3/2: On the Detection of Logical Reasoning in Nonhuman Animals

ECOM will host a talk by Dr. Jacob Beck (Philosophy, York): Friday, March 2, 4:00-5:30PM in the UCHI Conference Room (Babbidge 4/209). ​All are encouraged to come.

Title: “Chrysippus’ Dog Reconsidered: On the Detection of Logical Reasoning in Nonhuman Animals”

Abstract: The ability to reason logically is often taken to be a sign of language-like or conceptual thought. One way to investigate whether animals are conceptual thinkers, or have a language of thought, is thus to investigate their ability to reason logically. The Greek Stoic philosopher Chrysipuss reported anecdotal evidence that dogs reason by way of the disjunctive syllogism. More recently, animal researchers have provided supporting evidence from controlled studies. But philosophers such as José Luis Bermúdez and Michael Rescorla have appealed to forms of “proto-logical” reasoning to ground alternative explanations of this evidence. These forms of proto-logical reasoning are so powerful that they generate a challenge: How, if at all, can genuine logical reasoning be detected and distinguished from its proto-logical rivals? My talk will offer some suggestions.

The CT Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences provides generous support for the ECOM Speaker Series.