Advertisement

“Other minds than ours”: a controversial discussion on the limits and possibilities of comparative psychology in the light of C. Lloyd Morgan’s work

  • Martin Böhnert
  • Christopher Hilbert
Original Paper

Abstract

C. Lloyd Morgan is mostly known for Morgan’s canon (An introduction to comparative psychology, Walter Scott, Limited, London, 1894), still a popular and frequently quoted principle in comparative psychology and ethology. There has been a fair amount of debate on the canon’s interpretation, function, and value regarding the research on animal minds, usually referring to it as an isolated principle. In this paper we rather shed light on Morgan’s overall scientific program and his vision for comparative psychology. We argue that within his program Morgan identified crucial conceptual, ontological, and methodical issues, that are still fundamental to the current research on animal minds. This also highlights a new aspect of his role as one of the “founding fathers” of modern comparative psychology. In order to understand Morgan’s program, we briefly outline the historical context in which he began his work on a science of comparative psychology. We will then emphasize to what extent his taxonomy of psychological capacities, the development of his metaphysics for a comparative psychology, and his newly introduced interdisciplinary procedures justify Morgan’s distinctive approach to still rather sensitive issues. In doing so, we aim to provide a more comprehensive picture of Morgan’s methodological signature and we contend that a proper understanding of his canon can only be gained by taking it as part of this program. We finally understand his most renown considerations as part of his struggle to ascertain the limits and possibilities of the discipline he contributed to set up, and thus emphasize the need to keep the discussion going, notably on the accessibility of other minds than one’s own and on the limits of one’s research perspectives.

Keywords

Lloyd Morgan Morgan’s canon Comparative psychology Animal behavior Animal mind 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This paper was written in the context of the International Biophilosophical School (University of Padua, 27–30 April 2015) as part of the “Integrative Biophilosophy” research project located at the University of Kassel. Funding by the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) is gratefully acknowledged. We would like to thank Robert Meunier, Kristian Köchy and Francesca Michelini for their constructive criticism of the manuscript as well as to acknowledge the helpful comments of the participants of the “Philosophie der Tierforschung” colloquium (University of Kassel). Also, a sincere thank you to Tessa Marzotto for her diligent proofreading of this paper.

References

  1. Barrows, E. M. (1995). Animal behavior desk reference. Boca Raton: CRC Press.Google Scholar
  2. Beer, T., Bethe, A., & von Uexküll, J. (1899). Vorschläge zu einer objektivierenden Nomenklatur in der Physiologie des Nervensystems. Centralblatt für Physiologie, 13(6), 517–521.Google Scholar
  3. Bekoff, M., & Allen, C. (1997). Cognitive ethology: Slayers, skeptics, and proponents. In R. W. Mitchell, N. S. Thompson, & H. L. Miles (Eds.), Anthropomorphism, anecdotes and animals (pp. 313–334). New York: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  4. Boakes, R. (1984). From Dawinism to Behaviourism. Psychology and the minds of animals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Böhnert, M., & Hilbert, C. (2016). C. Llyod Morgan’s canon—Über den Gründervater der komparativen Psychologie und den Stellenwert epistemischer Bedenken. In M. Böhnert, K. Köchy, & M. Wunsch (Eds.), Philosophie der Tierforschung. Vol 1. Methoden und Modelle (pp. 149–182). Freiburg, Munich: Karl Alber.Google Scholar
  6. Boring, E. G. (1957). A history of experimental psychology (2nd ed.). New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts Inc.Google Scholar
  7. Bruder, K.-J. (1997). Psychologie ohne Bewußtsein. Die Geburt der behavioristischen Sozialtechnologie. Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp Verlag.Google Scholar
  8. Burghardt, G. M. (1997). Amending Tinbergen: A fifth aim of ethology. In R. W. Mitchell, N. S. Thompson, & H. L. Miles (Eds.), Anthropomorphism, anecdotes and animals (pp. 254–276). New York: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  9. Burkhardt, R. W. (1997). The founders of ethology and the problem of animals subjective experience. In M. Dol, S. Kasanmoentalib, S. Lijmbach, et al. (Eds.), Animal consciousness and animal ethics. Perspectives from the Netherlands (pp. 1–13). Assen: Van Gorcum & Comp. B.V.Google Scholar
  10. Butler, A. B., & Hodos, W. (2005). Evolution and adaption of the brain, behavior, and intelligence. In A. B. Butler & W. Hodos (Eds.), Comparative vertebrate neuroanatomy—Evolution and adaption. New Jersey: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Byrne, R. W. (1997). What’s the use of anecdotes? Distinguishing psychological mechanisms in primate tactical deception. In R. W. Mitchell, N. S. Thompson, & H. L. Miles (Eds.), Anthropomorphism, anecdotes and animals (pp. 134–150). New York: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  12. Cassirer, E. (1944/1992). An essay on man. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Clatterbuck, H. (2016). Darwin, Hume, Morgan, and the verae causae of psychology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 60, 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clifford, W. K. (1879). On the nature of things in themselves. In W. K. Clifford (Ed.), Lectures and essays (pp. 71–89). London: McMillan.Google Scholar
  15. Costall, A. (1993). How Lloyd Morgan’s canon backfired. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 29(2), 113–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Costall, A. (1998). Lloyd Morgan, and the rise and fall of ‘animal psychology’. Society and Animals, 6(1), 13–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Currie, G. (2006). Rationality, decentring, and the evidence for pretence in non-human animals. In S. Hurley & M. Nudds (Eds.), Rational animals? (pp. 275–290). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Daston, L., & Galison, P. (1992). The image of objectivity. Representations, 40(4), 81–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dewsbury, D. A. (1984). Comparative psychology in the twentieth century. Stroudsburg: Hutchinson Ross Publishing Co.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fischer, J. (2012). Metakognition bei Tieren. In J.-C. Heilinger (Ed.), Naturgeschichte der Freiheit (pp. 95–116). Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  21. Fitzpatrick, S. (2008). Doing away with Morgan’s canon. Mind and Language, 23(2), 224–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fitzpatrick, S., & Goodrich, G. (2017). Building a science of animal minds: Lloyd Morgan, experimentation, and Morgan’s canon. Journal of the History of Biology, 50(3), 525–569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Flugel, J. C. (1933). A hundred years on psychology. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co.Google Scholar
  24. Galef, B. G., Jr. (1996). Historical orgins: The making of a science. In L. D. Houck & L. C. Drickamer (Eds.), Foundations of animal behavior. Classic papers with commentaries (pp. 5–12). Chicago: University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Goodwin, C. J. (1999). A history of modern psychology. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  26. Heidelberger, M. (2000). Der psychophysische Parallelismus—Von Fechner und Mach zu Davidson und zurück. In F. Stadler (Ed.), Elemente moderner Wissenschaftstheorie—Zur Interaktion von Philosophie, Geschichte und Theorie der Wissenschaften (Vol. 8, pp. 91–104). Wien: Springer.Google Scholar
  27. Heidelberger, M. (2004). Nature from within: Gustav Theodor Fechner and his psychophysical world view. Pittsburg, PA: University of Pittsburg Press.Google Scholar
  28. Hilbert, C. (2017). Gewöhnliche Erfahrung in der Wissenschaft vom Tier. In Forschungsschwerpunkt Tier-Mensch-Gesellschaft (Ed.), Vielfältig verflochten. Interdisziplinäre Beiträge zur Tier-Mensch-Relationalität (pp. 157–172). Bielefeld: transcript Verlag.Google Scholar
  29. Hilbert, C. (2018). Das Problem des Anthropomorphismus in der Tierforschung. Eckpunkte der methodologischen Entwicklung. In M. Wunsch, M. Böhnert, & K. Köchy (Eds.), Philosophie der Tierforschung. Vol 3. Milieus und Akteure (pp. 139–186). Freiburg, Munich: Karl Alber.Google Scholar
  30. Kaminski, J., Call, J., & Tomasello, M. (2008). Chimpanzees know what others know, but not what they believe. Cognition, 109(2), 224–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Karin-D’Arcy, M. R. (2005). The modern role of Morgan’s canon in comparative psychology. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 18(3), 179–201.Google Scholar
  32. Knoll, E. (1997). Dogs, Darwinism, and English sensibilities. In R. W. Mitchell, N. S. Thompson, & H. L. Miles (Eds.), Anthropomorphism, anecdotes and animals (pp. 12–21). New York: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  33. Köchy, K. (2006). Einleitung: Umwelt-Handeln—Zum Zusammenhang von Naturphilosophie und Umweltethik. In K. Köchy & M. Norwig (Eds.), Umwelt-Handeln—Zum Zusammenhang von Naturphilosophie und Umweltethik (pp. 11–29). Freiburg, Munich: Karl Alber.Google Scholar
  34. Köchy, K., Wunsch, M., & Böhnert, M. (2016). Einleitung: Philosophie der Tierforschung. Die methodische Signatur von Forschungsprogrammen. In M. Böhnert, K. Köchy, & M. Wunsch (Eds.), Philosophie der Tierforschung. Vol 1. Methoden und Modelle (pp. 9–19). Freiburg, Munich: Karl Alber.Google Scholar
  35. Manning, A., & Dawkins, M. S. (2012). An introduction to animal behaviour. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Marx, M., & Hillix, W. (1967). Systems and theories in psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  37. McFarland, D. (1985). Animal behavior: Psychobiology, ethology, and evolution. Menlo Park: Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company Inc.Google Scholar
  38. Morgan, C. L. (1884a). Instinct. Nature, 29(746), 370–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Morgan, C. L. (1884b). Instinct. Nature, 29(750), 451–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Morgan, C. L. (1885). The springs of conduct: An essay on evolution. London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co.Google Scholar
  41. Morgan, C. L. (1886). On the study of animal intelligence. Mind, 11(42), 174–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Morgan, C. L. (1890). Animal life and intelligence. London: E. Arnold.Google Scholar
  43. Morgan, C. L. (1892a). The limits of animal intelligence. In International congress of experimental psychology, second session (pp. 44–48). London: Williams & Norgate.Google Scholar
  44. Morgan, C. L. (1892b). Experimental biology. Nature, 47(1202), 25–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Morgan, C. L. (1894). An introduction to comparative psychology. London: Walter Scott, Limited.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Morgan, C. L. (1898). Animal intelligence: An experimental study. Nature, 58(1498), 249–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Morgan, C. L. (1903). An introduction to comparative psychology. Revised edition. London: Walter Scott, Limited.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Morgan, C. L. (1925). Life, mind, and spirit. New York: Holt.Google Scholar
  49. Newbury, E. (1954). Current interpretation and significance of Lloyd Morgan’s canon. The Psychological Bulletin, 51(1), 70–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Radick, G. (2000). Morgan’s canon, Garner’s phonograph, and the evolutionary origins of language and reason. The British Journal for the History of Science, 33(1), 3–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Richards, R. J. (1987). Darwin and the emergence of evolutionary theories of mind and behaviour. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Romanes, G. J. (1882). Animal intelligence. London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co.Google Scholar
  53. Romanes, G. J. (1884a). Letter: Mr. Lloyd Morgan on Instinct. Nature, 29(747), 379–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Romanes, G. J. (1884b). Instinct. Nature, 29(747), 428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Romanes, G. J. (1884c). Mental evolution in animals. New York: D. Appleton and Company.Google Scholar
  56. Romanes, G. J. (1885). Jelly-fish, star-fish and sea-urchins. A research on primitive nervous systems. New York: D. Appleton and Company.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Romanes, G. J. (1891). Animal life and intelligence by C. Lloyd Morgan. Mind, 16(61), 262–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Schel, A. M., Townsend, S. W., Machanda, Z., Zuberbühler, K., & Slocombe, K. E. (2013). Chimpanzee alarm call production meets key criteria for intentionality. PLoS ONE, 8(10), e76674.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0076674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Schurig, V. (2014). Problemgeschichte des Wissenschaftsbegriffs Ethologie. Rangsdorf: Basilisken-Presse.Google Scholar
  60. Silverman, P. S. (1997). A pragmatic approach to the inference of animal mind. In R. W. Mitchell, N. S. Thompson, & H. L. Miles (Eds.), Anthropomorphism, anecdotes and animals (pp. 170–185). New York: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  61. Sober, E. (1998). Morgan’s canon. In C. Allen & D. Cummins (Eds.), The evolution of mind (pp. 224–242). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  62. Sober, E. (2005). Comparative psychology meets evolutionary biology. Morgan’s canon and cladistic parsimony. In L. Daston & G. Mitman (Eds.), Thinking with animals. New perspectives on anthropomorphism (pp. 85–99). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Stanley, H. M. (1896). Remarks on Professor Lloyd Morgan’s method in animal psychology. Psychological Review, 3(5), 536–541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Starzak, T. (2015). Kognition bei Menschen und Tieren. Eine vergleichende philosophische Perspektive. Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  65. Starzak, T. (2016). Interpretations without justification: A general argument against Morgan’s canon. Synthese.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-016-1013-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Thomas, R. K. (1998). Lloyd Morgan’s canon. In G. Greenberg & M. M. Haraway (Eds.), Comparative psychology: A handbook (pp. 156–163). New York: Garland Press.Google Scholar
  67. Thomas, R. K. (2001). Lloyd Morgan’s canon: A history of its misrepresentation. In History and Theory in Psychology Eprint Archive. https://faculty.franklin.uga.edu/rkthomas/sites/faculty.franklin.uga.edu.rkthomas/files/MCPrintOptimal.pdf. Accessed 31 May 2016.
  68. Thorpe, W. H. (1979). The origins and rise of ethology. The science of the natural behaviour of animals. London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  69. Tinbergen, N. (1951). The study of instinct. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  70. Washburn, M. F. (1917). The animal mind. A text-book of comparative psychology. New York: Macmillan Company.Google Scholar
  71. Waters, R. H. (1939). Morgan’s canon and anthropomorphism. Psychological Review, 46(6), 534–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Watson, J. B. (1913). Psychology as the behaviorist views it. Psychological Review, 20(2), 158–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Weber, M. (2004). Science as a vocation. In D. Owen & T. B. Strong (Eds.), Max Weber—The vocation lectures (pp. 1–32). Cambridge: Hackett.Google Scholar
  74. Wegener, M. (2009). Der psychophysische Parallelismus. Zu einer Denkfigur im Feld der wissenschaftlichen Umbrüche des ausgehenden 19. Jahrhunderts. NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin, 17(3), 277–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wemelsfelder, F. (2007). How animals communicate quality of life: the qualitative assessment of behavior. Animal Welfare, 16(S), 25–31.Google Scholar
  76. Wieder, D. L. (1980). Behavioristic operationalism and the life-world: Chimpanzees and chimpanzee researchers in face-to-face interaction. Sociological Inquiry, 50(3–4), 75–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Wild, M. (2006). Die anthropologische Differenz: Der Geist der Tiere in der Frühen Neuzeit bei Montaigne, Descartes und Hume. Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  78. Wozniak, R. H. (1993). Conwy Lloyd Morgan, mental evolution, and the introduction to comparative psychology. In C. L. Morgan (Ed.), Introduction to comparative psychology (pp. vii–xix). London: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversität KasselKasselGermany
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversität KasselKasselGermany

Personalised recommendations