David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Synthese (3):1-20 (2012)
Whether any non-human animal can attribute mental states to others remains the subject of extensive debate. This despite the fact that several species have behaved as if they have a ‘theory of mind’ in various behavioral tasks. In this paper, we review the reasons of skeptics for their doubts: That existing experimental setups cannot distinguish between ‘mind readers’ and ‘behavior readers’, that results that seem to indicate ‘theory of mind’ may come from studies that are insufficiently controlled, and that our own intuitive biases may lead us to interpret behavior more ‘cognitively’ than is necessary. The merits of each claim and suggested solution are weighed. The conclusion is that while it is true that existing setups cannot conclusively demonstrate ‘theory of mind’ in non-human animals, focusing on this fact is unlikely to be productive. Instead, the more interesting question is how sophisticated their social reasoning can be, whether it is about ‘unobservable inner experiences’ or not. Therefore, it is important to address concerns about the setup and interpretation of specific experiments. To alleviate the impact of intuitive biases, various strategies have been proposed in the literature. These include a deeper understanding of associative learning, a better knowledge of the limited ‘theory of mind’ humans actually use, and thinking of animal cognition in an embodied, embedded way; that is, being aware that constraints outside of the brain, and outside of the body, may naturally predispose individuals to produce behavior that looks smart without requiring complex cognition. To enable this kind of thinking, a powerful methodological tool is advocated: Computational modeling, namely agent-based modeling and, particularly, cognitive modeling. By explicitly simulating the rules and representations that underlie animal performance on specific tasks, it becomes much easier to look past one’s own biases and to see what cognitive processes might actually be occurring
|Keywords||Theory of mind Animal cognition Computational modeling|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Kristin Andrews (2005). Chimpanzee Theory of Mind: Looking in All the Wrong Places? Mind and Language 20 (5):521-536.
Kristin Andrews (2008). It's in Your Nature: A Pluralistic Folk Psychology. Synthese 165 (1):13 - 29.
Ian Apperly & Stephen Andrew Butterfill (2009). Do Humans Have Two Systems to Track Beliefs and Belief-Like States? Psychological Review; Psychological Review 116 (4):953.
Josep Call & Michael Tomasello (2008). Does the Chimpanzee Have a Theory of Mind? 30 Years Later. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 12 (5):187-192.
Charlotte K. Hemelrijk & Johan J. Bolhuis (2011). A Minimalist Approach to Comparative Psychology. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15 (5):185-186.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Marc Bekoff (2008). Increasing Our Compassion Footprint: The Animals' Manifesto. Zygon 43 (4):771-781.
Ingrid Newkirk (2009). The Peta Practical Guide to Animal Rights: Simple Acts of Kindness to Help Animals in Trouble. St. Martin's Griffin.
Alasdair Cochrane (2011). An Introduction to Animals and Political Theory. Palgrave Macmillan.
Matthew Talbert (2006). Contractualism and Our Duties to Nonhuman Animals. Environmental Ethics 28 (2):201-215.
Ben Dixon (2005). Achieving Moral Progress Despite Moral Regress. Social Philosophy Today 21:157-172.
Herbert R. Otto (ed.) (1988). Perspectives On Mind. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Fay Edwards, Porphyry's Rational Animals: Why Barnes' Appeal to Non-Specific Predication is a Non-Starter.
Edward Davenport (1980). Progress in Literary Study. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980:141 - 148.
Clinton Golding (2009). "That's a Better Idea!" Philosophical Progress for Philosophy for Children. Childhood and Philosophy 5 (10):223-269.
Simone Gozzano (1997). Theory of Mind and the Ontology of Belief. Il Cannocchiale 2 (May-August):145-156.
Michael Bavidge & Ian Ground (2009). Do Animals Need a Theory of Mind? In Ivan Leudar & Alan Costall (eds.), Against Theory of Mind. Palgrave Macmillan.
Added to index2012-11-10
Total downloads12 ( #147,425 of 1,679,344 )
Recent downloads (6 months)5 ( #48,400 of 1,679,344 )
How can I increase my downloads?