Abstract: I address the issue of how pretence emerged in evolution by reviewing the (mostly negative) evidence about pretend behaviour in non-human primates, and proposing a model of the type of information processing abilities that humans had to evolve in order to be able to pretend. Non-human primates do not typically pretend: there are just a few examples of potential pretend actions mostly produced by apes. The best, but still rare, examples are produced by so-called 'enculturated' apes (reared by humans) (...) and among them specially those that have been systematically trained to use symbols (so-called 'linguistic' apes). A hypothesis that would explain the lack of pretence in apes is that they lack the mentalistic ability of theory of mind. However, in the last years apes have been demonstrated to possess relatively sophisticated social cognitive skills, some of them ontogenetically appearing in humans alongside with or even after pretend play. As a solution to the paradox, I discuss a model according to which pretence is supported by a mechanism capable of computing intentional relations with non-existing objects or properties (Intentional non-existence), as opposed to mechanisms computing intentional relations with existing, although not necessarily currently perceived, objects (Intentional availability). Apes possess the latter, which allows them to solve a variety of theory of mind tasks, but not the former, which typically prevents them from developing pretence. (shrink)
The main aim of this paper is to highlight the need to address the conceptual problem of “implicit knowledge” or “implicit cognition” —a notion especially important in the study of the nonverbal minds of animals and infants. We review some uses of the term ‘implicit’ in psychology and allied disciplines,and conclude that conceptual clarification of this notion is not only lacking, but largely avoided and reduced to a methodological problem. We propose that this elusive notion is central in the study (...) not only of animal and infant minds, but also the human adult mind. Some promising approaches in developmental and evolutionary psychology towards innovative conceptualisation of implicit knowledge remain conceptually underdeveloped and in need of reconsideration and re-elaboration. We conclude by suggesting that the challenge of implicit cognition and nonverbal minds will only be solved through a concerted interdisciplinary approach between psychology and other disciplines. (shrink)
Peer review is a widely accepted instrument for raising the quality of science. Peer review limits the enormous unstructured influx of information and the sheer amount of dubious data, which in its absence would plunge science into chaos. In particular, peer review offers the benefit of eliminating papers that suffer from poor craftsmanship or methodological shortcomings, especially in the experimental sciences. However, we believe that peer review is not always appropriate for the evaluation of controversial hypothetical science. We argue that (...) the process of peer review can be prone to bias towards ideas that affirm the prior convictions of reviewers and against innovation and radical new ideas. Innovative hypotheses are thus highly vulnerable to being “filtered out” or made to accord with conventional wisdom by the peer review process. Consequently, having introduced peer review, the Elsevier journal Medical Hypotheses may be unable to continue its tradition as a radical journal allowing discussion of improbable or unconventional ideas. Hence we conclude by asking the publisher to consider re-introducing the system of editorial review to Medical Hypotheses. (shrink)
I will center the discussion of the Hart-Fuller debate on the five claims Hart mentions might be understood as legal positivisms main tenets: (1) the command theory; (2) the no necessary connection thesis; (3) the methodological claim; (4) the charge of positivism as formalism and the problem of interpretation; and (5) the meta-ethical confusion. In light of these five claims, I will explore whether the exchange of views between Hart and Fuller in 1957 truly amounted to a debate. Sorting out (...) this issue is the aim of this article. (shrink)
This commentary criticizes nonverbal methods of assessing theory-of-mind on the basis of prior training of the critical response because they would encourage simple, nonmentalistic, associative solutions even in subjects with mentalistic capacities. I propose instead a new experimental paradigm based upon the use of spontaneous responses in less artificial situations. This method has already provided positive evidence of some level of ToM understanding in nonhuman primates.
This paper reports a longitudinal study on the ontogeny of triadic cooperative interactions in a hand-reared lowland gorilla from 6 months to 36 months of age. Using the behavioural categories developed by Hubley and Trevarthen to characterize the origins of “secondary intersubjectivity” in human babies between 8-12 months of age, I chart the emergence of comparable coordinations of gestures and actions with objects and acts of dyadic communication. The findings show that the categories and concepts of secondary intersubjectivity are applicable (...) to the gorilla, who engages with people in cooperative actions with objects. The ontogeny of triadic interaction in the gorilla was very similar to that described in human infants, but more extended in time and with some peculiarities, such as the absence of pointing and showing gestures, some of whose functions might be taken over by contact gestures which in human infants may appear later in development. The results do not support claims of human uniqueness in the development of cooperative action, but suggest a heterochrony in some aspects of the ontogeny of triadic interactions leading to a divergence between gorilla and human infants within secondary intersubjectivity. (shrink)