Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-59b7f5684b-569ts Total loading time: 0.237 Render date: 2022-09-25T16:05:27.936Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "displayNetworkTab": true, "displayNetworkMapGraph": false, "useSa": true } hasContentIssue true

Concept Attribution in Nonhuman Animals: Theoretical and Methodological Problems in Ascribing Complex Mental Processes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2022

Colin Allen
Affiliation:
Department of Philosophy, Texas A&M University
Marc D. Hauser
Affiliation:
Department of Zoology, University of California, Davis

Abstract

The demise of behaviorism has made ethologists more willing to ascribe mental states to animals. However, a methodology that can avoid the charge of excessive anthropomorphism is needed. We describe a series of experiments that could help determine whether the behavior of nonhuman animals towards dead conspecifics is concept mediated. These experiments form the basis of a general point. The behavior of some animals is clearly guided by complex mental processes. The techniques developed by comparative psychologists and behavioral ecologists are able to provide us with the tools to critically evaluate hypotheses concerning the continuity between human minds and animal minds.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © 1991 The Philosophy of Science Association

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Footnotes

We wish to thank Tyler Burge, Philip Clark, Lisa Hauser, Alan Nelson, anonymous reviewers for this journal, and, especially, Georges Rey and Keith Donnellan for criticism of earlier drafts of this paper.

References

Allen, C. (1989), “Attributing Intentional States to Animals: Philosophical Issues Arising in Cognitive Ethology”. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles.Google Scholar
Altmann, J. (1980), Baboon Mothers and Infants. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Asquith, P. J. (1984), “The Inevitability and Utility of Anthropomorphism in Description of Primate Behaviour”, in R. Harré and V. Reynolds (eds.), The Meaning of Primate Signals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Paris: Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, pp. 138174.Google Scholar
Bachmann, C. and Kummer, H. (1980), “Male Assessment of Female Choice in Hamadry- as Baboons”, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 6: 315321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Burge, T. (1979), “Individualism and the Mental”, in P. French, T. Uehling and H. Wettstein (eds.), Midwest Studies in Philosophy. Vol. 4, Studies in Metaphysics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 73121.Google Scholar
Burghardt, G. (1985), “Animal Awareness: Current Perceptions and Historical Perspective”, American Psychologist 40: 905919.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cheney, D. L. and Seyfarth, R. M. (1980), “Vocal Recognition in Free-ranging Vervet Monkeys”, Animal Behaviour 28: 362367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cheney, D. L. and Seyfarth, R. M. (1983), “Nonrandom Dispersal in Free-ranging Vervet Monkeys: Social and Genetic Consequences”, American Naturalist 122: 392412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cheney, D. L. and Seyfarth, R. M. (1985), “Social and Non-social Knowledge in Vervet Monkeys”, Philosophical Transactions Royal Society London B 308: 187201.Google Scholar
Cooper, L. A. (1982), “Internal Representation”, in D. R. Griffin (ed.), Animal Mind, Human Mind: Report of the Dahlem Workshop on Animal Mind-Human Mind. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, pp. 145158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cowgill, U. M. (1972), “Death in Perodicticus”, Primates 13: 251256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
D'Amato, M. R. and van Sant, P. (1988), “The Person Concept in Monkeys (Cebus apella)”, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes 14: 4355.Google Scholar
Dasser, V. (1985), “Cognitive Complexity in Primate Social Relationships”, in R. A. Hinde, A. Perret-Clermont and J. Stevenson-Hinde (eds.), Social Relationships and Cognitive Development. Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 922.Google Scholar
Dennett, D. C. (1969), Content and Consciousness. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
Dennett, D. C. (1983), “Intentional Systems in Cognitive Ethology: The ‘Panglossian Paradigm’ Defended”, The Behavioral and Brain Sciences 6: 343390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fodor, J. A. (1975), The Language of Thought. New York: Crowell.Google Scholar
Fodor, J. A. (1981), Representations: Philosophical Essays on the Foundations of Cognitive Science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Gould, J. L. and Gould, C. G. (1982), “The Insect Mind: Physics or Metaphysics?”, in D. R. Griffin (ed.), Animal Mind, Human Mind: Report of the Dahlem Workshop on Animal Mind-Human Mind. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, pp. 269298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grice, H. P. (1957), “Meaning”, Philosophical Review 66: 377388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Griffin, D. R. (1981), The Question of Animal Awareness: Evolutionary Continuity of Mental Experience. Revised and Enlarged Edition. New York: Rockefeller University Press.Google Scholar
Griffin, D. R. (ed.) (1982), Animal Mind, Human Mind: Report of the Dahlem Workshop on Animal Mind-Human Mind. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Harnad, S. (ed.) (1987), Categorical Perception: The Groundwork of Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Harré, R. and Reynolds, V. (eds.) (1984), The Meaning of Primate Signals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Paris: Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme.Google Scholar
Hauser, M. D. (1986), “Male Responsiveness to Infant Distress Calls in Free-ranging Vervet Monkeys”, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 19: 6571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hauser, M. D. (1988), “Invention and Social Transmission: New Data From Wild Vervet Monkeys”, in R. Byrne and A. Whiten (eds.), Machiavellian Intelligence: Social Expertise and the Evolution of Intellect in Monkeys, Apes, and Humans. Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 327343.Google Scholar
Herrnstein, R. J. (1984), “Objects, Categories, and Discriminative Stimuli”, in H. L. Roitblat, T. G. Bever and H. S. Terrace (eds.), Animal Cognition: Proceedings of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Conference, June 2–4, 1982. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp. 233261.Google Scholar
Herrnstein, R. J.; Loveland, D. H.; and Cable, C. (1976), “Natural Concepts in Pigeons”, Journal of Experimental Psychology, Animal Behavior Processes 2: 285302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hinde, R. A. (1982), Ethology: Its Nature and Relations with Other Sciences. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Krebs, J. R. and Davies, N. B. (1984), Behavioral Ecology: An Evolutionary Approach. 2d ed. Sunderland: Sinauer Press.Google Scholar
Kummer, H. (1982), “Social Knowledge in Free-ranging Primates”, in D. R. Griffin (ed.), Animal Mind, Human Mind: Report of the Dahlem Workshop on Animal Mind-Human Mind. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, pp. 113130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lea, S. E. G. (1984), “In What Sense Do Pigeons Learn Concepts?”, in H. L. Roitblat, T. G. Bever and H. S. Terrace (eds.), Animal Cognition: Proceedings of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Conference, June 2–4, 1982. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp. 263276.Google Scholar
Munn, C. A. (1986), “The Deceptive Use of Alarm Calls by Sentinel Species in Mixed-Species Flocks of Neotropical Birds”, in R. W. Mitchell and N. S. Thompson (eds.), Deception: Perspectives on Human and Nonhuman Deceit. Albany: State University of New York Press, pp. 169175.Google Scholar
Premack, D. (1986), Gavagai! or The Future History of the Animal Language Controversy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Putnam, H. (1975), “The Meaning of ‘Meaning‘”, in K. Gunderson (ed.), Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science. Vol. 7, Language, Mind, and Knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 131193.Google Scholar
Quillian, M. R. (1968), “Semantic Memory”, in M. Minsky (ed.), Semantic Information Processing. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 227270.Google Scholar
Quine, W. V. (1960), Word and Object. Cambridge: Technology Press of MIT.Google Scholar
Rey, G. (1983), “Concepts and Stereotypes”, Cognition 15: 237262.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Schank, R. C.; Collins, G. C.; and Hunter, L. E. (1986), “Transcending Inductive Category Formation in Learning”, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 9: 639686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Seyfarth, R. M.; Cheney, D. L.; and Marler, P. (1980), “Monkey Responses to Three Different Alarm Calls: Evidence of Predator Classification and Semantic Communication”, Science 210: 801803.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Struhsaker, T. T. (1967), “Auditory Communication Among Vervet Monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops)”, in S. A. Altmann (ed.), Social Communication Among Primates. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 281324.Google Scholar
Wilson, E. O. (1971), The Insect Societies. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Concept Attribution in Nonhuman Animals: Theoretical and Methodological Problems in Ascribing Complex Mental Processes
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Concept Attribution in Nonhuman Animals: Theoretical and Methodological Problems in Ascribing Complex Mental Processes
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Concept Attribution in Nonhuman Animals: Theoretical and Methodological Problems in Ascribing Complex Mental Processes
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *