Getting It Together: Psychological Unity and Deflationary Accounts of Animal Metacognition

Acta Analytica 33 (4):431-451 (2018)
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Experimenters claim some nonhuman mammals have metacognition. If correct, the results indicate some animal minds are more complex than ordinarily presumed. However, some philosophers argue for a deflationary reading of metacognition experiments, suggesting that the results can be explained in first-order terms. We agree with the deflationary interpretation of the data but we argue that the metacognition research forces the need to recognize a heretofore underappreciated feature in the theory of animal minds, which we call Unity. The disparate mental states of an animal must be unified if deflationary accounts of metacognition are to hold and untoward implications avoided. Furthermore, once Unity is acknowledged, the deflationary interpretation of the experiments reveals an elevated moral standing for the nonhumans in question.

Author Profiles

Gary Comstock
North Carolina State University
William A. Bauer
North Carolina State University


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