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Mindreading AnimalsThe Debate over What Animals Know about Other Minds$
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Robert W. Lurz

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262016056

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262016056.001.0001

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The Logical Problem in Animal Mindreading Research

The Logical Problem in Animal Mindreading Research

(p.20) (p.21) 2 The Logical Problem in Animal Mindreading Research
Mindreading Animals

Robert W. Lurz

The MIT Press

This chapter explores the logical problem in research on animal mindreading. It argues that there is currently no experimental approach that can determine whether animals are capable of attributing simple cognitive states (for example, seeing, hearing, and knowing) in order to predict and make sense of other agents’ behaviors. The chapter first discusses the issues arising from mindreading in animal social cognition research before turning to the debate between simple cognitive state attribution versus behavior reading in animals. It then looks at the experiment conducted by Brian Hare and colleagues (2000) to demonstrate that, at least in chimpanzees, animals can attribute simple perceptual states. It also considers what is known as the direct line of gaze, the question of simplicity in relation to mindreading. attributions of knowledge and ignorance in primates, and experiments with scrub jays. The chapter concludes with a discussion of animals’ ability to attribute goal-directed or intentional actions to an agent.

Keywords:   Brian Hare, animals, mindreading, primates, cognitive states, behavior reading, direct line of gaze, knowledge, scrub jays, intentional actions

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