What is the distribution of cognitive ability within the animal kingdom? It would be egalitarian to assume that variation in intelligence is everywhere clinal, but examining trends among major phylogenetic groups, it becomes easy to distinguish high-performing ‘generalists’ – whose behavior exhibits domain-flexibility – from ‘specialists’ whose range of behavior is limited and ecologically specific. These generalists include mammals, birds, and, intriguingly, cephalopods. The apparent intelligence of coleoid cephalopods (squids, octopuses, and cuttlefish) is surprising – and philosophically relevant – because (...) of our independent evolutionary lineages: the most recent common ancestor between vertebrates and cephalopods would have been a small wormlike organism, without any major organizational structure to its nervous system. By identifying the cognitive similarities between these organisms and vertebrates, we can begin to derive some general principles of intelligence as a biological phenomenon. Here, I discuss trends in cephalopod behavior and surrounding theory, and suggest their significance for our understanding of domain-general cognition and its evolution. (shrink)
Our goal in this paper is to provide enough of an account of the origins of cognitive ethology and the controversy surrounding it to help ethicists to gauge for themselves how to balance skepticism and credulity about animal minds when communicating with scientists. We believe that ethicists’ arguments would benefit from better understanding of the historical roots of ongoing controversies. It is not appropriate to treat some widely reported results in animal cognition as if their interpretations are a matter (...) of scientific consensus. It is especially important to understand why loose references to “cognitive ethology” by philosophers can signal ignorance of the field to scientists who are more deeply immersed in the relevant literature. Understanding the variety of approaches to cognitive phenomena in animals is essential if such capacities are to form the foundation of scientifically-informed ethical reasoning about animals. (shrink)
In the years leading up to the Second World War the ethologists Konrad Lorenz and Nikolaas Tinbergen, created the tradition of rigorous, Darwinian research on animal behavior that developed into modern behavioral ecology. At first glance, research on specifically human behavior seems to exhibit greater discontinuity that research on animal behavior in general. The 'human ethology' of the 1960s appears to have been replaced in the early 1970s by a new approach called ‘sociobiology’. Sociobiology in its turn appears to (...) have been replaced by an approach calling itself Evolutionary Psychology. Closer examination, however, reveals a great deal of continuity between these schools. At present, whilst Evolutionary Psychology is the most visible form of evolutionary psychology, empirical and theoretical research on the evolution of mind and behavior is marked by a diversity of ideas and approaches and it is far from clear which direction(s) the field will take in future. (shrink)
Ethology brought some crucial insights and perspectives to the study of behavior, in particular the idea that behavior can be studied within a comparative-evolutionary framework by means of homologizing components of behavioral patterns and by causal analysis of behavior components and their integration. Early ethology is well-known for its extensive use of qualitative observations of animals under their natural conditions. These observations are combined with experiments that try to analyze behavioral patterns and establish specific claims about animal behavior. (...) Nowadays, there is still disagreement about the significance of observation and experiments and their relation. (shrink)
F. J. J.Buytendijk died on October 21st 1974 at the age of 87. His important contribution to the study of animal behaviour is analyzed here in relation to the historical development of animal psychology and ethology. The detailed study of his scientific production suggests, according to the authors, that some important findings, although largely not paid attention to in present-day literature, are akin to the conceptual and methodological evolution of comparative ethology.
Since Krebs and Davies’s (1978) landmark publication, it is acknowledged that behavioural ecology owes much to the ethological tradition in the study of animal behaviour. Although this assumption seems to be right—many of the first behavioural ecologists were trained in departments where ethology developed and matured—it still to be properly assessed. In this paper, I undertake to identify the approaches used by ethologists that contributed to behavioural ecology’s constitution as a field of inquiry. It is my contention that the (...) current practices in behavioural biology owe ethology something much subtler than the simple transposition of Tinbergen’s Four Problems for heuristic purposes. Demonstrating what ethology inherited from the long naturalist tradition shows the tensions that strained the field and that later led to the loss of both its unity and its specificity. It also allows for a precise delineating of what behavioural ecology picked up from the ethological practice, and it helps to cast some light on the introduction of economical thinking in behavioural sciences. (shrink)
Classical ethology encourages a causal approach to animal behaviour, using Tinbergen's four questions concerning evolution, function, mechanism and development of behaviour. It sets aside the study of mental processes, which could otherwise help to unify our picture of the relationships between animal and environment. Here the steps in research focused on the psychological meaning of a peculiar behaviour in the mouse — carrying its tail — and what this implies regarding the mouse's cognitive world are given. Initial empirical observations (...) suggested epistemic choices concerning space and object notions in the mouse; this led us to go beyond the first stage in exploring the significance of this behaviour. Later experiments showed the limitations of an explanation based on a cause-effect relationship. An interpretative model integrating a phenomenological conceptual framework is proposed. (shrink)
To establish a starting point for a phenomenological theory of the science of primate ethology, this essay first reviews how the phenomenological philosophers Aron Gurwitsch and Maurice Merleau-Ponty made use of the Gestalt psychologist Wolfgang Köhler’s description of chimpanzee consciousness and its objects and then considers primate ethology in light of the theory of the cultural sciences in the work of Gurwitsch in addition to that of Alfred Schutz.
While the academic discussion of gender and family issues often adopts the contractarian and consensual approach of liberalism, the work of Stephen R. L. Clark provides an interesting contrast. Clark turns to ethology as a guide to modes of social existence congruent with our evolutionary nature. Although an Aristotelian, Clark is not a sexist in arguing that household life is more important than what moderns call ?political? life. Clark is premature, however, in accusing liberals who defend the rights of (...) individuals of ignoring the ethological evidence. Liberals need not so emphasize the individual that they destroy the family as the locus of moral education. (shrink)
In recent times psychologists have shown a growing interest in ethological methods of data collection. At the same time ethologists are showing a growing interest in the methods of data processing as developed in personality psychology. These methods of data processing appear to be most useful to ethological research when investigating differences between individuals. Using factor analysis of aggressive behaviour as an example, it is argued that an ethological approach which focusses on individual differences may add substantial information to the (...) models derived from a (classical) ethological approach which only concerns general pictures of species. The advantages of the proposed research procedures are discussed, especially in relation to behavioural genetic and ontogenetic research. (shrink)
In this essay I argue that the evolutionary and comparative study of nonhuman animal (hereafter animal) cognition in a wide range of taxa by cognitive ethologists can readily inform discussions about animal protection and animal rights. However, while it is clear that there is a link between animal cognitive abilities and animal pain and suffering, I agree with Jeremy Bentham who claimed long ago the real question does not deal with whether individuals can think or reason but rather with whether (...) or not individuals can suffer. One of my major goals will be to make the case that the time has come to expand. The Great Ape Project (GAP) to The Great Ape/Animal Project (GA/AP) and to take seriously the moral status and rights of all animals by presupposing that all individuals should be admitted into the Community of Equals. I also argue that individuals count and that it is essential to avoid being speciesist cognitivists; it really doesn't matter whether ‘dogs ape’ or whether ‘apes dog’ when taking into account the worlds of different individual animals. Narrow-minded primatocentrism and speciesism must be resisted in our studies of animal cognition and animal protection and rights. Line-drawing into ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ species is a misleading speciesist practice that should be vigorously resisted because not only is line-drawing bad biology but also because it can have disastrous consequences for how animals are viewed and treated. Speciesist line-drawing also ignores within species individual differences. (shrink)
Cognitive ethology is the comparative study of animal cognition from an evolutionary perspective. As a sub-discipline of biology it shares interest in questions concerning the immediate causes and development of behavior. As a part of ethology it is also concerned with questions about the function and evolution of behavior. I examine some recent work in cognitive ethology, and I argue that the notions of mental content and representation are important to enable researchers to answer questions and state (...) generalizations about the function and volution of behavior. (shrink)
This paper explores Kornblith’s proposal in Knowledge and its Place in Nature that knowledge is a natural kind that can be elucidated and understood in scientific terms. Central to Kornblith’s development of this proposal is the claim that there is a single category of unreflective knowledge that is studied by cognitive ethologists and is the proper province of epistemology. This claim is challenged on the grounds that even unreflective knowledge in language-using humans reflects forms of logical reasoning that are in (...) principle unavailable to nonlinguistic animals. (shrink)
The famous ethological maxim known as “Morgan’s Canon” continues to be the subject of interpretive controversy. I reconsider Morgan’s canon in light of two questions: First, what did Morgan intend? Second, is this, or perhaps some re-interpretation of the canon, useful within cognitive ethology? As for the first issue, Morgan’s distinction between higher and lower faculties is suggestive of an early supervenience concept. As for the second, both the canon in its original form, and various recent re-readings, offer nothing (...) useful to cognitive ethology. (shrink)
The field of Artificial Intelligence has produced so many new concepts--or at least vivid and more structured versions of old concepts--that it would be surprising if none of them turned out to be of value to students of animal behavior. Which will be most valuable? I will resist the temptation to engage in either prophecy or salesmanship; instead of attempting to answer the question: "How might Artificial Intelligence inform the study of animal behavior?" I will concentrate on the obverse: "How (...) might the study of animal behavior inform research in Artificial Intelligence?". (shrink)
Typically in the philosophical literature, kinds of minds are differentiated by the range of cognitive tasks animals accomplish as opposed to the means by which they accomplish the tasks. Drawing on progress in cognitive ethology (the study of animal cognition), I argue that such an approach provides bad directions for uncovering the mark of the human mind. If the goal is to determine what makes the human mind unique, philosophers should focus on the means by which animals interact with (...) objects in their environments, and not on the sorts of tasks they are able to accomplish. (shrink)
In 2002, Evolution and Human Behavior published a study purporting to show that the differences in toy preferences commonly attributed to girls and boys can also be found in male and female vervet monkeys, tracing the origin of these differing preferences back to a common ancestor. Despite some flaws in its design and the prima facie implausibility of some of its central claims, this research received considerable attention in both scientific circles and the popular media. In what follows, I survey (...) some of the problems with this study that seem to be characteristic of research into sex differences in a particular research program in evolutionary psychology. I suggest that an epistemology of ignorance is at work that suppresses the methods and insights of an earlier research program, which emphasized the complexity and contingency that ultimately grounds the variety of human behaviors, in favor of one that has been widely criticized as empirically flawed and politically pernicious. I conclude with some speculative remarks on the persistence of this problematic research program in evolutionary psychology. (shrink)
Concern over the nature of AI is, for the tastes many AI scientists, probably overdone. In this they are like all other scientists. Working scientists worry about experiments, data, and theories, not foundational issues such as what their work is really about or whether their discipline is methodologically healthy. However, most scientists aren’t in a field that is approximately fifty years old. Even relatively new fields such as nonlinear dynamics or branches of biochemistry are in fact advances in older established (...) sciences and are therefore much more settled. Of course, by stretching things, AI can be said to have a history reaching back t o Charles Babbage, and possibly back beyond that to Leibnitz. However, all of that is best viewed as prelude. AI’s history is punctuated with the invention of the computer (and, if one wants t o stretch our history back to the 1930s, the development of the notion of computation by Turing, Church, and others). Hence, AI really began (or began in earnest) sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s (some mark the conference a t Dartmouth in the summer of 1957 as the moment of our birth). And since those years we simply have not had time to settle into a routine science attacking reasonably well understood questions (for example, many of the questions some of us regard as supreme are regarded by others as inconsequential or mere excursions). (shrink)
It has been argued that if an animal is psychologically like us, there may be more scientific reason to experiment upon it, but less moral justification to do so. Some scientists deny the existence of this dilemma, claiming that although there are scientifically valuable similarities between humans and animals that make experimentation worthwhile, humans are at the same time unique and fundamentally different. This latter response is, ironically, typical of pre-Darwinian beliefs in the relationship between human and non-human animals. Another (...) irony is that debate about such issues has facilitated the participation once more of philosophers in questions concerning experimental psychology: ironic because laboratory-oriented psychologists, especially since the turn of the last century, had been eager to establish the independence of their subject from any influence of philosophy and its investigative methods, as well as from any kind of anthropomorphism.In Britain, certainly more so than in the United States, ethical constraints have prevented the development of psychological research with animals along certain routes. By the 1980s British professional and academic societies had published codes of conduct and guidelines for their members, in part responding to public concern about the welfare of animals in the psychological laboratory. What led to the establishment of these codes and guidelines? This paper analyses the historical background against which professional concern for ethical cost in experimental animal psychology began to take shape, leading to the societies' open pronouncements of the 1980s. (shrink)
Investigators of animal behavior since the eighteenth century have sought to make their work integral to the enterprises of natural history and/or the life sciences. In their efforts to do so, they have frequently based their claims of authority on the advantages offered by the special places where they have conducted their research. The zoo, the laboratory, and the field have been major settings for animal behavior studies. The issue of the relative advantages of these different sites has been a (...) persistent one in the history of animal behavior studies up to and including the work of the ethologists of the twentieth century. (shrink)
The role of behaviour in biological evolution is examined within the context of Darwinism. All Darwinian models are based on the distinction of two mechanisms: one that permits faithful transmission of a feature from one generation to another, and another that differentially regulates the degree of this transmission. Behaviour plays a minimal role as an agent of transmission in the greater part of the animal kingdom; by contrast, the forms it may assume strongly influence the mechanisms of selection regulating the (...) different rates of transmission. We consider the decisive feature of the human species to be the existence of a phenotypical system of cultural coding characterized by precision and reliability which are the distinctive features of genetic coding in animals. We examine the consequences for the application of the Darwinian model to human history. (shrink)
Depue & Morrone-Strupinsky's (D&M-S's) implicit assumption appears to be that affiliative bonding is either strengthened or maintained with time; however, it is more realistic that it can also be weakened or destroyed by conflictive interpersonal interactions. Without specifying the mechanisms by which antagonistic stimuli deteriorate affiliative bonding, the model is incapable of accounting for the dynamics associated with this complex phenomenon.
The current view that behaviour which is manifest in non-human primates forms a baseline for human behaviours is examined with special reference to the development of gender determination. A review of 21 non-human primate societies suggests that the behaviour of the sexes relates to assumption and occupation of societal roles defined by the local group. The significance of these findings for the human condition is discussed.
Most cognitive scientists nowadays tend to think that at least some of the mind’s capacities are the product of biological evolution, yet important conceptual problems remain for all of them in order to be able to speak coherently of mental or cognitive systems as having evolved naturally. Two of these important problems concern the articulation of adequate, interesting and empirically useful concepts of homology and variation as applied to cognitive systems. However, systems in cognitive science are usually understood as functional (...) systems of some sort. Thus, talking about functional systems’ being homologous requires one’s having a solid, adequate and empirically articulated concept of functional homology—and the same is true of functional variation. Here I construct an original concept of functional homology that, in my view, adequately systematizes a number of the actual uses of the word ‘functional homology’ in a variety of biological disciplines and in ethology. I also propose a number of criteria for the empirical application of the concept that are analogous to the criteria that are actually used in comparative biology, ethology, and (possibly) molecular developmental genetics. Then I construct a concept of functional variation on the basis of this concept of homology. (shrink)
It is claimed that certain processes of individual behaviour and of interaction between individuals run parallel. Such parallels are seen along three axes: antagonism-coordination, constriction-expansion and neutral-play-like.Characteristics of ritualized behaviour and play are analysed and the two categories of behaviour are compared in detail. They are shown to differ largely in degree of expansion. They also differ along the antagonism-coordination axis. Both are play-like.
The standard behavioral index for human consciousness is the ability to report events with accuracy. While this method is routinely used for scientific and medical applications in humans, it is not easy to generalize to other species. Brain evidence may lend itself more easily to comparative testing. Human consciousness involves widespread, relatively fast low-amplitude interactions in the thalamocortical core of the brain, driven by current tasks and conditions. These features have also been found in other mammals, which suggests that consciousness (...) is a major biological adaptation in mammals. We suggest more than a dozen additional properties of human consciousness that may be used to test comparative predictions. Such homologies are necessarily more remote in non-mammals, which do not share the thalamocortical complex. However, as we learn more we may be able to make “deeper” predictions that apply to some birds, reptiles, large-brained invertebrates, and perhaps other species. (shrink)
The project of treating knowledge as an empirical object of study has gained popularity in recent naturalistic epistemology. It is argued here that the assumption that such an object of study exists is in tension with other central elements of naturalistic philosophy. Two hypotheses are considered. In the first, “knowledge” is hypothesized to refer to mental states causally responsible for the behaviour of cognitive agents. Here, the relational character of truth creates a problem. In the second hypothesis “knowledge” is hypothesized (...) to refer to mental states causally responsible for the evolutionarily successful behaviour of cognitive agents. Here, the problem lies in the fact that evolution by natural selection is not necessarily conducive to truth. The result does not necessarily amount to eliminativism, however, since the naturalist may consistently reject the condition of truth that lies behind these problems. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss the problem of animals' beliefs and the ontology associated with the idea of having non propositional content. It is argue that the beliefs of mute animals mainly serve an explanatory purpose.
This article deals with a type of functional explanation, viability explanation, that has been overlooked in recent philosophy of science. Viability explanations relate traits of organisms and their environments in terms of what an individual needs to survive and reproduce. I show that viability explanations are neither causal nor historical and that, therefore, they should be accounted for as a distinct type of explanation.
Jakob von Uexküll's theories of life -- Biography and historical background -- Nature's conformity with plan -- Umweltforschung -- Biosemiotics -- Concluding remarks -- Marking a path into the environments of animals -- The essential approach to the organism -- Heidegger and the biologists -- Paths to the world -- Disruptive behavior : Heidegger and the captivated animal -- The worldless stone -- The poor animal -- For example, three bees and a lark -- Animal morphology -- A shocking wealth (...) -- A fine line in the rupture of time -- An affected body -- The theme of the animal melody : Merleau-Ponty and the umwelt -- The structure of behavior -- A pure wake, a quiet force -- A leaf of being -- Interanimality -- The-animal-stalks-at-five-oclock : Deleuze's affection for Uexküll -- Problematic organisms -- Uexküll's ethology of affects -- The body without organs, the embryonic egg, and prebiotic soup -- Nature's refrain sung across milieus and territories -- The animal stalks. (shrink)
Neuroethology is a branch of biology that studies the neural basis of naturally occurring animal behavior. This science, particularly a recent program called computational neuroethology, has a similar structure to the interdisciplinary endeavor of cognitive science. I argue that it would be fruitful to conceive of cognitive science as the computational neuroethology of humans. However, there are important differences between the two sciences, including the fact that neuroethology is much more comparative in its perspective. Neuroethology is a biological science and (...) as such, evolution is a central notion. Its target organisms are studied in the context of their evolutionary history. The central goal of this paper is to argue that cognitive science can and ought to be more comparative in its approach to cognitive phenomena in humans. I show how the domain of cognitive phenomena can be divided up into four different classes, individuated by the relative phylogenetic uniqueness of the behavior. I then describe how comparative evidence can enrich our understanding in each of these different arenas. (shrink)
Aspects of the history of behavioural science are reviewed, pointing to its fragmented and faction-ridden nature. The emergence of evolutionary psychology (EP) is viewed in this context. With the help of a dual-layered model of behavioural control, the case is made for a more integrative perspective towards EP. The model's application to both behaviour and complex human information processing is described. Similarities in their control are noted. It is suggested that one layer of control (‘on-line’) corresponds to the encapsulated modules (...) of EP whereas the off-line controls provide the plasticity and flexibility suggested by its critics. (shrink)
The apparent incompatibility of mental states with physical explanations has long been a concern of philosophers of psychology. This incompatibility is thought to arise from the intentionality of mental states. But, Brentano notwithstanding, intentionality is an ordinary feature of higher order behavior patterns in the classical literature of ethology.
Obiettivo di questo intervento è indagare due soglie della soggettività: l’infanzia e l’animalità. Bambini e animali condividono il loro essere “assoggettati”: mentre l’adulto è soggetto tout court , il bambino lo deve ancora diventare e l’animale è trattato come polo opposto alla soggettività (oppure, ma non è molto diverso, come soggetto surrogato). Il punto di partenza è la domanda “che cosa è un bambino?”; apertamente socratica, questa domanda serve a incrinare i sedimenti di sapere depositatisi sul senso comune circa la (...) “vera natura” del soggetto. (shrink)
In this paper we argue that there is much to learn about “wild justice” and the evolutionary origins of morality – behaving fairly – by studying social play behavior in group-living mammals. Because of its relatively wide distribution among the mammals, ethological investigation of play, informed by interdisciplinary cooperation, can provide a comparative perspective on the evolution of ethical behavior that is broader than is provided by the usual focus on primate sociality. Careful analysis of social play reveals rules of (...) engagement that guide animals in their social encounters. Because of its significance in development, play may provide a foundation of fairness for other forms of cooperation that are advantageous to group living. Questions about the evolutionary roots of cooperation, fairness, trust, forgiveness, and morality are best answered by attention to the details of what animals do when they engage in social play – how they negotiate agreements to cooperate, to forgive, to behave fairly, and to develop trust. We consider questions such as why play fairly? Why did play evolve as it has? Does “being fair” mean being more fit? Do individual variations in play influence an individual’s reproductive fitness? Can we use information about the foundations of moral behavior in animals to help us understand ourselves? We conclude that there is likely to be strong selection for cooperative fair play because there are mutual benefits when individuals adopt this strategy and group stability may also be fostered. Numerous mechanisms have evolved to facilitate the initiation and maintenance of social play, to keep others engaged, so that agreeing to play fairly and the resulting benefits of doing so can be readily achieved. (shrink)
There are inconsistencies in the treatment and attitudes of human beings to animals and much confusion in thinking about what are appropriate conditions for using and keeping animals. This article outlines some of these considerations and then proposes guidelines for designing animal management systems. In the first place, the global and local ecological effects of all animal management systems must be considered and an environment designed that will not rock the biospherical boat. The main points to consider are the interrelatedness (...) of living things with each other and the environment, the self-sustaining nature of ecosystems, and the importance of diversity in the stability and maintenance of ecosystems. These can and should be taken into account when assessing animal management. They are illustrated by examples of companion/urban dogs, as well as farm, zoo, and circus animals. The environment must also be considered from the point of view of the ethological needs of the animals. There are two possible approaches to this: (1) the reductionist approach, illustrated by the choice experimental tests; and (2) a holistic, evolutionist approach that concentrates on the degree of behavioral restriction and the identification of distress. The assessment of an animal's ethological needs, and thus the ethological soundness of an environment, must take into account the species needs (communication system, species-specific characteristics of the brain receptors and cognition) and the individual's needs (his past experience). The behavioral effects of domestication and how distress can be assessed are discussed. Different ethical positions toward animals and their treatment are briefly outlined, and it is argued that, provided animals are in ecologically and ethologically sound environments, their use by human beings is ethically acceptable. The animal-human association should be characterized by symbiosis—mutual benefit—rather than a parasitic or exploitative relationship—employer to employee, rather than master to slave. (shrink)
Ethological farm programs as they exist in Switzerland are compared with environmental farm programs in respect of demand and supply. Because animal welfare is not a public good but rather a relation that causes psychological externalities, the demand for animal welfare has a different standing in economic theory than the demand for a clean environment. The supply of animal welfare by farmers, however, largely follows the patterns known from the delivery of environmental goods. Farm size, age and education, and also (...) family size and capital intensity are influencing variables. The paper concludes that the design of ethological farm programs should be based on broad public discussions as described by deliberation theorists rather than willingness-to-pay studies. (shrink)
Schizophrenia may not have reduced reproductive success in ancestral times as much as it does today, so explaining how genes for it evolved is more understandable given this prehistoric perspective. Ethological analysis of schizophrenia – understanding how basic emotional behaviors, such as dominance striving, are affected by the condition – might prove useful for comprehending and treating its social emotional symptoms.
Philosophy, in its traditional guise, addresses questions where experimental science has not yet nailed down plausible explanatory theories. Thus, the ancient Greeks pondered the nature of life, the sun, and tides, but also how we learn and make decisions. The history of science can be seen as a gradual process whereby speculative philosophy cedes intellectual space to increasingly wellgrounded experimental disciplines—first astronomy, but followed by physics, chemistry, geology, biology, archaeology, and more recently, ethology, psychology, and neuroscience. Science now encompasses (...) plausible theories in many domains, including large-scale theories about the cosmos, life, matter, and energy. The mind’s turn has now come. The classical ‘‘mind’’ questions center on free will, the self, consciousness, how thoughts can have meaning and ‘‘aboutness,’’ and how we learn and use knowledge. All these matters interlace with questions about morality: where values come from, the roles of reason and emotion in choice, and the wherefore of responsibility and punishment. The vintage mind/body problem is a legacy of Descartes: if the mind is a completely nonphysical substance, as he thought, how can it interact causally with the physical brain? Since the weight of evidence indicates that mental processes actually are processes of the brain, Descartes’ problem has disappeared. The classical mind/ body problem has been replaced with a range of questions: what brain mechanisms explain learning, decision making, self-deception, and so on. The replacement for ‘‘the mind-body problem’’ is not a single problem; it is the vast research program of cognitive neuroscience. The dominant methodology of philosophy of mind and morals in the twentieth.. (shrink)
Lorenz proposed in his (1935) articulation of a theory of behavioral instincts that the objective of ethology is to distinguish behaviors that are innate from behaviors that are learned (or acquired). Lorenzs motive was to open the investigation of certain adaptive behaviors to evolutionary theorizing. Accordingly, since innate behaviors are genetic, they are open to such investigation. By Lorenzs light an innate/acquired or learned dichotomy rested on a familiar Darwinian distinction between genes and environments. Ever since Lorenz, ascriptions of (...) innateness have become widespread in the cognitive, behavioral, and biological sciences. The trend continues despite decades of strong arguments that show, in particular, the dichotomy that Lorenz invoked in his theory of behavioral instincts is literally false: no biological trait is the product of genes alone. Some critics suggest that the failure of Lorenzs account shows that innateness is not well-defined in biology and the practice of ascribing innateness to various biological traits should be dropped from respectable science. Elsewhere (Ariew 1996) I argued that despite the arguments of critics, there really is a biological phenomenon underlying the concept of innateness. On my view, innateness is best understood in terms of C.H. Waddingtons concept of canalization, i.e. the degree to which a trait is innate is the degree to which its developmental outcome is canalized. The degree to which a developmental outcome is canalized is the degree to which the developmental process is bound to produce a particular endstate despite environmental fluctuations both in the developments initial state and during the course of development. The canalization account differs in many ways to the traditional ways that ethologists such as Konrad Lorenz originally understood the concept of innateness. Most importantly, on the canalization account the distinction between innate and acquired is not a dichotomy, as Konrad Lorenz had it, but rather a matter of degree difference that lies along a spectrum with highly canalized development outcomes on the one end and highly environmentally sensitive development outcomes on the other end. Nevertheless, I justified the canalization account on the basis of a set of desiderata or criteria that I suggested falls-out of what seemed uncontroversial about Lorenzs account of innateness (briefly): innateness is a property of a developing individual, innateness denotes environmental stability, and innate-ascriptions are useful in certain natural selection explanations (more below). From that same set of desiderata I argued (in my 1996) that neither the concept of heritability nor of norms of reactionstwo concepts from population geneticssuffice to ground innateness. In this essay, I wish to provide further support of the canalization account in two ways. First, I wish to better motivate the desiderata by revisiting a debate between Konrad Lorenz and Daniel Lehrman over the meaning and explanatory usefulness of innate ascriptions in ethology. Second, I wish to compare my canalization account of innateness with accounts proposed by contemporary philosophers, one by Stephen Stich (1975), another by Elliott Sober (forthcoming), and a third by William Wimsatt (1986). (shrink)
The development of evolutionary approaches to psychology from Classical Ethology through Sociobiology to Evolutionary Psychology is outlined and the main tenets of today's Evolutionary Psychology briefly examined: the heuristic value of evolutionary thinking for psychology, the massive modularity thesis and the monomorphic mind thesis.
This collection opens a dialogue between process philosophy and contemporary consciousness studies. Approaching consciousness from diverse disciplinary perspectives—philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, neuropathology, psychotherapy, biology, animal ethology, and physics—the contributors offer empirical and philosophical support for a model of consciousness inspired by the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947). Whitehead’s model is developed in ways he could not have anticipated to show how it can advance current debates beyond well-known sticking points. This has trenchant consequences for epistemology and suggests fresh (...) and promising perspectives on such topics as the mind-body problem, the neurobiology of consciousness, animal consciousness, the evolution of consciousness, panpsychism, the unity of consciousness, epiphenomenalism, free will, and causation. (shrink)
The idea that formal geometry derives from intuitive notions of space has appeared in many guises, most notably in Kant’s argument from geometry. Kant claimed that an a priori knowledge of spatial relationships both allows and constrains formal geometry: it serves as the actual source of our cognition of principles of geometry and as a basis for its further cultural development. The development of non-Euclidean geometries, however, seemed to deﬁnitely undermine the idea that there is some privileged relationship between our (...) spatial intuitions and mathematical theory. This paper’s aim is to look at this longstanding philosophical issue through the lens of cognitive science. Drawing on recent evidence from cognitive ethology, developmental psychology, neuroscience and anthropology, I argue for an enhanced, more informed version of the argument from geometry: humans share with other species evolved, innate intuitions of space which serve as a vital precondition for geometry as a formal science. (shrink)
Mitchell S. Green presents a systematic philosophical study of self-expression - a pervasive phenomenon of the everyday life of humans and other species, which has received scant attention in its own right. He explores the ways in which self-expression reveals our states of thought, feeling, and experience, and he defends striking new theses concerning a wide range of fascinating topics: our ability to perceive emotion in others, artistic expression, empathy, expressive language, meaning, facial expression, and speech acts. He draws on (...) insights from evolutionary game theory, ethology, the philosophy of language, social psychology, pragmatics, aesthetics, and neuroscience to present a stimulating and accessible interdisciplinary work. (shrink)
Often, the behavior of animals can be better explained and predicted, it seems, if we ascribe the capacity to have beliefs, intentions, and concepts to them. Whether we really can do so, however, is a debated issue. Particularly, Donald Davidson maintains that there is no basis in fact for ascribing propositional attitudes or concepts to animals. I will consider his and rival views, such as Colin Allen's three-part approach, for determining whether animals possess concepts. To avoid pure theoretical debate, however, (...) I will test these criteria using characteristic examples from ethology that depict a broad range of animal behavior. This will allow us to detect a series of gradations in animals' capacities, in the course of which we can think over what would count for or against an attribution of concepts and propositional attitudes to them in each single case. Self-conceit is our natural hereditary disease. Of all creatures man is the most wretched and fragile, and at once the most supercilious. ... It is by this conceit that man arrogates to himself ... divine properties, that he segregates himself from the mass of other creatures and raises himself above them .. (shrink)
In a series of classic papers, Donald Davidson put forward an ingenious argument to challenge the ascription of minds to nonlinguistic animals. Davidson's conclusions have been mercilessly demolished in the literature by cognitive ethologists, but none of them have directly addressed Davidson's argument. First, this paper is an attempt to elucidate and evaluate Davidson's central argument for denying minds to nonlinguistic animals. Davidson's central argument puts forth a challenge to those of us who want to attribute minds to nonlinguistic animals. (...) Second, this paper uses counterexamples offered in the cognitive ethology literature to meet Davidson's challenge directly. (shrink)
It is a characteristic feature of our mental make-up that the same perceptual input situation can simultaneously elicit conflicting mental perspectives. This ability pervades our perceptual and cognitive domains. Striking examples are the dual character of pictures in picture perception, pretend play, or the ability to employ metaphors and allegories. I argue that traditional approaches, beyond being inadequate on principle grounds, are theoretically ill equipped to deal with these achievements. I then outline a theoretical perspective that has emerged from a (...) theoretical convergence of perceptual psychology, ethology, linguistics, and developmental research. On the basis of this framework, I argue that corresponding achievements are brought forth by a specific type of functional architecture whose core features are as follows: (1) a perceptual system that is biologically furnished with a rich system of conceptual forms, (2) a triggering relation between the sensory input and conceptual forms by which the same sensory input can be exploited by different types or systems of conceptual forms, and (3) computational principles for handling semantically underspecified conceptual forms. Characteristic features of the proposed theoretical framework are pointed out using the Heider–Simmel phenomenon as an example. (shrink)
In recent years both philosophers and scientists have been sceptical about the existence of animal minds. This is in distinction to Hume who claimed that '...no truth appears to me more evident, than that beasts are endow'd with thought and reason as well as men'. I argue that Hume is correct about the epistemological salience of our ordinary practices of ascribing mental states to animals. The reluctance of contemporary philosophers and scientists to embrace the view that animals have minds is (...) primarily a fact about their philosophy and science rather than a fact about animals. The recognition of this fact is the beginning of any serious effort to develop a science of cognitive ethology. (shrink)
One of the earliest issues in cognitive ethology concerned the meaning of animal signals. In the 1970s and 1980s this debate was most active with respect to the question of whether animal alarm calls convey information about the emotional states of animals or whether they “refer” directly to predators in the environment (Seyfarth, Cheney, & Marler 1980; see Radick 2007 for a historical account), but other areas, such as vocalizations about food and social contact, were also widely discussed. In (...) the 1990s, ethologists largely came to a consensus that such calls were “functionally referential” (Evans & Marler 1995) even if they did not satisfy all the semantic requirements imposed by philosophers of language. More recently, though, it has been argued that ethologists should eschew the concept of reference and return to a focus on the affective aspects of animal communication (Rendall & Owren 2002). We propose to take a new look at this debate in the light of recent developments in the philosophy of language under the heading of “Neo-Expressivism” (Bar-On 2004). This view provides two different senses.. (shrink)
Cruelty is the deliberate infliction of physical or psychological pain on other living creatures, sometimes indifferently, but often with delight. Though cruelty is an overwhelming presence in the world, there is no neurobiological or psychological explanation for its ubiquity and reward value. This target article attempts to provide such explanations by describing three stages in the development of cruelty. Stage 1 is the development of the predatory adaptation from the Palaeozoic to the ethology of predation in canids, felids, and (...) primates. Stage 2, through palaeontological and anthropological evidence, traces the emergence of the hunting adaptation in the Pliocene, its development in early hominids, and its emotional loading in surviving forager societies. This adaptation provides an explanation for the powerful emotions – high arousal and strong affect – evoked by the pain-blood-death complex. Stage 3 is the emergence of cruelty about 1.5 million years ago as a hominid behavioural repertoire that promoted fitness through the maintenance of personal and social power. The resulting cultural elaborations of cruelty in war, in sacrificial rites, and as entertainment are examined to show the historical and cross-cultural stability of the uses of cruelty for punishment, amusement, and social control. Effective violence prevention must begin with perpetrators, not victims. If the upstream approaches to violence prevention advocated by the public-health model are to be effective, psychologists must be able to provide violence prevention workers with a fine-grained understanding of perpetrator gratifications. This is a distasteful task that will compel researchers to interact with torturers and abusers, and to acknowledge that their gratifications are rooted in a common human past. It is nonetheless an essential step in developing effective strategies for the primary prevention of violence. Key Words: compassion; cruelty; entertainment industry; evolutionary psychology; intraspecific killing; pain; predation; punishment; torture; violence prevention. Correspondence:c1 Correspondence to: West Hill House, 6 Swains Lane, Highgate, London N6 6QS, United Kingdom. (shrink)
In the past decades, recent paradigm shifts in ethology, psychology, and the social sciences have given rise to various new disciplines like cognitive ethology and evolutionary psychology. These disciplines use concepts and theories of evolutionary biology to understand and explain the design, function and origin of the brain. I shall argue that there are several good reasons why this approach could also apply to human mathematical abilities. I will review evidence from various disciplines (cognitive ethology, cognitive psychology, (...) cognitive archaeology and neuropsychology) that suggests that the human capacity for mathematics is a category-specific domain of knowledge, hard-wired in the brain, which can be explained as the result of natural selection. (shrink)
Ethical relativists and subjectivists hold that fact must be distinguished from value, ‘is’ from ‘ought’ and reason from emotion. Their distinctions have been called into question, notably by Philippa Foot (Natural Goodness 2001), also by Alasdair Macintyre (Dependent Rational Animals 1999). Reason in the form of the life sciences—ethology, biology—indicates that what is good or bad for an individual animal and its species are matters of objective fact. There is nothing relativistic about the idea that fresh meat is good (...) for wolves and it is a fact, a paradigm fact, that polluted water is bad for dolphins. Moreover what is good for an animal is often something that is good about it. Sharp ears and great speed are good for deer and are also what makes a deer a good specimen of its kind. These general remarks apply to the human animal as well as to ‘ordinary’ animals. The good and bad discussed by moral philosophers cannot be radically different from the good and bad known through reason. But if it were it would normally be a remarkably indigent field of study. (shrink)