Disagreement & classification in comparative cognitive science

Noûs (forthcoming)
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Comparative cognitive science often involves asking questions like ‘Do nonhumans have C?’ where C is a capacity we take humans to have. These questions frequently generate unproductive disagreements, in which one party affirms and the other denies that nonhumans have the relevant capacity on the basis of the same evidence. I argue that these questions can be productively understood as questions about natural kinds: do nonhuman capacities fall into the same natural kinds as our own? Understanding such questions in this way has several advantages: it preserves the intuition that these are substantive empirical questions worth asking; it helps us to understand why they so frequently give rise to disagreements of the kind described; and it provides clues about how to diagnose and resolve them.

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Alexandria Boyle
London School of Economics

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References found in this work

Verbal Disputes.David J. Chalmers - 2011 - Philosophical Review 120 (4):515-566.
Natural Kindness.Matthew H. Slater - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (2):375-411.
Unity of Science.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2021 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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