From False Beliefs to True Interactions

Are chimpanzees socially enactive? 1

Authored by: Sarah Vincent , Shaun Gallagher

The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Animal Minds

Print publication date:  July  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138822887
eBook ISBN: 9781315742250
Adobe ISBN:


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In their 1978 paper, psychologists David Premack and Guy Woodruff posed the question, “Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind?” They treated this question as interchangeable with the inquiry, “Does a chimpanzee make inferences about another individual, in any degree or kind?” (526). Here, we offer an alternative way of thinking about this issue, positing that while chimpanzees may not possess a theory of mind in the strict sense (to be explained shortly), we ought to think of them as enactive perceivers of practical and social affordances. As such, we reframe the question: “Are chimpanzees socially enactive?”

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