The Situational Structure of Primate Beliefs

Abstract

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.

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