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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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Solving the Logical Problem for Belief Attribution

Solving the Logical Problem for Belief Attribution

(p.130) (p.131) 4 Solving the Logical Problem for Belief Attribution
Mindreading Animals

Robert W. Lurz

The MIT Press

This chapter explores how the logical problem can be overcome for tests of belief attribution in animals. It discusses the main philosophical and empirical arguments against belief attribution in animals and argues that they are inconclusive and incapable of solving the logical problem. It proposes a radically new experimental approach for testing whether animals are capable of attributing beliefs as opposed to perceptual states. It also outlines three different kinds of experimental protocols that can provide the required evidence. The chapter first considers the arguments of Donald Davidson and José Luis Bermúdez against belief attribution in animals before turning to a number of empirical studies. It then describes two revisability experiments that require testing animals on their ability to distinguish appearances from reality using deceptive amodal completion stimuli. Finally, it examines the ability of primates to represent abstract relations.

Keywords:   Donald Davidson, José Luis Bermúdez, beliefs, animals, logical problem, perceptual states, revisability, experiments, primates, abstract relations

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