, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 597–615

Animal Beliefs and Their Contents

  • Frank Dreckmann

DOI: 10.1023/A:1005593324763

Cite this article as:
Dreckmann, F. Erkenntnis (1999) 51: 597. doi:10.1023/A:1005593324763


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.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank Dreckmann
    • 1
  1. 1.KönigswinterGermany