Re-conceiving nonhuman animal knowledge through contemporary primate cognitive studies.
Abstract In this paper I examine two claims that support the thesis that chimpanzees are substantive epistemic subjects. First, I defend the claim that chimpanzees are evidence gatherers (broadly construed to include the capacity to gather and use evidence). In the course of showing that this claim is probably true I will also show that, in being evidence gatherers, chimpanzees engage in a recognizable epistemic activity. Second, I defend the claim that chimpanzees achieve a degree of epistemic success while engaging in epistemic activity. Typically humans qualify as substantive epistemic subjects. Again, typically, knowledge plays an integral role in intentional human behaviour. As a consequence of defending the claims that chimpanzees are evidence gatherers and achieve a degree of epistemic success while engaging in such epistemic activities, I will also have shown how knowledge plays an integral role in intentional chimpanzee behaviour. The importance of these arguments does not wholly reside in the significance of knowledge explaining some chimpanzee behaviour. Treatments of animal knowledge in the literature tend to go in one of two directions: either the treatment embraces reliabilism and so construes animal knowledge as reliably produced true beliefs (or, if not beliefs, the relevant analogue for non-linguistic animals), or it embraces an anthropocentric stance that treats animals as knowers only when they find themselves behaving in circumstances that, were it true of humans, would imply the presence of causally efficacious knowledge. What I offer here is another way of understanding non-linguistic animals, in this case chimpanzees, as knowers.
Conference or Workshop Item
||chimpanzee knowledge, animal knowledge, chimpanzee epistemic activities, naturalized epistemology
||General Issues > Explanation
||10 Jun 2008
||07 Oct 2010 15:16
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