Concept Attribution in Nonhuman Animals: Theoretical and Methodological Problems in Ascribing Complex Mental Processes
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CitationAllen, Colin, and Marc David Hauser. 1991. Concept attribution in nonhuman animals: Theoretical and methodological problems in ascribing complex mental processes. Philosophy of Science 58(2): 221-240.
AbstractThe 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.
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