Erkenntnis

, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 537–544 | Cite as

Animal Concepts Revisited: the use of Self- Monitoring as an Empirical Approach

  • Colin Allen

Abstract

Many psychologists and philosophers believe that the close correlation between human language and human concepts makes the attribution of concepts to nonhuman animals highly questionable. I argue for a three-part approach to attributing concepts to animals. The approach goes beyond the usual discrimination tests by seeking evidence for self-monitoring of discrimination errors. Such evidence can be collected without relying on language and, I argue, the capacity for error-detection can only be explained by attributing a kind of internal representation that is reasonably identified as a concept. Thus I hope to have shown that worries about the empirical intractability of concepts in languageless animals are misplaced.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Allen, C.: 1992, ‘Mental Content’, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 43, 537-553.Google Scholar
  2. Allen, C. and Bekoff, M.: 1997, Species of Mind: The Philosophy and Biology of Cognitive Ethology. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  3. Allen, C. and Hauser, M. D.: 1991, ‘Concept Attribution in Nonhuman Animals: Theoretical and Methodological Problems in Ascribing Complex Mental Processes’, Philosophy of Science 58, 221-240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chater, N. and Heyes, C. M.: 1994, ‘Animal Concepts: Content and Discontent’, Mind and Language 9, 209-246.Google Scholar
  5. Herrnstein, R. J., Loveland, D. H. and Cable, C.: 1976, ‘Natural Concepts in Pigeons’, Journal of Experimental Psychology, Animal Behavior Processes 2, 385-302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Keddy-Hector, A., Allen, C. and Friend, T. H.: 1999, Cognition in Domestic Pigs: Relational Concepts and Error Recognition (submitted).Google Scholar
  7. Watson, R. A.: 1995, Representational Ideas: From Plato to Patricia Churchland. Kluwer, Dordrecht, the Netherlands.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin Allen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyTexas A & M UniversityCollege StationU.S.A

Personalised recommendations