Journal of the History of Biology 50 (3):525-569 (2017)

Simon Fitzpatrick
John Carroll University
Conwy Lloyd Morgan (1852–1936) is widely regarded as the father of modern comparative psychology. Yet, Morgan initially had significant doubts about whether a genuine science of comparative psychology was even possible, only later becoming more optimistic about our ability to make reliable inferences about the mental capacities of non-human animals. There has been a fair amount of disagreement amongst scholars of Morgan’s work about the nature, timing, and causes of this shift in Morgan’s thinking. We argue that Morgan underwent two quite different shifts of attitude towards the proper practice of comparative psychology. The first was a qualified acceptance of the Romanesian approach to comparative psychology that he had initially criticized. The second was a shift away from Romanes’ reliance on systematizing anecdotal evidence of animal intelligence towards an experimental approach, focused on studying the development of behaviour. We emphasize the role of Morgan’s evolving epistemological views in bringing about the first shift – in particular, his philosophy of science. We emphasize the role of an intriguing but overlooked figure in the history of comparative psychology in explaining the second shift, T. Mann Jones, whose correspondence with Morgan provided an important catalyst for Morgan’s experimental turn, particularly the special focus on development. We also shed light on the intended function of Morgan’s Canon, the methodological principle for which Morgan is now mostly known. The Canon can only be properly understood by seeing it in the context of Morgan’s own unique experimental vision for comparative psychology.
Keywords Lloyd Morgan  Comparative psychology  Morgan's Canon  Animal behaviour
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Reprint years 2017
DOI 10.1007/s10739-016-9451-x
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Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior.Daniel C. Dennett - 1989 - Journal of the History of Biology 22 (2):361-367.

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Darwin, Hume, Morgan, and the Verae Causae of Psychology.Hayley Clatterbuck - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 60:1-14.
On the Origins of Physical Cognition in Corvids.Ivo Jacobs - 2017 - Dissertation, Lund University

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