Triangulation and the Beasts

Philosophical debates about the mental life of non-human animals provide an especially vivid illustration of how radically philosophers‘ intuitions concerning other minds can diverge. Do animals have mental states? Of what sort? Do any of the beasts have minds that overlap with ours? Is there any significant continuity between their minds and ours? Davidson is well known for arguing that, for conceptual reasons, at least when it comes to beliefs and other propositional attitudes, non-human animals differ from us in having none. For example, he has argued that having beliefs requires having the concept of belief, which in turn requires language (Davidson (2001a), (2001b)). He has also argued that possession of any propositional attitude presupposes possession of belief, and that attributing any propositional attitude to a creature requires crediting them with the concepts that figure in the specification of the attitude‘s content (Davidson (2001a), (2001b) (2004)). Davidson‘s arguments are tantalizing, but also puzzling, and far from explicit; and they have been subjected to sharp scrutiny and powerful objections from a number of authors in recent years
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