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Animal Concepts Revisited: The Use of Self-Monitoring as an Empirical Approach

Colin Allen
Erkenntnis (1975-)
Vol. 51, No. 1, Animal Mind (1999), pp. 33-40
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20012938
Page Count: 8
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Animal Concepts Revisited: The Use of Self-Monitoring as an Empirical Approach
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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.

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