Philosophical Primatology: Reflections on Theses of Anthropological Difference, the Logic of Anthropomorphism and Anthropodenial, and the Self-other Category Mistake Within the Scope of Cognitive Primate Research

Biological Theory 15 (2):61-82 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX


This article investigates the deep-rooted logical structures underlying our thinking about other animals with a particular focus on topics relevant for cognitive primate research. We begin with a philosophical propaedeutic that makes perspicuous how we are to differentiate ontological from epistemological considerations regarding primates, while also accounting for the many perplexities that will undoubtedly be encountered upon applying this difference to concrete phenomena. Following this, we give an account of what is to be understood by the assertion of a thesis of anthropological difference, identifying, inter alia, a property that fulfils the exclusivity, universality, and constitution criteria and demarcates the differentia specifica between humans and other animals. Also, we systematically develop how such theses can be formulated more moderately. Furthermore, we account for different theoretical frameworks, argumentative schemes, and sociological factors whose employment is associated with theses as such. This endeavor is carried out under the guise of anthropomorphism and anthropodenial. Doing so, we show that both are favored by the logic of cognitive primate research. Put briefly, concepts like cladistic parsimony and arguments by analogy favor anthropomorphism whereas concepts like traditional parsimony and Morgan’s canon favor anthropodenial. We close by framing these topics in the light of the self-other category mistake that lies in ascribing exclusive self-properties to some other. Lastly, we probe this category mistake for potency and scope of implications and find it to be central to and unavoidably ingrained in our thinking about other animals.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,168

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Solly Zuckerman: the making of a primatological career in Britain, 1925–1945.Jonathan Burt - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 37 (2):295-310.
Anthropomorphism and Anthropodenial.Frans B. M. de Waal - 1999 - Philosophical Topics 27 (1):255-280.
Intentionality and Embodied Cognition.Mark Rowlands - 2011 - Philosophical Topics 39 (1):81-97.
Anthropomorphism and Anthropodenial.Frans B. M. De Waal - 1999 - Philosophical Topics 27 (1):255-280.
Parallels and contrasts with primate cultural research.Robert C. O'Malley - 2001 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (2):349-349.
Cognitive dynamics of historical and anthropological studies at the XX and early XXI centuries.S. Sh Aitov - 2012 - Anthropological Measurements of Philosophical Research 2:44-51.
Anthropomorphism as Cognitive Bias.Mike Dacey - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (5):1152-1164.


Added to PP

46 (#346,906)

6 months
11 (#241,733)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
What is it like to be a bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.
Thinking about mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.

View all 72 references / Add more references