paranoia or bonding semi randomly away impaling themselves with every sharp object in the environment. In the case of humans the knowledge of unavoidable death, the breaking of relationships, the fear that a concept of the future brings and how unprepared we are for that future is a constant source of suffering. Domesticated animals in contrast live lives relatively free of fear a major source of suffering. We need to dig deeper into this question to figure out what it can teach us.

As to the factory farming question I tried to make clear that it was not just the cost of production but the choices that people will make based on cost. It is somewhat like the moral dilemma surrounding welfare in so much as the choices we encourage have unintended consequences. Poor people make bad choices because they do not have the luxury in many cases to consider long term consequences. If a poor person choices a healthy diet in some cases it means that they must sacrifice other small luxuries like beer or cigarettes for example. You have to start by teaching people how to enjoy life before you can teach them how they should live.
User avatar
wolfhnd
Resident Member
 
Posts: 4603
Joined: 21 Jun 2005
Blog: View Blog (3)


Re: Do lobsters feel pain?

Postby Serpent on February 18th, 2018, 8:30 pm 

wolfhnd » February 18th, 2018, 3:49 pm wrote:If the goal is to reduce unnecessary suffering do we become morally obligated to minimize "natural" suffering normally considered outside human control? At some point it seems possible we will be able to eliminate predation and prevent overpopulation of at least large land animals essencially turning the entire planet into a kind of zoo.


Given the overpopulation of humans, with farming and industry to service that human population filling up all the natural habitats, there will be no animals, except in reserves. Like North American Indians, only with (probably) better living conditions... as long as our governments think they can afford it. When they need money badly enough, they'll open the parks to trophy-hunters and fracking ... especially if they've introduced the added attraction of exotic species brought back from extinction.

But that's all dependent of things continuing on the present trajectory - which seems unlikely to me.
I also think that, before they eliminate the commercial raising of food animals, humans will accelerate the growth of factory farming - even more meat on less land. It's the water-shortages that will reverse this trend to cloned meat and enclosed hydroponic vegetables. Grain will be the biggest problem - probably get all their starch from tubers and pulses.
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 2984
Joined: 24 Dec 2011


Re: Do lobsters feel pain?

Postby wolfhnd on February 19th, 2018, 4:09 am 

Serpent » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:30 am wrote:
wolfhnd » February 18th, 2018, 3:49 pm wrote:If the goal is to reduce unnecessary suffering do we become morally obligated to minimize "natural" suffering normally considered outside human control? At some point it seems possible we will be able to eliminate predation and prevent overpopulation of at least large land animals essencially turning the entire planet into a kind of zoo.


Given the overpopulation of humans, with farming and industry to service that human population filling up all the natural habitats, there will be no animals, except in reserves. Like North American Indians, only with (probably) better living conditions... as long as our governments think they can afford it. When they need money badly enough, they'll open the parks to trophy-hunters and fracking ... especially if they've introduced the added attraction of exotic species brought back from extinction.

But that's all dependent of things continuing on the present trajectory - which seems unlikely to me.
I also think that, before they eliminate the commercial raising of food animals, humans will accelerate the growth of factory farming - even more meat on less land. It's the water-shortages that will reverse this trend to cloned meat and enclosed hydroponic vegetables. Grain will be the biggest problem - probably get all their starch from tubers and pulses.


I'm going to be lazy and not address most of the points because I feel you are mostly restating common positions taken by a politicized environmental movement. A note worthy exception is the focus on population growth which has generally been dropped in recent years out of what I suspect is a fear of being labeled racist and to build alliances with the intersectionalists. I'm not saying that you are politically motivated only that the arguments are familiar. Correct me if I'm wrong :-).

What I was hoping you would do is delve into the psychological not so much the physical environmental conditions. The two of course are inseparable because all creatures are physical beings but we make the distinction for pragmatic reasons. In any case since you elected to quote that specific statement I assume that you understood the unstated which of course is the potential cruelty of restraint necessary to operate a zoo.

In my reply to BIV you may have noticed that I mentioned the effect of artificial selection in which docility brings with it a reduction in stress because domestication largely eliminates predation. So it is conceivable that many species could by selection become adapted to refinement. In which case psychological suffering, which I would argue is the only meaningful definition of suffering could theoretically be reduced in the future. That of course is in reference to the idea that sensor perception cannot be painful unless processed by a nervous system designed for survival. Of course the nervous system cannot not be revamped to illuminate pain but suffering could be reduced. In any case I hope you are not making the antinatalist case because an argument against existence itself is inherently circular.

The reason I mentioned meaning earlier is that if you start from the premise that existence is good you need to explain why. Surely meaning is not only derived from the reduction of suffering but must exist a prior. That is in a way the challenge for moral philosophy in a scientific world. What is purpose and does it go beyond fitness?
User avatar
wolfhnd
Resident Member
 
Posts: 4603
Joined: 21 Jun 2005
Blog: View Blog (3)


Re: Do lobsters feel pain?

Postby Lomax on February 19th, 2018, 12:50 pm 

Braininvat » February 18th, 2018, 10:59 pm wrote:While the reductio ad absurdum makes a good point

I hadn't read it as a reductio. I think it's genuinely worth considering to what extent we should intervene.
User avatar
Lomax
Forum Administrator
 
Posts: 3653
Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Location: Nuneaton, UK


Re: Do lobsters feel pain?

Postby Braininvat on February 19th, 2018, 1:15 pm 

Well I read Wolf's idea of policing wildlife preserves to prevent predation as a reductio. Hogarth's "Peaceable Kingdom" came to mind. An ecosystem and a zoological garden are two quite different things. Sure, we could just have zoos, but they would preserve nothing worth preserving, and just be entertainment using furry things. Look! A squirrel! That wouldn't be stewardship except in a Disney themed way.
User avatar
Braininvat
Forum Administrator
 
Posts: 6479
Joined: 21 Jan 2014
Location: Black Hills


Re: Do lobsters feel pain?

Postby doogles on February 22nd, 2018, 6:39 am 

This thread on lobsters appeared to be getting into one of generalised animal welfare, with a touch of not eating meat because it involves the killing of animals.

I'd like to throw a few personal experiences and viewpoints into the ring.

I have personally killed or supervised the killing of tens of thousands of animals. Forget the numbers of insects I've squashed. It started with fish. Eels may have been the first. When you pull them in on a hand line, which is all we had, they wriggled all over the place. We were taught as pre-teens to decebrate them with a transverse cut across the top of the body a couple of inches behind the eyes. They could be safely left on the ground but they still wriggled and even writhed to some extent hours later when we skinned them. We were told that this was just 'nerves'.

And fish of course were just left to run out of oxygen after the hook was removed.

We used to catch rabbits to eat from the time I was born in the 1930s. Trapping was common. Animals were in obvious pain with compound fractures of the trapped leg until their neck was dislocated or they received a blow to the head. The satisfaction of catching food overrode any thoughts about the victim. If rabbits were caught in nets after we put ferrets into the burrow, we either stretched their necks or hit them behind the head with the edge of our palms (This was called a 'rabbit-killer'), before we stretched their necks. I've shot hundreds of rabbits with a 0.22 rifle and prided myself on hitting 9 rabbits out of 10 in the head. My secret for this economy was to crawl from downwind to within 10 or 15 metres of my target.

There was a lesson inherent in this shooting. Even though it was aimed at the head, it occasionally blew just the top off the frontal sinus or something similar, temporarilly stunning the animal. After firing off a shot, I quickly sprinted to the target and finished it off manually. I'm making the point here that shooting, even at the head, can be messy. And, although I've never participated in culling, I imagine that shooting large feral animals from helicopters would be far more messy.

Even if we all decided to become vegetarians or vegans because we did not like the thought of animals having to be killed to provide our meat, somebody would still have to kill the animals that become pests.

The culling of feral animals is already a huge industry on our planet. I understand that one of the biggest problems in African crop farming is the prevention of the intrusion of all species of animals that wreck crops.

In Australia, many district councils pay bounties on the scalps of dingoes, foxes and feral cats. Admittedly, these three species do not harm crops, but they upset the balance of the environment for smaller native species. Because of the damage they cause to fences and vegetation (including crops), we regularly kill rabbits, feral rats and mice, and there are organised culls of macropods, emus, feral horse, camels, pigs, donkeys and buffalo. This site may give you some idea of the extent of the problem -- https://www.theguardian.com/australia-n ... o-and-pigs.

It's an ongoing messy business and someone has to do it.

One aspect of domestic meat production is that the slaughter of the animals is quick and efficient. The downside to my mind is the emotional stress of the removal of animals from their only known environment. The transport must be frightening, as would be the waiting around in strange holding yards before slaughter.
A better method to my mind would be the slaughter of animals on the farms on which they are reared and the shipping of chilled carcasses to market. The shipping of live stock to foreign markets must be traumatic for the animals concerned.
User avatar
doogles
Member
 
Posts: 986
Joined: 11 Apr 2009
Location: BRISBANE



Return to Biology

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests