Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 597
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Lee, Sangwon and Wohn, Kwangyun 2016. Occupants’ Perceptions of Amenity and Efficiency for Verification of Spatial Design Adequacy. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Vol. 13, Issue. 1, p. 128.

    Lian, Arild 2016. Language Evolution and Developmental Impairments.

    Lian, Arild 2016. Language Evolution and Developmental Impairments.

    Sievers, Christine and Gruber, Thibaud 2016. Reference in human and non-human primate communication: What does it take to refer?. Animal Cognition, Vol. 19, Issue. 4, p. 759.

    Starzak, Tobias 2016. Interpretations without justification: a general argument against Morgan’s Canon. Synthese,

    Sterelny, Kim 2016. Cumulative Cultural Evolution and the Origins of Language. Biological Theory,

    Townsend, Simon W. Koski, Sonja E. Byrne, Richard W. Slocombe, Katie E. Bickel, Balthasar Boeckle, Markus Braga Goncalves, Ines Burkart, Judith M. Flower, Tom Gaunet, Florence Glock, Hans Johann Gruber, Thibaud Jansen, David A. W. A. M. Liebal, Katja Linke, Angelika Miklósi, Ádám Moore, Richard van Schaik, Carel P. Stoll, Sabine Vail, Alex Waller, Bridget M. Wild, Markus Zuberbühler, Klaus and Manser, Marta B. 2016. Exorcising Grice's ghost: an empirical approach to studying intentional communication in animals. Biological Reviews,

    Boudry, Maarten Vlerick, Michael and McKay, Ryan 2015. Can evolution get us off the hook? Evaluating the ecological defence of human rationality. Consciousness and Cognition, Vol. 33, p. 524.

    Crockford, Catherine Wittig, Roman M. and Zuberbühler, Klaus 2015. An intentional vocalization draws others’ attention: A playback experiment with wild chimpanzees. Animal Cognition, Vol. 18, Issue. 3, p. 581.

    Dawkins, Marian 2015.

    Fenici, Marco 2015. Social cognitive abilities in infancy: Is mindreading the best explanation?. Philosophical Psychology, Vol. 28, Issue. 3, p. 387.

    Seyfarth, Robert M. and Cheney, Dorothy L. 2015. Social cognition. Animal Behaviour, Vol. 103, p. 191.

    STIEGLER, BARBARA 2015. L’hommage de Stephen Jay Gould à l’évolutionnisme de Nietzsche. Dialogue, Vol. 54, Issue. 03, p. 409.

    Waller, Bridget M. Caeiro, Cátia C. and Davila-Ross, Marina 2015. Orangutans modify facial displays depending on recipient attention. PeerJ, Vol. 3, p. e827.

    Allen, Colin 2014. Models, Mechanisms, and Animal Minds. The Southern Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 52, p. 75.

    Corning, Peter A. 2014. Evolution ‘on purpose’: how behaviour has shaped the evolutionary process. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, Vol. 112, Issue. 2, p. 242.

    Lahera, G. Boada, L. Pousa, E. Mirapeix, I. Morón-Nozaleda, G. Marinas, L. Gisbert, L. Pamiàs, M. and Parellada, M. 2014. Movie for the Assessment of Social Cognition (MASC): Spanish Validation. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Vol. 44, Issue. 8, p. 1886.

    Maginnity, Michelle E. and Grace, Randolph C. 2014. Visual perspective taking by dogs (Canis familiaris) in a Guesser–Knower task: evidence for a canine theory of mind?. Animal Cognition, Vol. 17, Issue. 6, p. 1375.

    Echeverri, Jonathan and Chaves, Liliana 2013. Ingeniería inversa y cognición: ¿algunas remembranzas panglossianas?. Ideas y Valores, Vol. 63, Issue. 155, p. 145.

    Ristau, Carolyn A. 2013. Cognitive ethology. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, Vol. 4, Issue. 5, p. 493.


Intentional systems in cognitive ethology: The “Panglossian paradigm” defended

  • Daniel C. Dennett (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 February 2010

Ethologists and others studying animal behavior in a “cognitive” spirit are in need of a descriptive language and method that are neither anachronistically bound by behaviorist scruples nor prematurely committed to particular “information-processing models.” Just such an interim descriptive method can be found in intentional system theory. The use of intentional system theory is illustrated with the case of the apparently communicative behavior of vervet monkeys. A way of using the theory to generate data - including usable, testable “anecdotal” data - is sketched. The underlying assumptions of this approach can be seen to ally it directly with “adaptationist” theorizing in evolutionary biology, which has recently come under attack from Stephen Gould and Richard Lewontin, who castigate it as the “Panglossian paradigm.” Their arguments, which are strongly analogous to B. F, Skinner's arguments against “mentalism,” point to certain pitfalls that attend the careless exercise of such “Panglossian” thinking (and rival varieties of thinking as well), but do not constitute a fundamental objection to either adaptationist theorizing or its cousin, intentional system theory.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

D. P. Barash (1976) Male response to apparent female adultery in the mountain bluebird: An evolutionary interpretation. American Naturalist 110:10971101. [taDCD]

J. Beatty (1980) Optimal-design models and the strategy of model building in evolutionary biology. Philosophy of Science 47:532–61. [taDCD]

J. Cargile (1970) A note on “iterated knowings.” Analysis 30:151–55. [taDCD]

P. M. Churchland (1981) Eliminative materialism and the propositional attitudes. Journal of Philosophy 78:6790. [PSC, ACD, rDCD, AR]

P. S. Churchland (1980a) Language, thought, and information processing. Nous 14:147–69. [PSC]

S. R. L. Clark (1982) The nature of the beast. Oxford University Press. [RD]

T. H. Clutton-Brock , & P. H. Harvey (1979) Comparison and adaptation. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B, 205:547–65. ‘RD]

C. R. Darwin (1872) The expression of the emotions in man and animals. John Murray. [MG]

J. D. Davis & D. Wirtshafter (1978) Set-points or settling points for body weight? A reply to Mrosovsky and Powley. Behavioural Biology 24:405–11. [DMcF]

M. Dawkins (1980) Animal suffering. Chapman & Hall. [RD]

D. Dennett (1971) Intentional systems. Journal of Philosophy 68:87106. Repr. in Dennett 1978a. ‘tarDCD, DL, RGM]

D. Dennett (1979) On the absence of phenornenology. In: Body, mind, and method, ed. D. F. Custafson & B. L. Tapscott , pp. 93113. D. Reidel Publ. [DL]

D. Dennett (1981a) Making sense of ourselves. Philosophical Topics 12:6381. [taDCD]

D. Dennett (1982) How to study consciousness empirically: Or nothing comes to mind. Synthese 53:159–80. [tarDCD]

T. Dobzhansky (1956) What is an adaptive trait? American Naturalist 90:337–47. [taDCD]

R. A. Gardner & B. T. Gardner (1978) Comparative psychology and language acquisition. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 309:3776. [MSS]

M. T. Ghiselin (1982) On the mechanisms of cnlturl evoluion, and the evolution of language and the common law. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 5:11. [MG]

S. J. Gould (1981) The mismeasure of man. Norton. [taDCD]

S. J. Gould & R. Lewontin (1979) The spandrels of San Marco and the Paisglossian paradigm: A critique of the adaptationist programme. Proceedings of the Royal Society (London) B205:581–98. [RD. taDCD, NE, RCL, AR, MSS]

H. P. Grice (1957) Meaning. Philosophical Review 66:377–88. [taDCD, GH, JH, HST]

H. P. Grice (1969) Utterer's meaning and intentions. Philosophical Review 78: 147–77. [taDCD, JH, HST]

D. R. Griffin (1978) Prospects for a cognitive ethology. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 1:527–38. [ORG. HST]

A. H. Harcourt , P. H. Harvey S. C. Larson & R. V. Short (1981) Testis weight, body weight and breeding system in primates. Nature 293:55. [RD]

G. Harman (1974) Review of Meaning, by Stephen Schiffer. Journal of Philosophy 71:224–29. [GH]

P. H. Harvey , T. H. Clutton-Brock & G. Mace (1980) Brain size and ecology in small mammals and primates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 77:4387–89. [RD]

J. Heil (1982) Speechless brutes. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 42:400406. [JH]

R. A. Hinde (1970) Animal behaviour. McGraw-Hill. [DMcF]

H. J. Jerison (1973) Evolution of the brain and intelligence. Academic Press. [RD]

R. E. Kalman (1963) Mathematical description of linear dynamical systems. Journal of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics Control Series A.1. 152–92. [DMcF]

H. Kummer (1982) Social knowledge in free-ranging primates. In: Animal mind-human mind, ed. D. R. Griffin , pp. 113–30. Dahlem Workshop. Springer-verlag. [AJ]

R. Lewin (1980) Evolutionary theory under fire. Science 210:881–87. [taDCD]

R. Lewontin (1961) Evolution and the theory of games. Journal of Theoretical Biology 1:328403. [taDCD]

R. Lewontin (1979) Sociobiology as an adaptationist paradigm. Behavioral Science 24:514. [HO, taDCD]

M. Lloyd & H. S. Dybas (1966) The Periodical cicada problem. Evolution 20: 132–49; 466505. [taDCD]

R. D. Martin (1981) Relative brain size and basal metabolic rate in terrestrial vertebrates. Nature 293:5760. [RD]

E. W. Menzel (1971) Communication about the environment in a group of young chimpanzees. Folia Primatologica 15:220–32. [EWM]

E. W. Menzel & M. K. Johnson (1976) Communication and cognitive organization in humans and other animals. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 280:131–42. [EWM]

G. Miller , E. Galanter & K. Pribram (1960) Plans and the structure of behavior. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. [EWM]

C. L. Morgan (1894) An introduction to comparative psychology. Walter Scott. [JH, DMcF]

C. L. Morgan (1900) Animal behaviour. Walter Scott. [DMcF]

N. Mrosovsky & T. L. Powley (1977) Set points for body weight and fat. Behavioural Biology 20: 205–5. [DMcF]

A. Newell (1982) The knowledge level. 1980 presidential address, American Association for Artificial Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence 18:87127. [tarDCD]

F. Patterson (1978) The gestures of a gorilla; Language acquisition in another pongid. Brain and Language 5:7297. [MSS]

W. V. O. Quine (1951) Two dogmas of empiricism. Philosophical Review 60:2043. [CH]

J. Reddinguis (1980) Control theory and the dynamics of body weight. Physiology and Behaviour 24:2732. [DMcF]

H. L. Roitblat (1982) The meaning of representation in animal memory. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 5:352406. [taDCD, HLR, HST]

H. Sarkar (1982) A theory of group rationality. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 13:5572. [JBea]

M. S. Seidenberg & L. A. Petitto (1979) Signing behavior in apes: A critical review. Cognition 7:177215. [MSS]

M. S. Seidenberg (1981) Ape signing: Problems of method and interpretations. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 364:115–29. [MSS]

R. Seyfarth , D. L. Cheney & P. Marler (1980) Monkey responses to three different alarm calls: Evidence of predator classification and semantic communication. Science 210:801–3. [tarDCD, HST]

B. F. Skinner (1931) The concept of the reflex in the description of behavior. Journal of General Psychology 5:427–58. [HST]

B. F. Skinner (1957) Verbal behavior. Appleton-Century-Crofts. [BFS]

B. F. Skinner (1981) Selection by consequences. Science 213:501–4. \BFS]

W. S. Small (1901) ExPerimental study of the mental processes of the rat. American journal of Psychology 12:218–20. [HR]

F. Süffert (1932) Phänomene visueller Anpassung. Zeitschrift für Morphologie und Ökologie der Tiere 26:147316. [MC]

H. S. Terrace (1982b) Why Koko can't talk. Sciences 22:810. [HST]

R. L. Trivers (1971) The evolution of reciprocal altruism. Quarterly Review of Biology 46:3557. [taDCD]

D. R. Williams & H. Williams (1969) Auto-maintenance in the pigeon: Sustained pecking despite contingent nonreinforcement. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior 12:511-20. [HST]

E. O. Wilson , N. I. Durlach & L. M. Roth (1958) Chemical releasers of necrophoric behavior in ants. Psyche 65:108–14. [taDCD]

D. Wirtshafter & J. D. Davis (1977) Set points, settling points, and the control of body weight. Physiology and Behaviour 19:7578. [DMcF]

G. Woodruff & D. Premack (1979) Intentional communication in the chimpanzee: The development of deception. Cognition 7:333–62. [taDCD]

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *