, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 537-544

Animal Concepts Revisited: the use of Self- Monitoring as an Empirical Approach

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Abstract

Many psychologists and philosophers believe that the close correlation between human language and human concepts makes the attribution of concepts to nonhuman animals highly questionable. I argue for a three-part approach to attributing concepts to animals. The approach goes beyond the usual discrimination tests by seeking evidence for self-monitoring of discrimination errors. Such evidence can be collected without relying on language and, I argue, the capacity for error-detection can only be explained by attributing a kind of internal representation that is reasonably identified as a concept. Thus I hope to have shown that worries about the empirical intractability of concepts in languageless animals are misplaced.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.