David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Dialectica 64 (1):11-33 (2010)
This article discusses the problems which concepts pose for the attribution of thoughts to animals. It locates these problems within a range of other issues concerning animal minds ( section 1 ), and presents a 'lingualist master argument' according to which one cannot entertain a thought without possessing its constituent concepts and cannot possess concepts without possessing language ( section 2 ). The first premise is compelling if one accepts the building-block model of concepts as parts of wholes – propositions – and the idea that intentional verbs signify relations between subjects and such propositions. But I shall find fault with both ( section 3 ). This opens the way for recognizing a form of 'holodoxastic' thought-ascription which does not presuppose concept-possession on the part of the subject ( section 4 ). Section 5 defends this idea against objections. Section 6 turns to the second premise of the lingualist master argument. I press the idea of judgement into service as a label for conceptual thought that need not be linguistic and argue that the possession of concepts is an ability. Section 7 accepts that concept-possession requires the ability to classify rather than merely to discriminate, but suggests that this need not disqualify animals. In the final section I confirm this verdict by returning to the notion of judgement: classification is the deliberate and considered response to a range of options in a sorting or discrimination task. Notwithstanding appearances to the contrary, the capacity for such a response does not presuppose the linguistic ability to answer questions. Judgement is a feature of a type of problem-solving that we share with some non-linguistic creatures.
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References found in this work BETA
Colin Allen (1999). Animal Concepts Revisited: The Use of Self-Monitoring as an Empirical Approach. [REVIEW] Erkenntnis 51 (1):537-544.
Jose Luis Bermudez (2003). Thinking Without Words. Oxford University Press.
Adrian Cussins (1992). Content, Embodiment, and Objectivity: The Theory of Cognitive Trails. Mind 101 (404):651-88.
Donald Davidson (1984). Inquiries Into Truth And Interpretation. Oxford University Press.
Donald Davidson (1997). Seeing Through Language. In John M. Preston (ed.), Thought and Language. Cambridge University Press. 15-.
Citations of this work BETA
Pierre Steiner (2013). The Delocalized Mind. Judgements, Vehicles, and Persons. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 2013:1-24.
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