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Primate self-awareness

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Deborah Marber

on 26 November 2012

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Transcript of Primate self-awareness

Does the mirror test demonstrate that
chimpanzees are self-aware? Self-recognition learnt in the first 10 day test
‘the first experimental demonstration of a self-concept in a subhuman form.’
Gallup (1970) known as the standard procedure
Yet further mirror tests have yielded ambiguous results Gallup’s Conclusions Results 2 An orang-utan touching the mark Results Continued Results Chimpanzees: Self Recognition(1970) Awareness then concepts?
Awareness necessary for consciousness
Awareness is an essential component of the definition of poised (Tye,1997)
Personal identity
Essential component for ethics and moral responsibility Why we should care. Definitions of
Self-Awareness Vicki The Chimp A being may be said to possess “self-awareness” if it can be said to be aware of oneself as an individual separate from its environment and others of its species. 4 types of
self-awareness: 1) pre-reflective
2) bodily
3) social
4) introspective What is the mirror test? Methodological Issues Key questions -Are the results of the mirror test in anyway compromised by methodological failings?

-The mirror test has been conducted on a variety of primates, but does it accommodate the behavioural idiosyncrasies of every species that takes it?

-Many chimpanzees have been shown to pass the mirror test, but is this the result of having inadequate control conditions and other methodological shortcomings? -In Gallup’s original study he failed to provide an overview of normal chimpanzee behaviours. This makes it is impossible to tell whether any of the behaviours displayed by the chimpanzees are mirror-directed behaviours.

-Many chimpanzees have been shown to pass the mirror test, but perhaps the mark directed touches are simply the result of increased energy after sedation.
Are these fair criticisms of the mirror test? Also known as a “false alarm”. A false positive is result that erroneously indicates that a certain condition has been fulfilled or obtains.

For instance- in an experiment designed to test the efficacy of homeopathic remedies, a result that suggests that they are more effective than a similarly administered placebo when this is not the case, would be a false positive.

A false negative error is the converse of false positive error. It is a result that erroneously indicates that a condition has not been fulfilled or fails to obtain.
For instance-in an experiment designed to test whether sleep deprivation negatively affects reaction times, a false negative would be a result that suggest they do not negatively affect reaction times when, in fact, they do. False positive error: False negative error: -Monkeys perceive eye contact as a form of aggression.
-They may need longer to habituate to the mirror.
-They might not be motivated to attend to the dyed mark.
Do these factors prevent monkeys from passing the mirror test? Self-awareness in chimpanzees (both wild and captive) is not conclusively proved (or disproved) by empirical date.
Tests are consistently inconclusive – we need to devise new ways of testing for self awareness. ‘Common Sense’ Approach Some amoeboid organisms (‘slime’) is capable of path-finding (finding the shortest route to food) through a maze.
We deny the organism self-awareness because we can explain this ability chemically.
It is conceivable that chimpanzees have capabilities we are not aware of. Tube Morphogenesis Chimps use a stationary mirror to navigate a maze.
Conditioning cannot explain how chimpanzees are able to use a reflection of themselves to navigate the maze.
This does not make self-recognition the only possibility, however. The Maze Test R. Epstein conditioned pigeons to take (and reliably pass) the mirror test.
He concludes that a non-mentalistic account of his (and Gallup’s) data is more accurate than any other
A non-mentalistic account, if we accept it, does not prove that chimpanzees do not have self-awareness. Non-Mentalistic Explanation What kind of self-awareness could the mirror test show, assuming we could overcome its methodological flaws? A) cannot show pre-reflective self-awareness

B) could show bodily self-awareness if we accept its methodology

C) does nothing to demonstrate social self-awareness

D) does not demonstrate introspective self-awareness Conclusion Bibliography Anderson, J. R. & Roeder, J.J., 1989. Responses of capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) to different conditions of mirror stimulation. Primates 30, pp.581-587.

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(continued) Povinelli, D., Rulf, A.B., Landau, K.R., Bierschwale, D.T., 1993. Self-Recognition in Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): Distribution, Ontogeny, and Patterns of Emergence. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 107(4), pp. 347-372.

Povinelli, D. & Vonk, J., 2003. Chimpanzee minds: suspiciously human? TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences, 7(4), pp.157-160.

Roberts, W.A., 1997. Principles of Animal Cognition. In: M.Tomasello, ed. 1997. Primate cognition. New York: Oxford University Press, Ch.12.

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Shumaker, R.W. & Swartz, K.B. When Tradition Methodologies Fail: Cognitive Studies of Great Apes. In: M.Bekoff, C. Allen & Gordon M. Burghardt, eds. 2002. The cognitive animal. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp.335-343.

Swartz, K.B., 1997. What is mirror self-recognition in nonhuman primates, and what is it not? In: J.G.Snodgrass & R.L.Thompson, eds. 1997. The self across psychology: Self-recognition, self-awareness, and the self concept. New York: New York Academy of Sciences, pp. 65-71.

Tye, M., 1997. The Problem of Simple Minds: Is There Anything It Is like to Be a Honey Bee? Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition [e-journal] 88 (3), pp.289-317. Available through: JSTOR < http://www.jstor.org/stable/4320801> [Accessed 25th November 2012]. The mirror test shows bodily self-awareness
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