Species of Mind: The Philosophy and Biology of Cognitive Ethology

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A Bradford Book, 1997 - Science - 209 pages
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"No one has ever contemplated what it is like to be a zucchini because zucchini's lack minds. But we certainly have wondered what it is like to be a predatory lion, or an echolocating bat or a brachiating monkey. That is because such animals presumably do have minds. But what kind of minds? Allen and Bekoff morph the disciplines of philosophy and ethology to provide a lucid analysis of how animals think and what they think about. If you want a fun romp on the wild side of animal minds, read this book."
-- Marc Hauser, Associate Professor, Departments of Anthropology and Psychology, Program in Neurosciences, Harvard University Colin Allen (a philosopher) and Marc Bekoff (a cognitive ethologist) approach their work from a perspective that considers arguments about evolutionary continuity to be as applicable to the study of animal minds and brains as they are to comparative studies of kidneys, stomachs, and hearts. Cognitive ethologists study the comparative, evolutionary, and ecological aspects of the mental phenomena of animals. Philosophy can provide cognitive ethology with an analytical basis for attributing cognition to nonhuman animals and for studying it, and cognitive ethology can help philosophy to explain mentality in naturalistic terms by providing data on the evolution of cognition. This interdiscipinary approach reveals flaws in common objections to the view that animals have minds.

The heart of the book is this reciprocal relationship between philosophical theories of mind and empirical studies of animal cognition. All theoretical discussion is carefully tied to case studies, particularly in the areas of antipredatory vigilance andsocial play, where there are many points of contact with philosophical discussions of intentionality and representation. Allen and Bekoff make specific suggestions about how to use philosophical theories of intentionality as starting points for empirical investigation of animal minds, and they stress the importance of studying animals other than nonhuman primates.

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About the author (1997)

Colin Allen is Professor of Philosophy at Texas A&M University. He is the coauthor of "Nature's Purposes" (MIT Press, 1998), "Species of Mind" (MIT Press, 1997), and "The Cognitive Animal" (MIT Press, 2001).

Marc Bekoff is Professor of Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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