Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 30, Issue 6, pp 811–829 | Cite as

Dismantling standard cognitive science: it’s time the dog has its day

  • Michele Merritt


I argue that the standard paradigm for understanding cognition—namely, that thoughts are representational, internal, and propositional—does not account for a large number of genuinely cognitive processes. Instead, if we adopt a more radical approach, one that treats cognition as a cooperative, dynamic, and interactive process, accounting for shared meaning making and embodied thought becomes much more plausible. To support this thesis, rather than turn to the debate as it has been ongoing among philosophers of mind pertaining solely to human thought, I examine our interactions with other animals, and thus, I take a more biological approach to how thought evolves and emerges. Chiefly, I look at the ways in which human-canine interaction (1) ought to count as producing genuinely cognitive phenomena that (2) cannot be properly explicated under a standard model of cognition, and (3) that these sorts of interactive and dynamic pairings between us and our dogs can serve as models for human minds, which I argue are much more shared and cooperative than competing accounts of cognition would have us believe.


Canine cognition Cognitive science, embodied cognition Evolution of thought Enactivism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arkansas State UniversityJonesboroUSA

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