Ritically assess the claims that animals, particularly chimpanzees, have a humanlike understanding of mental states

Essays should be of 2,000 words and should critically assess relevant
methodological and theoretical issues. All students should make use of primary
(journal paper) literature as well as text books and reviews.

Below is the lecture notes that we had on the topic.


Theory of Mind in Animals
It has been argued that, for humans, a crucial ability in making sense of everyday
social interaction is the ability to impute  mental states to ourselves and others in
order to predict and explain behaviours  a so-called  theory of mind . Moreover, it
has been argued that such an ability is an essential aspect of becoming  conscious 
becoming aware of our own and others minds. Yet many animals, for example dogs,
dolphins and especially primates, seem to engage in very complex social behaviour.
So, do they too have a  theory of mind ? Are they too  conscious ?

This lecture will look at the attempts to answer these questions experimentally and in
doing so tries to address the central issue of how it is possible to distinguish when
someone (or some animal) understands (reflects upon) mental states or  merely
understands (reflects upon) behaviours. For example when a chimpanzee engages to
apparently complex deception of another chimpanzee, are they manipulating the
other s behaviour or are they actually manipulating the other s thoughts?
Primates
Hare, B., Call, J., Agnetta, B., & Tomasello, M. (2000). Chimpanzees know what
conspecifics do and do not see. Animal Behaviour, 59, 771-785.
Hare, B., Call, J., & Tomasello, M. (2001). Do chimpanzees know what conspecifics
know? Animal Behavior, 61, 139-151.
Povinelli, D.J. & Eddy, T.J. (1996) What young chimpanzees know about seeing.
Mongraphs of the Socety for Research in Child Development.
Povinelli, D. J., & Giambrone, S. (2001). Reasoning about beliefs: A human
specialization? Child Development, 72, 691-695.
Povinelli, D.J. & Vonk, J. (2003). Chimpanzees minds: Suspiciosly human? Trends in
Cognitive Sciences, 7, 157-160.
Povinelli, D. J. & Vonk, J. (2004). We dont need a microscope to explore the
chimpanzee mind. Mind and Language, 19, 1-28.
Tomasello, M., Call, J., & Hare, B. (2003a). Chimpanzees understand psychological
states  the question is which ones and to what extent. Trends in Cognitive Sciences,
7, 153-156.
Tomasello, M., Call, J., and Hare, B. (2003b). Chimpanzees versus humans: Its not
that simple. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7, 239-240.
Dogs
Hare, B., Brown, M., Williamson, C., & Michael Tomasello (2002). The
domestication of social cognition in dogs. Science. 289, 1634-1636
Miklosi, A., Polgardi, R., Topal, J., & Csanyi, V. (1998). Use of experimenter-given
cues in dogs. Animal Cognition, 1, 113-121.
Soproni, K., Miklosi, A., Topal, J., & Csanyi, V. (2001). Comprehension of human
communicative signs in pet dogs (canis familiaris). Journal of Comparative
Psychology, 115, 122-126.
Background reading
Byrne, R. (1995) The thinking ape. Oxford University Press. Ch. 8 & 9.
Mitchell, P. (1997) Introduction to theory of mind: Children, autism and apes.
Arnold: London. Ch.3.
Suddendorf, T., & Whitten, A. (2001). Mental evolution and development: Evidence
for secondary representations in children, great apes, and other animals.
Psychological Bulletin, 127, 629  650.
Tomasello, M. (2000). Primate cognition: Introduction to the issue. Cognitive Science,
24, 351-361.
Tomasello, M., & Call, J. (1997). Primate cognition (chapter 10 especially). New
York: Oxford University Press.
Whiten, A. & Byrne, R.W. (1988). Tactical deception in primates. Behavioural and
Brain Sciences, 11, 233-73.