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Can Nonhuman Primates Read Minds ?

Abstract : Granted that a given species is able to entertain beliefs and desires, i.e. to have (epistemic and motivational) internal states with semantically evaluable contents, one can raise the question of whether the species under investigation is, in addition, able to represent properties and events that are not only perceptual or physical, but mental, and use the latter to guide their actions, not only as reliable cues for achieving some output, but as mental cues (that is: whether it can "read minds"). The main aim of this article is to suggest that mindreading depends on two prior capacities : exercising simulation, as when one actively disengages from the present environment to imagine a counterfactual situation, and exploiting simulation, which implies that an imaginary situation is relocated within the real world. It is claimed that although apes have the first capacity, they don't have the second one, and therefore do not have access to mental attribution.
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Contributor : Joëlle Proust <>
Submitted on : Thursday, March 29, 2007 - 10:50:06 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, September 22, 2020 - 3:52:38 AM
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  • HAL Id : ijn_00139073, version 1

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Joëlle Proust. Can Nonhuman Primates Read Minds ?. Philosophical Topics, 1999, 27 (1), pp.203-232. ⟨ijn_00139073⟩

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