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Species of Mind: The Philosophy and Biology of Cognitive Ethology [Paperback]

Colin Allen , Marc Bekoff
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 26 1999 0262511088 978-0262511087 1

Colin Allen (a philosopher) and Marc Bekoff (a cognitive ethologist) approach their work from a perspective that considers arguments about evolutionary continuity to be as applicable to the study of animal minds and brains as they are to comparative studies of kidneys, stomachs, and hearts. Cognitive ethologists study the comparative, evolutionary, and ecological aspects of the mental phenomena of animals. Philosophy can provide cognitive ethology with an analytical basis for attributing cognition to nonhuman animals and for studying it, and cognitive ethology can help philosophy to explain mentality in naturalistic terms by providing data on the evolution of cognition. This interdiscipinary approach reveals flaws in common objections to the view that animals have minds.

The heart of the book is this reciprocal relationship between philosophical theories of mind and empirical studies of animal cognition. All theoretical discussion is carefully tied to case studies, particularly in the areas of antipredatory vigilance and social play, where there are many points of contact with philosophical discussions of intentionality and representation. Allen and Bekoff make specific suggestions about how to use philosophical theories of intentionality as starting points for empirical investigation of animal minds, and they stress the importance of studying animals other than nonhuman primates.



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Review

No one has ever contemplated what it is like to be a zucchini because zucchinis lack minds. But we certainly have wondered what it is like to be a predatory lion, or an echolocating bat or a brachiating monkey. That is because such animals presumably do have minds. But what kind of minds? Allen and Bekoff morph the disciplines of philosophy and ethology toprovide a lucid analysis of how animals think and what they think about. If you want a fun romp on the wild side of animal minds, read this book.

(Marc Hauser , Associate Professor, Departments of Anthropology and Psychology, Program in Neurosciences, Harvard University)

About the Author

Colin Allen is Professor of Philosophy at Texas A&M University. He is the coauthor of Nature's Purposes (MIT Press, 1998), Species of Mind (MIT Press, 1997), and The Cognitive Animal (MIT Press, 2001).

Marc Bekoff is Professor of Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
How widely are mental phenomena distributed in nature? Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Kinds of Intelligence April 17 2003
Format:Paperback
Starting from the concept of biological continuity Allen and Bekoff argue that "lower" animals may be intelligent too. One might distinguish a variety of intelligences including: i. purely reactive (reflex, radical behaviorist, table lookup) learning by evolutionary change only (learning being radically separated from performance system) ii. finite state machines (modifiable memory,
possibly with explicit world model/representation, possibly with
a time sense) iii. cooperative/social (communicative, specialists, language users) iv. conscious (self monitoring and
self modifying, possibly explicit representation of goals, possible utility/value model with possible value change), etc.
Allen and Bekoff note that "'lower' animals can outperform 'higher' animals on some cognitive tasks", what constitutes
superior intelligence depends upon the niche that the animal
occupies, it is not universal. I especially liked the chapter
on consciousness which the authors relate to the capacity to
detect misinformation and illusion.
Was this review helpful to you?
Format:Paperback
When I read Species of Mind for the first time it was my introduction to the topic of cognitive ethology and I had no background at all in this area. I wrote a review here indicating that I did not get anything out of it. I would like to retract that. What would have been more accurate would have been that I did not appreciate it because *I* was not prepared for it. I have since read extensively on the topic and have all of Marc Bekoff's books. I now appreciate the book and consider it indispensable. Allen and Bekoff are leading researchers in this field and this book is highly important if you want to get solid current information in cognitive ethology. I HIGHLY recommend this book and retract my previous inaccurate review.
...P>James O'Heare...
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book (and a retraction of previous review) Sept. 1 2002
By James J. O'Heare - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When I read Species of Mind for the first time it was my introduction to the topic of cognitive ethology and I had no background at all in this area. I wrote a review here indicating that I did not get anything out of it. I would like to retract that. What would have been more accurate would have been that I did not appreciate it because *I* was not prepared for it. I have since read extensively on the topic and have all of Marc Bekoff's books. I now appreciate the book and consider it indispensable. Allen and Bekoff are leading researchers in this field and this book is highly important if you want to get solid current information in cognitive ethology. I HIGHLY recommend this book and retract my previous inaccurate review.
...P>James O'Heare...
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kinds of Intelligence April 17 2003
By Robert Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Starting from the concept of biological continuity Allen and Bekoff argue that "lower" animals may be intelligent too. One might distinguish a variety of intelligences including: i. purely reactive (reflex, radical behaviorist, table lookup) learning by evolutionary change only (learning being radically separated from performance system) ii. finite state machines (modifiable memory,
possibly with explicit world model/representation, possibly with
a time sense) iii. cooperative/social (communicative, specialists, language users) iv. conscious (self monitoring and
self modifying, possibly explicit representation of goals, possible utility/value model with possible value change), etc.
Allen and Bekoff note that "'lower' animals can outperform 'higher' animals on some cognitive tasks", what constitutes
superior intelligence depends upon the niche that the animal
occupies, it is not universal. I especially liked the chapter
on consciousness which the authors relate to the capacity to
detect misinformation and illusion.
5.0 out of 5 stars Academic book that fascinates Dec 29 2013
By lonebeaut - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Marc Bekoff, the co-author of this book, is a biologist and avid animal rights activist who has written a number of popular books advocating for more enlightened treatment of nonhuman animals. But "Species of Mind" is a more academic work that employs his specialty of cognitive ethology, which is the study of various aspects of the mentality of animals. Bekoff's co-writer is Colin Allen, a philosophy professor, and the two of them delve into the commonalities between philosophical theories of mind and empirical studies of animal cognition, urging further study of using these tools of all animal species. It sounds heavier than it really it. In fact, this book is quite an enjoyable journey through the minds of animals.
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