What use is Morgan's canon?

Philosophical Psychology 18 (4):399-414 (2005)

Authors
Martin Montminy
University of Oklahoma
Abstract
Morgan's canon can be construed as claiming that an intentional explanation of a behavior should be ruled out if there exists an explanation of this behavior in terms of 'lower' mechanisms. Unfortunately, Morgan's conception of higher and lower faculties is based on dubious evolutionary considerations. I examine alternative interpretations of the terms 'higher' and 'lower', and show that none can turn the canon into a principle that is both correct and useful in drawing the line between thinkers and non-thinkers. In the process, I identify a number of problems that an adequate formulation of the canon should avoid. I then consider two more recent versions of the canon, proposed by Elliott Sober and Jonathan Bennett. Both are found unsatisfactory, but I argue that a version of Bennett's unity condition that is restricted to the attribution of recognitional concepts is on the right track
Keywords Canon  Cognition  Explanation  Intentional  Mental  Metaphysics  Bennett, Jonathan  Morgan, Conwy Lloyd  Sober, Elliott
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DOI 10.1080/09515080500229837
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References found in this work BETA

The Triumph of the Darwinian Method.Michael T. Ghiselin - 1973 - Philosophy of Science 40 (3):466-467.
Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior.Robert Richards - 1989 - Journal of the History of Biology 22 (2):361-367.

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The Varieties of Parsimony in Psychology.Mike Dacey - 2016 - Mind and Language 31 (4):414-437.
Content and Contagion in Yawning.John Sarnecki - 2008 - Philosophical Psychology 21 (6):721 – 737.

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