The questions of animal rationality: Theory and evidence
Hurley (Susan) & Nudds (Matthew)
Source: Hurley (Susan) & Nudds (Matthew) - Rational Animals?
Paper - Abstract

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  1. Background: Theoretical questions and distinctions
    … 1.1 Rationality and Intelligence
    … 1.2 Rationality, generalization, and decentring
    … 1.3 Rationality and normativity
    … 1.4 Rationality and consciousness
    … 1.5 Rationality and conceptual and linguistic abilities
    … 1.6 Rationality and reasoning; behavioural versus process rationality
    … 1.7 Ends versus means
    … 1.8 Instrumental rationality as behavioural rationality
    … 1.9 Instrumental rationality as process rationality
    … 1.10 Formal versus substantive rationality
    … 1.11 Individual versus social rationality
    … 1.12 Practical versus theoretical rationality
    … 1.13 The landscape of questions about animal rationality
    • Rationality differs from intelligence: In requiring a greater capacity for flexible generalization — extending to some capacity for decentring from me here and now, if not to full domain-generality — and in its normativity, which requires the possibility of making mistakes and perhaps some kind of reflective awareness, or metacognition, concerning the possibility of mistake.
    • Disciplines vary in their focus on rational behaviour as opposed to on rational processes that explain behaviour.
    • Rational behaviour is usually understood in terms of instrumental practical rationality, concerning the rational means to a given end, rather than the rationality of ends. However, it is arguable that the implicit dependence of purely formal conceptions of rationality on some substantive assumptions puts pressure on behavioural rationality to include some process elements.
    • Classical conceptions of behavioural rationality, such as EUT, have been challenged by results from the heuristics and biases line of research, and revised and liberalized by the ecological rationality school.
    • Process rationality can be understood either as practical, concerning the processes that explain actions, or as theoretical, concerning the processes than explain beliefs.
    • A classical view of process rationality in terms of reflective, domain-general reasoning might be revised and liberalized by allowing other processes to count as rational, such as domain-specific heuristics, processes implemented by associative mechanisms, and widely distributed processes.
    • Such liberal revisions of classical conceptions of human behavioural and process rationality may make more room for animal rationality.
    • In social environments, agents play against other agents (rather than nature), who can manipulate information; this creates selection pressure that may drive the development of advanced cognitive capacities, including behaviour reading and mind reading capacities, in social animals.
    • Practical rationality may be more accommodating than theoretical rationality of the forms of social cognition found in non-human animals, and of the domain-specificity of many of their problem-solving abilities.
  2. Types and levels of rationality
  3. Rational versus associative processes
  4. Metacognition
  5. Social behaviour and cognition
  6. Mind reading and behaviour reading
  7. Behaviour and cognition in symbolic environments
  8. Why does it matter?


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