The Evolution of means-End Cognition; Why Animals Cannot Think

Publication Year:
Usage 489
Downloads 489
Repository URL:
Papineau, David
preprint description
Why is there a cognitive gulf between other animals and humans? Current fashion favours our greater understanding of Theory of Mind as an answer, and Language is another obvious candidate. But I think that analysis of the evolution of means-end cognitive mechanisms suggests that there may be a further significant difference: where animals will only perform those means which they (or their ancestors) have previously used as a route to some end, humans can employ observation to learn that some novel means is a route to a desired end. In short, human can learn from observation, where animals can learn only from first-hand experience.