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Volume 50 • Number 3

July 2013



 

Animal Minds: A Non-Representationalist Approach


by Hans-Johann Glock


Do animals have minds? We have known at least since Aristotle that humans constitute one species of animal. And some benighted contemporaries apart, we also know that most humans have minds. To have any bite, therefore, the question must be restricted to non-human animals, to which I shall henceforth refer simply as "animals." I shall further assume that animals are bereft of linguistic faculties. So, do some animals have minds comparable to those of humans? As regards that question, there are two basic stances. Differentialists maintain that there are categorical differences separating us from animals; assimilationists hold that the differences are merely quantitative and gradual (see Brandom 2000, pp. 23). This paper only deals with one kind of mental phenomenon, namely intentional states such as believing, desiring, and intending. I shall also refer to these as having thoughts or thinking rather than as "propositional attitudes," since that terminology is misguided. My primary target is a variant of differentialism, namely lingualism. It maintains that animals lack intentional states such as beliefs, desires, and intentions, since, on a priori conceptual grounds, the latter require language. The term "language" is here confined to public languages, notably natural languages, and excludes inner symbolisms such as the language of thought postulated by many cognitive scientists.


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ISSN: 2152-1123