Animal Behavior

In Michael Ruse (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Biology. Oxford University Press. pp. 327--348 (2008)
Few areas of scientific investigation have spawned more alternative approaches than animal behavior: comparative psychology, ethology, behavioral ecology, sociobiology, behavioral endocrinology, behavioral neuroscience, neuroethology, behavioral genetics, cognitive ethology, developmental psychobiology---the list goes on. Add in the behavioral sciences focused on the human animal, and you can continue the list with ethnography, biological anthropology, political science, sociology, psychology (cognitive, social, developmental, evolutionary, etc.), and even that dismal science, economics. Clearly, no reasonable-length chapter can do justice to such a varied collection. We have opted therefore to focus on three of these subdisciplines and to provide a somewhat historical tour of them, mentioning along the way the philosophical points that are of particular interest to us, but allowing the development of these points to be limited only by the imaginations of our readers. For readers seeking a more-traditional historical survey, see Dewsbury (1984a, b) and Burghardt (1985a). Our chosen brief is to write about comparative psychology, ethology, and cognitive ethology, although other approaches, especially neuroscience, will be mentioned where appropriate. These sciences are philosophically significant because they are enmeshed in ancient philosophical questions about the nature of mind and purposeful action and about the differences between humans and other animals. These sciences are also clustered because of their attention to mechanistic explanations of individual animal behavior as opposed to attempting to capture regularities at a population level, such as the game-theoretic strategic models popular among behavioral ecologists
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