Saturday, July 30, 2016

Animal cognition research is not looking our way

 I have been poking around in the scientific literature on animal cognition and found several good reference collections. Here is the first:

This lengthy article on "Animal Cognition" recently came out in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. It has an extensive bibliography, including a lot of recent items, indicating that animal cognition is a lively topic. In fact this is a revision of an earlier article, revised to incorporate a lot of new work.

In addition to referencing journal articles, there are even a number of books, although some of these are also collections of what amount to articles. Interestingly, many of the books are published by university presses, suggesting that they are not meant for a general audience.

Then there is Cogprints, which is what is called an eprint archive, where authors post what are typically pre-publication copies of scientific journal articles, or conference presentations. Cogprints is all about cognition, which involves a wide variety of disciplines, from biology to philosophy (my field) and artificial intelligence (which I am drawing on). Fortunately these contents are organized by categories and subcategories, including one for animal cognition.

They presently have 125 papers on animal cognition here:

The important thing is that I see nothing in these extensive collections to even suggest that anyone is pursuing the approach that we are developing here. No one seems to be talking about an instinct being a body of knowledge that is then used in complex decision making. We appear to be pioneering a new line of research, a new way to think about animal behavior.

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