, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 377–386 | Cite as

Snipping or editing? Parsimony in the chimpanzee mind-reading debate

Elliott Sober: Ockham’s razors: A user’s manual. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 322 pp, $ 29.99 PB, $ 99.99 HB
  • Kristin Andrews

Advice about how to move forward on the mind-reading debate, particularly when it comes to overcoming the logical problem, is much needed in comparative psychology. In Chapter 4, Sober takes on the task by suggesting how we might uncover the mechanism that mediates between the environmental stimuli that is visible to all, and chimpanzee social behavior.

The starting assumption in this debate is that humans reason about others’ mental states when predicting behavior, and the question is whether chimpanzees also reason about others’ mental states when successfully predicting behavior, or whether they reason about others’ behavioral tendencies given the stimuli. In other words, the question is whether chimpanzees are mind-readers or behavior-readers.

Sober presents this puzzle as a case of black box inference, according to which the competing hypotheses are represented as flowcharts that connect the stimuli to the behavior via different intervening variables. The problem is set up in the...


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy/Cognitive ScienceYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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