Contrasting approaches to the legitimation of intentional language within comparative psychology

Behaviorism 15 (1):41-50 (1987)
Abstract
Dennett, a philosopher, and Griffin, an ethologist, have recently presented influential arguments promoting the extended use of intentional language by students of animal behavior. This essay seeks to elucidate and to contrast the claims made by each of these authors, and to evaluate their proposals primarily from the perspective of a practicing comparative psychologist or ethologist. While Griffin regards intentional terms as explanatory, Dennett assigns them a descriptive function; the issue of animal consciousness is central to Griffin's program and only tangentially related to Dennett's. The philosopher's arguments are founded upon a more coherent metaphysics, but Dennett neglects to substantiate his claim that animal competences can be most readily modelled by artificial intelligence specialists when they are described in intentional terms. Both authors assume that some examples of animal behavior should not be given an intentional characterization, but neither provides adequate guidelines for the identification of cases belonging to this negative set
Keywords Animal  Behavior  Intentionality  Language  Psychology  Science
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