Philosophical Psychology 33 (2):206-227 (2019)

Authors
Erik Nelson
Dalhousie University
Abstract
While there has been significant philosophical debate on whether nonlinguistic animals can possess conceptual capabilities, less time has been devoted to considering 'talking' animals, such as parrots. When they are discussed, their capabilities are often downplayed as mere mimicry. The most explicit philosophical example of this can be seen in Brandom's frequent comparisons of parrots and thermostats. Brandom argues that because parrots (like thermostats) cannot grasp the implicit inferential connections between concepts, their vocal articulations do not actually have any conceptual content. In contrast, I argue that Pepperberg's work with Alex (and other African grey parrots) provides evidence that the vocal articulations of at least some parrots have conceptual content. Using Frege's insight that numbers assert something about a concept, I argue that Alex's ability to answer the question "How many?" depended upon a prior grasp of conceptual content. Developing this claim, I argue that Alex's arithmetical abilities show that he was capable of using numbers as both concepts and objects. Frege's theoretical insight and Pepperberg's empirical work provide reason to reconsider the capabilities of parrots, as well as what sorts of tasks provide evidence for conceptual content.
Keywords Animal Cognition  Concepts  Frege  Inferentialism  Parrots
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2019
DOI 10.1080/09515089.2019.1688777
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Foundations of Arithmetic.Gottlob Frege - 1953 - Evanston: Ill., Northwestern University Press.
Thinking Without Words.José Luis Bermúdez - 2003 - Oxford University Press.
Rational Animals.Donald Davidson - 1982 - Dialectica 36 (4):317-28.

View all 21 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Animal Minds and the Possession of Concepts.Albert Newen & Andreas Bartels - 2007 - Philosophical Psychology 20 (3):283 – 308.
Motivating Inferentialism: Comments on M Aking It Explicit.John McDowell - 2005 - Pragmatics and Cognition 13 (1):121-140.
Motivating Inferentialism: Comments On.John McDowell - 2005 - Pragmatics and Cognition 13 (1):121-140.
Frege on Conceptual and Propositional Analysis.Mark Textor - 2010 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 81 (1):235-257.
Frege on Cardinality.Lila Luce - 1988 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 48 (3):415-434.
The Myth of Concept Publicity.Laura Duhau Girola - 2012 - Ideas Y Valores 61 (148):101-113.
On Frege's Two Notions of Sense.Guillermo E. Rosado Haddock - 1986 - History and Philosophy of Logic 7 (1):31-41.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2019-01-16

Total views
408 ( #18,863 of 2,427,415 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
155 ( #3,503 of 2,427,415 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes