The Logical Problem and the Theoretician's Dilemma

Hayley Clatterbuck
University of Rochester
The theory-theory of human uniqueness posits that the capacity to theorize, in a way strongly analogous to theorizing in scientific practice, was a key innovation in the hominid lineage and was responsible for many of our unique cognitive traits. One of the central arguments that its proponents have used to support the claim that animals are not theorists, the logical problem, bears strong similarities to Hempel's theoretician's dilemma, which purports to show that theories are unnecessary. This similarity threatens to undermine both the claim that theorizing serves a unique, adaptive role in human cognition and our ability to test for the presence of theories. I examine two historical responses to the theoretician's dilemma and argue that they open up strategies for experimentally testing for theoretical ability in other animals.
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DOI 10.1111/phpr.12331
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Primate Cognition.Amanda Seed & Michael Tomasello - 2010 - Topics in Cognitive Science 2 (3):407-419.
Causation, Prediction, and Search.Peter Spirtes, Clark Glymour & Richard Scheines - 1996 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47 (1):113-123.

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