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Something Fun

In Uncategorized on March 18, 2010 by Randy

A Pythonesque moment: Now for something completely different!

Have a look at this, those interested in philosophy of the mind, cognition, and science.

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One Response to “Something Fun”

  1. This is an interesting find, thanks Randy!

    Here’s my take of this finding:

    The observation of “encourage their playmates when they were losing interest” or “self-handicap” doesn’t necessary indicate the presence of theory of mind. Please note that this is not undermining the value of this finding as this field is still in its initial stages.

    Dogs induce playing behavior and “invite” further play by bowing, etc., does this sort of behavior count as “encouraging playmates?” Animals “self-handicap” to manipulate predator behavior, (the Hognose snake plays dead in front of predators: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nScxF8vGw0 the Killdeer bird plays injury in likewise situations: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUO9vVkc0FY ), but further experimentation showed that these behaviors are displayed in stereotypical ways that are not contingent on the predator’s actual intentions/behaviors.

    The theory of mind interpretation of such behavior would be that the gorillas think that “I think you think that X, therefore, I behave Y”. The behavioralist interpretation of such behavior would be that the gorillas either explicitly or implicitly know that “Acting Y induces more play/pleasure, etc. Therefore I act Y” The former regards behavioral signals as the result of mental intentions, the latter regards them as the representation of several implications.

    The question is how to distinguish the two. One would imagine that internal mental states do not have necessary behavioral implications, thus a being with theory of mind would exhibit a broader range of expectations than those that directly read off the signals as representing a set set of behaviors. That was the rationale behind ruling out the Hognose and Killdeer cases. This step is required for us to conclude that the gorilla playing is “mind-reading.”

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