Andrews argues for a pluralistic folk psychology that employs different kinds of practices and different kinds of cognitive tools (including personality trait attribution, stereotype activation, inductive reasoning about past behavior, and ...
Observations of animals engaging in apparently moral behavior have led academics and the public alike to ask whether morality is shared between humans and other animals. Some philosophers explicitly argue that morality is unique to humans, because moral agency requires capacities that are only demonstrated in our species. Other philosophers argue that some animals can participate in morality because they possess these capacities in a rudimentary form. Scientists have also joined the discussion, and their views are just as varied as (...) the philosophers’. Some research programs examine whether animals countenance specific human norms, such as fairness. Other research programs investigate the cognitive and affective capacities thought to be necessary for morality. There are two sets of concerns that can be raised by these debates. They sometimes suffer from there being no agreed upon theory of morality and no clear account of whether there is a demarcation between moral and social behavior; that is, they lack a proper philosophical foundation. They also sometimes suffer from there being disagreement about the psychological capacities evident in animals. Of these two sets of concerns—the nature of the moral and the scope of psychological capacities—we aim to take on only the second. In this chapter we defend the claim that animals have three sets of capacities that, on some views, are taken as necessary and foundational for moral judgment and action. These are capacities of care, capacities of autonomy, and normative capacities. Care, we argue, is widely found among social animals. Autonomy and normativity are more recent topics of empirical investigation, so while there is less evidence of these capacities at this point in our developing scientific knowledge, the current data is strongly suggestive. (shrink)
To answer tantalizing questions such as whether animals are moral or how morality evolved, I propose starting with a somewhat less fraught question: do animals have normative cognition? Recent psychological research suggests that normative thinking, or ought-thought, begins early in human development. Recent philosophical research suggests that folk psychology is grounded in normative thought. Recent primatology research finds evidence of sophisticated cultural and social learning capacities in great apes. Drawing on these three literatures, I argue that the human variety of (...) social cognition and moral cognition encompass the same cognitive capacities and that the nonhuman great apes may also be normative beings. To make this argument, I develop an account of animal social norms that shares key properties with Cristina Bicchieri's account of social norms but which lowers the cognitive requirements for having a social norm. I propose a set of four early developing prerequisites implicated in social cognition that make up what I call naïve normativity: the ability to identify agents, sensitivity to in-group/out-group differences, the capacity for social learning of group traditions, and responsiveness to appropriateness. I review the ape cognition literature and present preliminary empirical evidence supporting the existence of social norms and naïve normativity in great apes. While there is more empirical work to be done, I hope to have offered a framework for studying normativity in other species, and I conclude that we should be open to the possibility that normative cognition is yet another ancient cognitive endowment that is not human-unique. (shrink)
We examine the claim that the methodology of psychology leads to a bias in animal cognition research against attributing “anthropomorphic” properties to animals . This charge is examined in light of a debate on the role of folk psychology between primatologists who emphasize similarities between humans and other apes, and those who emphasize differences. We argue that while in practice there is sometimes bias, either in the formulation of the null hypothesis or in the preference of Type-II errors over Type-I (...) errors, the bias is not the result of proper use of the Neyman and Pearson hypothesis testing method. Psychologists’ preference for false negatives over false positives cannot justify a preference for avoiding anthropomorphic errors over anthropectic errors. (shrink)
The study of animal cognition raises profound questions about the minds of animals and philosophy of mind itself. Aristotle argued that humans are the only animal to laugh, but in recent experiments rats have also been shown to laugh. In other experiments, dogs have been shown to respond appropriately to over two hundred words in human language. In this introduction to the philosophy of animal minds Kristin Andrews introduces and assesses the essential topics, problems and debates as they cut across (...) animal cognition and philosophy of mind. She addresses the following key topics: what is cognition, and what is it to have a mind? What questions should we ask to determine whether behaviour has a cognitive basis? the science of animal minds explained: ethology, behaviourist psychology, and cognitive ethology rationality in animals animal consciousness: what does research into pain and the emotions reveal? What can empirical evidence about animal behaviour tell us about philosophical theories of consciousness? does animal cognition involve belief and concepts; do animals have a ‘Language of Thought’? animal communication other minds: do animals attribute ‘mindedness’ to other creatures? moral reasoning and ethical behaviour in animals animal cognition and memory. Extensive use of empirical examples and case studies is made throughout the book. These include Cheney and Seyfarth’s ververt monkey research, Thorndike’s cat puzzle boxes, Jensen’s research into humans and chimpanzees and the ultimatum game, Pankseep and Burgdorf’s research on rat laughter, and Clayton and Emery’s research on memory in scrub-jays. Additional features such as chapter summaries, annotated further reading and a glossary make this an indispensable introduction to those teaching philosophy of mind, animal cognition. It will also be an excellent resource for those in fields such as ethology, biology and psychology. (shrink)
In this brief, we argue that there is a diversity of ways in which humans (Homo sapiens) are ‘persons’ and there are no non-arbitrary conceptions of ‘personhood’ that can include all humans and exclude all nonhuman animals. To do so we describe and assess the four most prominent conceptions of ‘personhood’ that can be found in the rulings concerning Kiko and Tommy, with particular focus on the most recent decision, Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc v Lavery.
Traditionally, discussions of moral participation – and in particular moral agency – have focused on fully formed human actors. There has been some interest in the development of morality in humans, as well as interest in cultural differences when it comes to moral practices, commitments, and actions. However, until relatively recently, there has been little focus on the possibility that nonhuman animals have any role to play in morality, save being the objects of moral concern. Moreover, when nonhuman cases are (...) considered as evidence of moral agency or subjecthood, there has been an anthropocentric tendency to focus on those behaviors that inform our attributions of moral agency to humans. For example, some argue that the ability to evaluate the principles upon which a moral norm is grounded is required for full moral agency. Certainly, if a moral agent must understand what makes an action right or wrong, then most nonhuman animals would not qualify (and perhaps some humans too). However, if we are to understand the evolution of moral psychology and moral practice, we need to turn our attention to the foundations of full moral agency. We must first pay attention to the more broadly normative practices of other animals. Here, we begin that project by considering evidence that great apes and cetaceans participate in normative practices. (shrink)
The view that folk psychology is primarily mindreading beliefs and desires has come under challenge in recent years. I have argued that we also understand others in terms of individual properties such as personality traits and generalizations from past behavior, and in terms of group properties such as stereotypes and social norms (Andrews 2012). Others have also argued that propositional attitude attribution isn’t necessary for predicting others’ behavior, because this can be done in terms of taking Dennett’s Intentional Stance (Zawidzki (...) 2013), appealing to social structures (Maibom 2007), shared norms (McGeer 2007) or via solution based heuristics for reaching equilibrium between social partners (Morton 2003). But it isn’t only prediction that can be done without thinking about what others think; we can explain and understand people in terms of their personality traits, habitual behaviors, and social practices as well. The decentering of propositional attitude attributions goes hand in hand with a move away from taking folk psychology to be primarily a predictive device. While experiments examining folk psychological abilities in children, infants, and other species still rest on asking subjects to predict behavior, theoretical investigations as to the evolutionary function of folk psychology have stressed the role of explanation (Andrews 2012) and regulative functions (McGeer 2007, Zawidzki 2013, Fenici 2011). In this paper I argue that an explanatory role for folk psychology is also a regulative role, and that language is not required for these regulative functions. I will start by drawing out the relationship between prediction, explanation, and regulation of behavior according to both mindreading approaches to folk psychology and the pluralistic account I defend. I will argue that social cognition does not take the form of causal reasoning so much as it does normative reasoning, and will introduce the folk psychological spiral. Then I will examine the cognitive resources necessary for participating in the folk psychological spiral, and I will argue that these cognitive resources can be had without language. There is preliminary evidence that some other species understand one another through a normative lens that, through looping effects, creates expectations that community members strive to live up to. (shrink)
I suggest a pluralistic account of folk psychology according to which not all predictions or explanations rely on the attribution of mental states, and not all intentional actions are explained by mental states. This view of folk psychology is supported by research in developmental and social psychology. It is well known that people use personality traits to predict behavior. I argue that trait attribution is not shorthand for mental state attributions, since traits are not identical to beliefs or desires, and (...) an understanding of belief or desire is not necessary for using trait attributions. In addition, we sometimes predict and explain behavior through appeal to personality traits that the target wouldn't endorse, and so could not serve as the target's reasons. I conclude by suggesting that our folk psychology includes the notion that some behavior is explained by personality traits—who the person is—rather than by beliefs and desires—what the person thinks. Consequences of this view for the debate between simulation theory and theory theory, as well as the debate on chimpanzee theory of mind are discussed. (shrink)
I argue that having a theory of mind requires having at least implicit knowledge of the norms of the community, and that an implicit understanding of the normative is what drives the development of a theory of mind. This conclusion is defended by two arguments. First I argue that a theory of mind likely did not develop in order to predict behavior, because before individuals can use propositional attitudes to predict behavior, they have to be able to use them in (...) explanations of behavior. Rather, I suggest that the need to explain behavior in terms of reasons is the primary function of a theory of mind. I further argue that in order to be motivated to offer explanations of behavior, one must have at least an implicit understanding of appropriate behavior, which implies at least an implicit understanding of norms. The second argument looks at three cases of nonhuman animal societies that appear to operate within a system of norms. While there is no evidence that any species other than humans have a theory of mind, there is evidence that other species have sensitivity to the normative. Finally, I propose an explanation for the priority of norms over a theory of mind: given an understanding of norms in a society, and the ability to recognize and sanction violations, there developed a need to understand actions that violated the norms, and such explanations could only be given in terms of a person's reasons. There is a significant benefit to being able to explain behavior that violates norms, because explanations of the right sort can also serve to justify behavior. (shrink)
Donald Davidson's account of interpretation purports to be a priori , though I argue that the empirical facts about interpretation, theory of mind, and autism must be considered when examining the merits of Davidson's view. Developmental psychologists have made plausible claims about the existence of some people with autism who use language but who are unable to interpret the minds of others. This empirical claim undermines Davidson's theoretical claims that all speakers must be interpreters of other speakers and that one (...) need not be a speaker in order to be a thinker. The falsity of these theses has consequences for other parts of Davidson's world-view; for example, it undermines his argument against animal thought. (shrink)
While philosophers have been interested in animals since ancient times, in the last few decades the subject of animal minds has emerged as a major topic in philosophy. _The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Animal Minds_ is an outstanding reference source to the key topics, problems and debates in this exciting subject and is the first collection of its kind. Comprising nearly fifty chapters by a team of international contributors, the _Handbook_ is divided into eight parts: Mental representation Reasoning and (...) metacognition Consciousness Mindreading Communication Social cognition and culture Association, simplicity, and modeling Ethics. Within these sections central issues, debates and problems are examined, including: whether and how animals represent and reason about the world; how animal cognition differs from human cognition; whether animals are conscious; whether animals represent their own mental states or those of others; how animals communicate; the extent to which animals have cultures; how to choose among competing models and explanations of animal behavior; and whether animals are moral agents and/or moral patients; The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Animal Minds is essential reading for students and researchers in philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology, ethics and related disciplines such as ethology, biology, psychology, linguistics and anthropology. (shrink)
I respond to an argument presented by Daniel Povinelli and Jennifer Vonk that the current generation of experiments on chimpanzee theory of mind cannot decide whether chimpanzees have the ability to reason about mental states. I argue that Povinelli and Vonk’s proposed experiment is subject to their own criticisms and that there should be a more radical shift away from experiments that ask subjects to predict behavior. Further, I argue that Povinelli and Vonk’s theoretical commitments should lead them to accept (...) this new approach, and that experiments which offer subjects the opportunity to look for explanations for anomalous behavior should be explored. (shrink)
: I respond to an argument presented by Daniel Povinelli and Jennifer Vonk that the current generation of experiments on chimpanzee theory of mind cannot decide whether chimpanzees have the ability to reason about mental states. I argue that Povinelli and Vonk's proposed experiment is subject to their own criticisms and that there should be a more radical shift away from experiments that ask subjects to predict behavior. Further, I argue that Povinelli and Vonk's theoretical commitments should lead them to (...) accept this new approach, and that experiments which offer subjects the opportunity to look for explanations for anomalous behavior should be explored. (shrink)
In the context of animal cognitive research, anthropomorphism is defined as the attribution of uniquely human mental characteristics to animals. Those who worry about anthropomorphism in research, however, are immediately confronted with the question of which properties are uniquely human. One might think that researchers must first hypothesize the existence of a feature in an animal before they can, with warrant, claim that the property is uniquely human. But all too often, this isn't the approach. Rather, there is an a (...) priori argument against attributing some properties to animals. Which features are thought to be uniquely human on a priori grounds? The class can be quite large, including psychological states such as beliefs and desires, personality traits such as confidence or timidity, emotions such as happiness or anger, social organizational properties such as culture or friendship, moral behavior such as punishment or rape. For convenience, I will refer to the members of the class as "psychological properties". One critic includes feeling, purpose, intentionality, consciousness, and even cognition in his list of psychological properties that are incorrectly attributed to animals (Kennedy 1992). Among the critics, there is quite a bit of disagreement about what counts as an anthropomorphic attribution, and this alone should raise questions about the charge. We can identify two different questions about the practice of attributing psychological properties to animals within a scientific context. First we can ask whether it is scientifically respectable to examine questions about the mental, psychological, cultural, etc. states of animals. Those who bemoan anthropomorphism think that we ought not even ask such questions. I will look at the worries about asking the question, and argue that there is no special problem with it. The second question arises with an affirmative answer to the first. Given that it is scientifically respectable to examine whether an animal has a psychological property, there must be some scientifically respectable method for doing the examination.. (shrink)
According to the theory of natural pedagogy, humans have a set of cognitive adaptations specialized for transmitting and receiving knowledge through teaching; young children can acquire generalizable knowledge from ostensive signals even in a single interaction, and adults also actively teach young children. In this article, we critically examine the theory and argue that ostensive signals do not always allow children to learn generalizable knowledge more efficiently, and that the empirical evidence provided in favor of the theory of natural pedagogy (...) does not defend the theory as presented, nor does it support a weakened version of the theory. We argue that these problems arise because the theory of natural pedagogy is grounded in a misguided assumption, namely that learning about the world and learning about people are two distinct and independent processes. If, on the other hand, we see the processes as interrelated, then we have a better explanation for the empirical evidence. (shrink)
Since the question “Do chimpanzees have a theory of mind?” was raised in 1978, scientists have attempted to answer it, and philosophers have attempted to clarify what the question means and whether it has been, or could be, answered. Mindreading or theory of mind refers to the ability to attribute mental states to other individuals. Some versions of the question focus on whether chimpanzees engage in belief reasoning or can think about false belief, and chimpanzees have been given nonverbal versions (...) of the false belief moved-object task. Other versions of the question focus on whether chimpanzees understand what others can see, and chimpanzees can pass those tests. From this data, some claim that chimpanzees know something about perceptions, but nothing about belief. Others claim that chimpanzees do not understand belief or perceptions, because the data fails to overcome the “logical problem,” and permits an alternative, non-mentalistic interpretation. I will argue that neither view is warranted. Belief reasoning in chimpanzees has focused on examining false belief in a moved object scenario, but has largely ignored other functions of belief. The first part of the paper is an argument for how to best understand belief reasoning and offers suggestion for future investigation. The second part of the paper addresses and diffuses the “logical problem.” I conclude that chimpanzees may reason about belief, but that there is already compelling evidence that they reason about perceptions. (shrink)
In December 2013, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) filed a petition for a common law writ of habeas corpus in the New York State Supreme Court on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee living alone in a cage in a shed in rural New York (Barlow, 2017). Under animal welfare laws, Tommy’s owners, the Laverys, were doing nothing illegal by keeping him in those conditions. Nonetheless, the NhRP argued that given the cognitive, social, and emotional capacities of chimpanzees, Tommy’s confinement constituted (...) a profound wrong that demanded remedy by the courts. Soon thereafter, the NhRP filed habeas corpus petitions on behalf of Kiko, another chimpanzee housed alone in Niagara Falls, and Hercules and Leo, two chimpanzees held in research facilities at Stony Brook University. Thus began the legal struggle to move these chimpanzees from captivity to a sanctuary, an effort that has led the NhRP to argue in multiple courts before multiple judges. The central point of contention has been whether Tommy, Kiko, Hercules, and Leo have legal rights. To date, no judge has been willing to issue a writ of habeas corpus on their behalf. Such a ruling would mean that these chimpanzees have rights that confinement might violate. Instead, the judges have argued that chimpanzees cannot be bearers of legal rights because they are not, and cannot be persons. In this book we argue that chimpanzees are persons because they are autonomous. (shrink)
Personhood is not a redundant category, but a social cluster kind. On this view, chimpanzees have their own kind of personhood profile. Seeing that chimpanzees have a personhood profile allows us to argue that chimpanzees like Tommy are individuals who deserve rights under the law. If chimpanzee personhood is a matter of public policy that needs to be decided by society, then learning more about the person profiles of chimpanzees will be essential in making this case. As the public learns (...) what scientists have come to see, and with public conversations about what counts as a person, our society can make another ethical transformation that will be recognized by the courts. But without the metaphysical personhood concept to rely on, we will have a difficult time showing that chimpanzees should count as persons under the law. (shrink)
Biology and Philosophy, forthcoming. Following recent arguments that there is no logical problem with attributing mental or agential states to animals, I address the epistemological problem of how to go about making accurate attributions. I suggest that there is a two-part general method for determining whether a psychological property can be accurately attributed to a member of another species: folk expert opinion and functionality. This method is based on well-known assessments used to attribute mental states to humans who are unable (...) to self-ascribe due to an early stage of development or impairment, and can be used to describe social and emotional development as well as personality. I describe how instruments such as the Child Behavior Checklist, which relies on intersubjective expert opinion, could be modified to assess other species subjects. The measures are validated via the accuracy of the predictions that are derived, which is an example of the functionality of attribution. I respond to theoretical criticisms against use of this method, and argue that if the method counts as good science for infant cognition research, then it should count as good science for animal cognition research as well. Correspondingly, if the method doesn’t count as good science for animal cognition research, then we must be very skeptical of its use with nonverbal humans. (shrink)
Psychologists distinguish between intentional systems which have beliefs and those which are also able to attribute beliefs to others. The ability to do the latter is called having a 'theory of mind', and many cognitive ethologists are hoping to find evidence for this ability in animal behaviour. I argue that Dennett's theory entails that any intentional system that interacts with another intentional system (such as vervet monkeys and chess-playing computers) has a theory of mind, which would make the distinction all (...) but meaningless. This entailment should not be accepted; instead, Dennett's position that intentional behaviour is best predictable via the intentional stance should be rejected in favour of a pluralistic view of behaviour prediction. I introduce an additional method which humans often use to predict intentional and non-intentional behaviour, which could be called the inductive stance. (shrink)
Perhaps because both explanation and prediction are key components to understanding, philosophers and psychologists often portray these two abilities as though they arise from the same competence, and sometimes they are taken to be the same competence. When explanation and prediction are associated in this way, they are taken to be two expressions of a single cognitive capacity that differ from one another only pragmatically. If the difference between prediction and explanation of human behavior is merely pragmatic, then anytime I (...) predict someone’s future behavior, I would at that moment also have an explanation of the behavior. I argue that advocates of both the theory theory and the simulation theory accept the symmetry of psychological prediction and explanation. However, there is very good reason to believe that this hypothesis is false. Just as we can predict the occurrence of some physical phenomena that we have no explanation for, we are also able to make accurate predictions of intentional behavior without having an explanation. Rather than requiring mental state attribution, I argue that the prediction of human behavior is most often accomplished by statistical induction rather than through an appeal to mental states. However, explanations are not given in these terms. (shrink)
Once upon a time, not too long ago, the question about apes and ethics had to do with moral standing—do apes have interests or rights that humans ought to respect? Given the fifty years of research on great ape cognition, life history, social organization, and behavior, the answer to that question seems obvious. Apes have emotions and projects, they can be harmed, and they have important social relationships.
In this review article of Dan Hutto's bok Folk Psychological Narratives: The Sociocultural Basis of Understanding Reasons, I argue that we can take a functional approach to FP that identifies it with the practice of explaining behaviour -- that is, we can understand folk psychology as having the purpose of explaining behaviour and promoting social cohesion by making others’ behaviour comprehensible, without thinking that this ability must be limited to those with linguistic abilities. One reason for thinking that language must (...) be implicated in FP explanations arises from the history of theorizing about the nature of scientific explanation. I will show that there are other models of explanation that are free from the metaphysical linguistic baggage of the traditional models, and argue that such models can be profitably used to make sense of an explanation-centred FP that need not involve the attribution of propositional attitudes or a functioning linguistic competence. Further, I will argue that there is evidence that pre-linguistic human children engage in explanatory practices, and that some of these explanations may be seen as narrative explanations in an important sense. (shrink)
Turning the techniques we use to understand other people onto ourselves can provide an insight into the types of self-knowledge that may be possible for us. Adopting Pluralistic Folk Psychology, according to which we understand others not primarily by thinking about invisible beliefs and desires that cause behavior, but instead by modeling others as people - with rich characters, relationships, past histories, cultural embeddedness, personality traits, and so forth. A preliminary investigation shows that we understand ourselves at least in terms (...) of our phenomenal states, informational states, perceptual states, traits, desires, and beliefs. I then appeal to empirical research to examine the accuracy of our sense of self-understanding in these ways, and argue that these are often non-veridical. Moreover, in our folk practices, we do not take our statements of self-understanding as infallible, but we allow others to help us see ourselves. While there is room for some improvement in our acurarcy, I conclude.. (shrink)
I defend a Mengzian version of the Social Intelligence Hypothesis, according to which humans think about one another’s beliefs and desires—and reasons for action—in order to solve our social living problems through cooperation, rather than through competition and deception, as the more familiar Machiavellian version has it. Given this framework, and a corresponding view about the function of belief attribution, I argue that while apes need not attribute propositional attitudes to pass the “false belief task,” we should not conclude that (...) apes may be behaviorists. Rather, the Mengzian Social Intelligence Hypothesis perspective offers another interpretation of ape behavior, intermediate between behaviorist and propositional attitude schemas. I argue that the false belief task can be solved by individuals who have an agency schema which takes others to be minded beings who have goals, emotions, and perceptions, but who fail to consider propositional attitudes or reasons for behavior. I then argue that a true test of belief attribution in great apes would be one that shows they seek explanations in terms of reasons for behavior. However, no such test yet exists. (shrink)
When we ask the question whether animals have their own folk psychology, we’re asking whether any other species has a commonsense conception of psychological phenomenon. Different versions of this question have been discussed over the past 25 years, but no clear answer has emerged. Perhaps one reason for this lack of progress is that we don’t clearly understand the question. I defend a two-fold view of folk psychology that takes as central the capacity to engage in some folk psychological practices (...) (e.g. predicting, explaining, coordinating, justifying, etc.) and the capacity to see another as minded. Given this account, I argue that chimpanzees, as intentional agents who engage in folk psychological practices and have some understanding of others as minded agents, are folk psychologists. -/- . (shrink)
on ). -/- Advice about how to move forward on the mindreading debate, particularly when it comes to overcoming the logical problem, is much needed in comparative psychology. In chapter 4 of his book Ockham’s Razors, Elliott Sober takes on the task by suggesting how we might uncover the mechanism that mediates between the environmental stimuli that is visible to all, and chimpanzee social behavior. I argue that Sober's proposed method for deciding between the behaivor-reading and mindreading hypotheses fails given (...) the nature of each of those hypotheses. I argue that the behavior-reading hypothesis that Povinelli and colleagues propose is so rich and robust that it is going to make predictions that are behaviorally indiscernible from the mindreading hypothesis. Further, I argue that the logical problem artificially separates one’s knowledge of behavior and one’s knowledge of mind. If we reject this form of dualism, the logical problem doesn’t arise. (shrink)
The debates about the form of folk psychology and the potential eliminability of folk psychology rest on a particular view about how humans understand other minds. That is, though folk psychology is described as --œour commonsense conception of psychological phenomena--� (Churchland 1981, p. 67), there have been implicit assumptions regarding the nature of that commonsense conception. It has been assumed that folk psychology involves two practices, the prediction and explanation of behavior. And it has been assumed that one cognitive mechanism (...) subsumes both these practices. (shrink)
According to the mental continuity claim (MCC), human mental faculties are physical and beneficial to human survival, so they must have evolved gradually from ancestral forms and we should expect to see their precursors across species. Materialism of mind coupled with Darwin’s evolutionary theory leads directly to such claims and even today arguments for animal mental properties are often presented with the MCC as a premise. However, the MCC has been often challenged among contemporary scholars. It is usually argued that (...) only humans use language and that language as such has no precursors in the animal kingdom. Moreover, language is quite often understood as a necessary tool for having representations and forming beliefs. As a consequence, by lacking language animals could not have developed representational systems or beliefs. In response to these worries, we aim to mount a limited defense of the MCC as an empirical hypothesis. First, we will provide a short historical overview of the origins of the MCC and examine some of the motives behind traditional arguments for and against it. Second, we will focus on one particular question, namely whether language as such is necessary for having beliefs. Our goal is to show that there is little reason to think language is necessary for belief. In doing so, we will challenge a view of belief that is widely accepted by those working in animal cognition, namely representational belief, and we will argue that if belief is non-representational, then different research questions and methods are required. We will conclude with an argument that to study the evolution of belief across species, it is essential to begin the study of subjects in their social and ecological environment rather than in contexts that are not ecologically valid along the social and ecological dimensions. Thus, rather than serving as a premise in an argument 3 in favor of animal minds, the MCC can only be defended by empirical investigation, but importantly, empirical investigation of the right sort.. (shrink)
We clarify some points previously made by Andrews, and defend the claim that Davidson's account of belief can be and is challenged by the existence of some people with autism. We argue that both Bouma and Andrews (Philosophical Psychology, 15) blurred the subtle distinctions between the psychological concepts of theory of mind and joint attention and the Davidsonian concepts of interpretation and triangulation. And we accept that appeal to control group studies is not the appropriate place to look for an (...) individual who can speak but who has significant problems with interpretation. In this paper we argue that by turning to the clinical literature we can more readily find such a challenge to Davidson's account. (shrink)
In the twenty-five or so years since Paul Churchland proposed its elimination, defenders of folk psychology have argued for the ubiquity of propositional attitude attribution in human social cognition. If we didn’t understand others in terms of their beliefs and desires, we would see others as ‘‘baffling ciphers’’ and it would be ‘‘the end of the world’’. Because the world continues, and we seem to predict and explain what others do with a remarkable degree of accuracy, the advocates of folk (...) psychology tend to accept that we do rely on a third-person attribution of propositional attitudes as the central means for understanding other people. Based on this shared assumption, a central project in folk psychology since Churchland ’s paper has been focused on the cognitive architecture that subsumes this understanding. Humans attribute propositional attitudes to predict and explain, but how do they do it? Is our understanding of others’ behavior theoretical, as Churchland originally argued? Is. (shrink)
It’s common to think that animals think. The cat thinks it is time to be fed, the monkey thinks the dominant is a threat. In order to make sense of what the other animals around us do, we ascribe mental states to them. The cat meows at the door because she wants to be let in. The monkey the monkey fails the test because he doesn’t remember the answer. -/- We explain animal actions in terms of their mental states, just (...) as we do with humans. One of us has argued that our science of animal minds requires that animal behavior be explained in such terms, and this doesn’t lead to a problematic use of folk psychology or anthropomorphism (Andrews 2016, 2020). By “anthropomorphism” we mean the attribution of human psychological, social, or normative properties to non-human animals “usually with the implication it is done without sound justification” (Shettleworth 2010, 477). And by “folk psychology” we mean the commonsense practice of seeing action as caused or accompanied by mental states like belief and desire, emotions, and seeing people in terms of their moods or personality traits, as well as categorizing complex behaviors as examples of grieving, communicating, or teaching (Andrews 2012). Psychologists routinely describe human behaviors in folk psychological terms, so it’s not that the categories are unscientific. The issue with using folk psychology to describe animal behavior is whether observable similarities between human and nonhuman behavior warrants thinking they involve the same psychological kind. The use of folk psychology when talking about animals need not be problematically anthropomorphic, though we need some evidentiary basis for filing animal behavior under some folk psychological category. -/- Despite it being commonplace for humans to attribute thoughts to animals, and there being arguments in favor of doing so in science, the nature of these mental states so many are happy to see in other animals remains unclear. To help bring some focus into the discussion, we will examine the attitude of belief. In this chapter we will examine the various possible statuses of animal beliefs, and the implications of those various views for our folk practice as well as our scientific investigations. (shrink)
A defense of equality for great apes must begin with an understanding of the opposition and an acknowledgement of the most basic point of disagreement. For great apes to gain status as persons in our community, we must begin by determining what the multitude of different definitions of "person" have in common. Finding that great apes fulfill the requirements of any one specific theory of personhood is insufficient, for these theories are highly controversial, and a critique of the theory will (...) undermine the status of great apes as persons. Instead, the first step in the argument for ape equality must be a defense of their self-consciousness. This notion is one thing all plausible theories of personhood have in common. (shrink)
The question of whether humans have free will, like the question of the meaning of life, is one whose answer depends on how the question itself is interpreted. In his recent book Neurophilosophy of Free Will: From Libertarian Illusions to a Concept of Natural Autonomy, Henrik Walter examines whether free will is possible in a deterministic natural world, and he concludes that the answer is "It depends" (xi). He rejects a libertarian account of free will as internally inconsistent, but argues (...) for a version of compatibilism that he calls "natural autonomy." Natural autonomy, or "giving oneself laws" (8), is a successor concept to libertarian free will, and it provides for a self-determination that is consistent with a deterministic and fully physical world. Walter covers a lot of ground in this book. He debunks dualism, examines classical and modern physics, critiques radical constructivism, and utilizes chaos theory, and he refers to figures from St. Augustine to Humberto Maturana, Dennett, Einstein, Hegel and Nozick. This book could be seen as encompassing two distinct projects. The first project is a defense of what Walter calls "neurophilosophy" as a methodology for answering traditional philosophical questions. This methodology is more commonly known as "cognitive science," and Walter accepts the naturalistic premises that underlie most of the work being done by cognitive scientists today. The second project is an application of the neurophilosophical methodology to the traditional question of whether free will is compatible with determinism. The defense of a neurophilosophical methodology is concentrated in the second section of the book, whereas the first and third sections focus on the issue of free will. In the first section Walter presents a thorough overview of the free will debate. It is the final third of the book that warrants the most attention, for this is where the original work is concentrated. Before we examine Walter's contribution to the free will debate, let us briefly look at his historical analysis and the neurophilosophical method that he advocates.. (shrink)
A new approach to developing models of folk psychology is suggested, namely that different models exist for different folk psychological practices. This point is made through an example: the explanation and justification of morally heinous actions. Human folk psychology in this area is prone to a specific error of conflating an explanation for behaviour with a justification of it. An analysis of the error leads me to conclude that simulation is used to generate both explanations and justifications of heinous acts. (...) It is needed in both these cases because most of us lack theoretical information about evil actors. I will argue that it is difficult to simulate such acts, and hence difficult to develop explanations for behaviour widely accepted as evil. This difficulty explains the judgements made against successful simulators by those who don't succeed, and so explains the common problem of conflating an explanation with a justification. (shrink)
I argue that the behavior of other agents is insufficiently described in current debates as a dichotomy between tacit theory (attributing beliefs and desires to predict behavior) and simulation theory (imagining what one would do in similar circumstances in order to predict behavior). I introduce two questions about the foundation and development of our ability both to attribute belief and to simulate it. I then propose that there is one additional method used to predict behavior, namely, an inductive strategy.
According to both the traditional model of folk psychology and the social intelligence hypothesis, our folk psychological notions of belief and desire developed in order to make better predictions of behavior, and the fundamental role for our folk psychological notions of belief and desire are for making more accurate predictions of behavior (than predictions made without appeal to folk psychological notions). My strategy in this paper is to show that these claims are false. I argue that we need not appeal (...) to mental states to make predictions of many behaviors, and I will offer a positive account of how we might go about predicting intentional behavior. Finally, I suggest that taken together, the critique of traditional folk psychology along with the alternative account of our predictive practices leads to a new hypothesis. While it may be true that mental state concepts developed in response to social-environmental pressures, I suggest that this pressure was more likely the need to explain behavior, rather than the need to predict it. (shrink)
The official explanations the US gave for the September 11th terrorist attacks are not in fact explanatory, and there has been popular condemnation of those who attempt to offer causal explanations for the attacks. This paper is an investigation of the difficulty people have with finding and accepting explanations for acts they strongly condemn. Using research in the philosophy of mind and moral psychology, I distinguish between explanations for actual immoral behavior and explanations for fictional immoral behavior. The difficulty with (...) accepting the existence of an explanation for an immoral action is based on the difficulty we have identifying with the immoral person. Fiction gives us the narrative required to engage in this imagination, and thus facilitates the construction of explanations. I conclude that rather than being immoral to construct an explanation for the terrorist attacks, it is the first step toward fighting terrorism. (shrink)
Our concern is with Ramsey et al.'s method for identifying innovation. We show that either it yields false positives or the authors offer insufficient guidance for its application. To avoid these results, the authors need to modify the key or offer better guidelines for delineating input. Either choice requires addressing the processes that generate a behavior.
There were various initial reactions to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, and among those reactions were some contradictions. There were those who demanded an explanation for the attacks, and others who condemned attempts to explain as immoral or unpatriotic. Though President George W. Bush did make some rhetorical remarks that, I believe, masqueraded as explanatory, it appears that he agrees with the latter set.