Alleged problems in attributing beliefs, and intentionality, to animals

Inquiry 24 (4):385-417 (1982)
The ordinary attribution of intentionality to (nonhuman) animals raises serious problems for fashionable linguistic accounts of belief and of intentionality generally; and many of the alleged problems arise from such linguistic theories of mind. Another deeper source of alleged problems is the apartness thesis, that there is a significant difference in kind, with substantial moral import, between humans and other animals; for the last lines of defence of this erroneous thesis consist in making out that there are significant intentional differences. A wide range of recent arguments against assigning intentionality (in the full sense) to animals are criticized in detail: those of Stich and Williams, in terms of animals lacking effective or specifiable concepts (concepts now replacing souls); those of Stich and Davidson based on the requirement for beliefs of an isomorphic belief network; those based on the usual opacity of intentionality; those of Descartes and Davidson and others based on the requirement of, or arguments to the essentiality of, language use for attributions of intentionality; arguments based on the requirement of capacity for pretence or awareness of error; and arguments used by Vendler and Malcolm. Several different arguments for assigning intentionality to animals are then advanced, arguments from cerebral organization, exteriorization arguments, and interiorization arguments from the semantical analysis of intentionality. The main arguments advanced are not analogical; they are not anthropocentric, or the result of personifying languageless animals; and the attributions of intentionality they lead to are not impoverished or of reduced status
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DOI 10.1080/00201748108601945
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References found in this work BETA
Peter Geach (1957). Mental Acts. Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Stephen P. Stich (1979). Do Animals Have Beliefs? Australasian Journal of Philosophy 57 (March):15-28.

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David Martel Johnson (1988). Brutes Believe Not. Philosophical Psychology 1 (3):279-294.

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