Critter psychology: On the possibility of nonhuman animal folk psychology

In Daniel D. Hutto & Matthew Ratcliffe (eds.), Folk Psychology Re-Assessed. Kluwer/Springer Press. pp. 191--209 (2007)
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Abstract

When we ask the question whether animals have their own folk psychology, we’re asking whether any other species has a commonsense conception of psychological phenomenon. Different versions of this question have been discussed over the past 25 years, but no clear answer has emerged. Perhaps one reason for this lack of progress is that we don’t clearly understand the question. I defend a two-fold view of folk psychology that takes as central the capacity to engage in some folk psychological practices (e.g. predicting, explaining, coordinating, justifying, etc.) and the capacity to see another as minded. Given this account, I argue that chimpanzees, as intentional agents who engage in folk psychological practices and have some understanding of others as minded agents, are folk psychologists.

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Kristin Andrews
York University