, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 597-615

Animal Beliefs and Their Contents

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Abstract

This paper investigates whether, or not, the behavior of animals without speech can manifest beliefs and desires. Criteria for the attribution of such beliefs and desires are worked out with reference to Jonathan Bennett's theory of cognitive teleology: A particular ability for learning justifies attributing such beliefs and desires. The conceptual analysis is illustrated by examinations of cognitive ethology and considers higher-order intentionality. It is argued that the behavioral evidence only supports the attribution of first order beliefs and that languageless animals therefore could not possess higher-order intentionality. They are only capable of forming simple, i.e., first-order beliefs about their environment.

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