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
John McDowell (1994). Mind and World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Donald Davidson (1984). Inquiries Into Truth And Interpretation. Oxford University Press.
Amanda Seed & Michael Tomasello (2010). Primate Cognition. Topics in Cognitive Science 2 (3):407-419.
Gottlob Frege & Michael Beaney (eds.) (1997). The Frege Reader. Blackwell Publishers.
Citations of this work BETA
Pierre Steiner (2013). The Delocalized Mind. Judgements, Vehicles, and Persons. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 2013 (3):1-24.
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