The Situational Structure of Primate Beliefs


This paper develops the situational model of primate beliefs from the Prior-Lurz line of thought. There is a strong skepticism concerning primate beliefs in the analytic tradition which holds that beliefs have to be propositional and non-human animals do not have them (e.g., Davidson 1975, 1982). The response offered in this paper is twofold. First, two arguments against the propositional model as applied to other animals are put forward: an a priori argument from referential opacity and an empirical argument from varieties of working memory. Second, the Prior-Lurz situational model based on state of affairs as opposed to propositions is introduced and defended with two significant modifications. With this model of primate beliefs we can make progress in understanding how other primates can have certain mindreading capacity.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Bermúdez, J. (2003). Thinking without words. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Call, J. and Tomasello, M. (2008). Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind? 30 years later,” Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 12(5), 187-192.

  • Davidson, D. (1967). Truth and meaning. Reprinted in his Inquiries in truth and interpretation (2001). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Davidson, D. (1969). True to the facts. Reprinted in his Inquiries in truth and interpretation (2001). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Davidson, D. (1975). Thought and talk. Reprinted in his Inquiries in truth and interpretation (2001). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Davidson, D. (1982). Rational animals. Reprinted in his Subjective, intersubjective, objective (2001). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Dennett, D. (1988). The intentional stance. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Fodor, J. (1975). The language of thought. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • Frege, G. (1892). On sense and reference. Reprinted in M. Beaney (ed.), The Frege reader (1997). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

  • Giaquinto, M. (2011). Visual thinking in mathematics: an epistemological study. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Hare, B. et al. (2000). Chimpanzees know what conspecifics do and do not see. Animal Behavior, 59, 771-785.

  • Hashiya, K. and Kojima, S. (2001). Acquisition of auditory-visual intermodal matching-to-sample by a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes): comparison with visual-visual intramodal matching. Animal Cognition, 4, 231-239.

  • Heyes, C. (1998). Theory of mind in nonhuman primates. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 21, 101-148.

  • Inoue, S. and Matsuzawa, T. (2007). Working memory of numerals in chimpanzees. Current Biology, 17(23), 1004-1005.

  • Jamieson, D. (2009). What do animals think? In R. Lurz (ed.), The philosophy of animal minds. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

  • Lurz, R. (2011). Mindreading animals. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • McDowell, J. (1996). Mind and world. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • McDowell, J. (2007). What myth? Reprinted in his The engaged intellect (2009). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • Matsuzawa, T. (2009). Symbolic representation of number in chimpanzees. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 19, 92-98.

  • Myowa-Yamakoshi, M. and Matsuzawa T. (1999). Factors influencing imitation of manipulatory actions in chimpanzees. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 113, 128-136.

  • Myowa-Yamakoshi, M. et al. (2004). Imitation in neonatal chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Developmental Science, 7, 437-442.

  • Povinelli, D. (1996). Chimpanzee theory of mind? The long road to strong inference. In P. Carruthers and P. Smith (eds.). Theories of theories of mind. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

  • Premack, D. and Woodruff, G. (1978). Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1, 515-526.

  • Prior, A. (1971). Objects of thought. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Quine, W. V. (1960). Word and object. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Schiffer, S. (2003). The things we mean. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Sperling, G. (1960). The information available in brief visual presentations. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 74(11), 1-29.

  • Tye, M. (2000). Consciousness, color, and content. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Wood, J. et al. (2008). Free-ranging rhesus monkeys spontaneously individuate and enumerate small numbers of non-solid portions. Cognition, 106, 207-221.


Journal + Issues